Larry Peerce

Active - 1964 - 2001  |   Born - Apr 19, 1930 in The Bronx, New York City, New York  |   Genres - Drama, Western

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Biography by Bruce Eder

The Bronx-born son of tenor Jan Peerce, Larry Peerce has had a directorial career of decidedly mixed successes. His debut, as maker of the sensitive race-relations drama One Potato, Two Potato (1964) seemed to portend great things, and his second film, the rock 'n roll showcase The Big TNT Show, featuring the Byrds, Bo Diddley, the Ronettes, Petula Clark, and Phil Spector, was not only a rare success in this genre but also a cult favorite through the years. The Incident (1967), based on a true story, about a pair of thugs who terrorize a subway car on a night-time ride, also attracted much attention, and provided important early screen roles to Martin Sheen, Beau Bridges, and Tony Musante. And Goodbye Columbus (1969), based on Philip Roth's novel, was very well received by the press and public alike -- it also allowed Peerce to give a small role to his father. But then, with The Sporting Club (1971), Peerce's career began veering into critical and commercial failure -- A Separate Peace (1972) was dismissed by critics and the public alike, as was Ash Wednesday (1973), starring Elizabeth Taylor. Peerce found greater success on television with the groundbreaking drama The Stranger Who Looks Like Me (1974), detailing the plight of adoptees in finding their birth parents, and found renewed success at the box office with the fact-based dramas The Other Side of the Mountain and The Other Side of the Mountain -- Part 2, and entered the then-popular disaster movie sweepstakes with Two Minute Warning (1976). His adaptation of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar (1979), however, was badly received all around. The TV movie Elvis and Me (1988) put Peerce reasonably back on track, but Wired (1989), based on Bob Woodward's book about the life and death of comic actor John Belushi, was a failure, both critically and commercially.

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