Ted Kotcheff

Active - 1962 - 2019  |   Born - Apr 7, 1931   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Action

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Canadian director Ted Kotcheff cut his teeth on live television in his native country, then moved on to British TV in 1957. While a resident of England, Kotcheff directed his first film, Tiara Tahiti (1962), using his full name William T. Kotcheff. Despite an engaging premise about rival hotel owners in Tahiti and a cast including James Mason and John Mills, Tiara Tahiti wasn't a major success. Kotcheff made up for this setback with his next British film, Life at the Top (1963), the cynical sequel to 1959's Room at the Top. For Outback (1971), Kotcheff took cast and crew to Australia for the fascinating tale of a schoolteacher's experience with a primitive Australian tribe. Back in Canada in 1974, Kotcheff all but single-handedly turned that country's film industry around with The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, the freewheeling tale of a Jewish lad (played by a pre-star Richard Dreyfuss) aggressively climbing up the social ladder in mid-'40s Montreal. Though based on a Mordecai Richler novel, it was the most autobiographical of Kotcheff's works, and his best to date; Duddy Kravitz also represented the first true box-office hit to emanate from Canada since the silent era. Between this film and Kotcheff's next adaptation of Richler, 1985's Joshua Then and Now, the director bided his time in less personal, purely commercial-minded efforts like Fun with Dick and Jane (1977) Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978), and the mother of all Rambo epics, First Blood (1982). Since Joshua Then and Now, Ted Kotcheff's career has boomed, but his "signature" as a director has been barely recognizable in such factory efforts as Switching Channels (1988) (the most recent remake of The Front Page) and the two puerile Weekend at Bernie's comedies.

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