Richard Fleischer: “Orson Welles changed everything for everybody”

When I first read film director Richard Fleischer’s autobiography, ‘Just Tell Me When to Cry: A Memoir’ (published in 1993), I simply had to agree with producer David Brown’s instant appraisal of the book, including the alternative title he came up with: he thought it should be called ‘Just Tell Me When to Stop Laughing’. Mr. Fleischer’s recount of his long and thriving career as a top-notch Hollywood director was indeed a thrilling, absorbing and, above all, a hilarious example of storytelling.

Although not specifically known as a director of comedies, he has a long string of fascinating, charming and intriguing films to his credit, such as “The Happy Time” (1952, which was a comedy, and even more so a sparkling one), “The Narrow Margin” (1952, film noir), “20.000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954, grand-scale fantasy-adventure), “Violent Saturday” (1955, melodrama about a bank robbery), “Between Heaven and Hell” (1956, psychological war tale), “The Vikings” (1957, epic adventure), “These Thousand Hills” (1958, adult Western), “Compulsion” (1958, courtroom drama), “The Boston Strangler” (1968, drama in semi-documentary style), “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970, recreating the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor), “The New Centurions” (1972, focusing on the LA police force) and “Soylent Green” (1973, science fiction). Even though by far and large an incomplete summary, it’s a quite remarkable list of impressive achievements.

Out of the Inkwell
Richard Feischer’s biography about the career of his father Max Fleischer: ‘Out of the Inkwell: Max Fleischer and the Animation Revolution’ (1985)

After all those years and while these films are still very vivid in the back of any filmbuff’s mind – Mr. Fleischer enjoyed his retirement to the fullest in his Los Angeles home when I met him there in March 2003, and occasionally he still attended screenings of his films. The son of animation pioneer Max Fleischer (1883-1972) who in the 1930s created Betty Boop and introduced Popeye to the screen – he also wrote a biography of his father, ‘Out of the Inckwell: Max Fleischer and the Animation Revolution’ (2005, with a foreword by Leonard Maltin).

You had the privilege of growing up in the film business, especially in the comedy branche?

That’s right, my whole background was comedy. From my childhood on I was meeting comedy writers of the time, such as Robert Benchley. The people I’ve known best have always asked me to do a comedy, but you don’t get that many offers to do a comedy or at least a comedy that you like. Also, I guess they thought I was more of a psychologist, making serious films with messages which I wanted to do too – serious, psychological dramas. I think “Compulsion” is the best one I made in that genre, you can’t do any better than that. There are other films as well that I like, such as “20.000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “10, Rillington Place”, made in England.

At what age did you know you wanted to be a director?

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, we were doing a school play called ‘Christopher Columbus’, and I played the lead. The teacher was directing us, giving instructions, like you say this, and you say that. Then she came to a scene where everybody was to leave the room and she was obviously struggling with a stage problem. When leaving the room, nobody was allowed to turn their back on the king, and she couldn’t figure it out. So I raised my hand and said, ‘Why don’t they walk out backwards?’ And she said, ‘You always have something to say, don’t you Dick?!’ (laughs). She hurt my feelings, but from that day I knew I wanted to direct. Later on I became the head of the Dramatic Society, then went to Brown University and at that time my goal was to become a psychiatrist, but I was able to get a job at RKO as an editor of newsreels.

So you moved to Los Angeles?

Yes, and there I started working as a director. RKO was the smallest of the big studios and the biggest of the small studios, it was the one right in the middle. They had very wonderful stars and it was run efficiently. The long-term contracts gave a sense of security among its employees. After all, they paid you every week, working or not. Downsides were loss of creative control, you could be loaned out against your will and at the end of every six-month period, they had the option of dropping your contract. Today, the studio system no longer exists and in some ways – the way it is now – it had advantages the old system didn’t have. The directors now do have more freedom. But overall, I was able to make my movies my way, without any restraint or restrictions.

After your days at RKO, you went to 20th Century Fox in the mid-1950s. Was that, career wise, the right decision?

Richard Fleischer poster Violent SaturdayBuddy Adler, Darryl F. Zanuck’s most favorable producer at the studio, produced my first film made at Fox and for the next 15 years, I would work mostly at Fox, which was a very interesting time for me. That film was called “Violent Saturday” [1955] and it was the first CinemaScope film made for under a million dollars. Zanuck, who ran the studio with a grip of iron and a fist of steel, was very pleased with the result, which made Buddy and me sort of heroes. You see, making movies is extremely difficult, but the people that have hired me and that I have worked with, always had complete trust in my ability to deliver the picture on time, in good taste and on or under the budget. So that’s way it has been easy for me and I never had anybody looking over my shoulder. I never had any problems with the studio heads or with producers, except with Zanuck when I was making “The Big Gamble” [1960] in Europe; whenever Juliet Greco, our leading lady and his lady friend, was on the set, he was there right next to me. If I turned around, I would bump into his cigar (laughs).

Were you also a bankable director at that time?

It took me longer than it should. I should have been discovered earlier (laughs), but I don’t think I was handled properly by agents and public relations people. Getting recognized as an A director took some time, that is until I made “The Narrow Margin” [1952]: that one was considered to be a superior film. I have seen it many times at festivals and it still holds up, audiences love it. I don’t know if I belong in the category of people like John Huston, Fred Zinnemann, Stanley Kramer and Billy Wilder; somebody else has to make that evaluation. So, I don’t know if I was recognized in my days, but now I hear people say about me all the time, ‘This guy made some pretty good movies!’ I never took anything for granted, I always paid attention to anything. I prepared very carefully, I researched everything myself. I think the main secret of my technique is to make the actors feel they are the most important element on the stage – and indeed they are. You can have beautiful photography, wonderful writing, but if you don’t get the performance from the actor, you don’t have a picture. So my concentration is working with the actor and making sure there’s always what George C. Scott used to call ‘a working atmosphere for actors’. That way they feel they’re not just part of the crew.

I suppose that this working atmosphere was a top priority when an ailing Edward G. Robinson, 79 at the time, played Charlton Hestons mentor in “Soylent Green” [1973]?

Absolutely. Eddie was allowed to leave the set at five o’clock in the evening and consequently I dismissed him at that hour, whether he was working or not. And what happened? At five o’clock, I always told him, ‘Eddie, it’s time to go.’ If he was working, he often said, ‘No, first I want to finish this scene.’ And when he had finished his scenes, he just stayed, hung around, told stories, and then when I said, ‘Good evening, Eddie, it is time to go,’ he’d just say, ‘But I’m not working… I like it here.’ I will never forget the first day he came on the set – I had never met him before, I hadn’t even seen him in person. I was on the set making a few tests when the producer introduced him to me. The entire crew stared at him like a bunch of fans or tourists [Mr. Robinson passed away in January 1973 as a result of cancer].

Richard Fleischer 2
On the set of “Ashanti” (1979), with [seated] Michael Caine, Rex Harrison, and [standing] producer Georges-Alain Vuille, Richard Fleischer and William Holden
How do you work once you’re on the set? Do you have a specific approach?

When you’re a director, you’re not only dealing with the actors, but everything needs your full attention at the same time, and that’s what I do for a living: I give a 110 percent of my time and energy and have thought about the things that I am working on, and hopefully there’s a way to cope with every element you have to deal with. After coming home from the studio in the evening, I plan the next day’s work and lay out a plan of action for the ‘blocking’ of the scenes: I try to block them in my mind before I get to the stage, the position of the actors and where will the camera be. However, when I get to the set, I try not to let the actors know that I have already planned it, I let them feel their way around and by making slight suggestions, it comes out the way I want it to come out. But the actors feel they have contributed to the direction of the scene, which is what I want. So I am helping them find their way, that’s one of the things. Suppose you’re working on a scene that has already been blocked, or partly shot or well rehearsed, then I have to figure out the order of shooting: what do I shoot first, second, third… and make a list of every setup I have to make in the order of shooting, not necessarily in the order of continuity. You try to find the most economical way to shoot a picture, for instance if you got a scene where people are making a lot of entrances and exits through a door, but they’re separated in different parts of the film, you work it out so you shoot all of those doorway scenes one after the other and you save a lot of time. You don’t have to take down the lighting and everything else. However, if it interrupts the flow, if the actors kind of get lost in the scene they’re doing, then I stop that and I’d have to do it the other way. But mostly it’s a matter of deciding what you want to shoot the next day and in what order.

Those decisions, you made most of them right here in your office?

Here, where we are sitting now, I have visualized a lot of scenes of my films, what they would look like. I always did that on my own, without the assistant director or anyone. I never had anyone to help me direct. An assistant director is really your assistant who gets things for you, who gets things organized for you, but he does no directing. I don’t know why he’s called a director; I think it’s maybe from the old days when directors were directing crowd scenes and if they’d have their assistant directors tell them what they’d want, the assistant director would be able to handle that if he’s an experienced guy.

How do you cast your films?

The director and the producer have to agree on the casting of every character. The casting agent brings in all the actors we think are right for the part. I get to see all of them and then narrow it down, go over it again and bring people back until I get the people I think are the best for those roles. Sometimes it is very difficult to cast a certain role. Right up to two or three days before I actually started shooting “10, Rillington Place”, I still didn’t have an actor I liked for the crucial part of Timothy Evans, it only happened at the very end. So I said to the producer, ‘We have to see everybody that we’ve rejected. Let’s get everybody back that we said no to, cause somebody has got to play the role.’ The first one I wanted to see was John Hurt. The producer said, ‘You’re just wasting your time.’ I said, ‘No, let’s take another look at him.’ The next day, the producer and I were in our office, they said that John Hurt was here, the door opened, and there he walked in. I said, ‘That’s the guy!’ When the producer saw him walk in, he said, ‘My God, you’re so right, he doesn’t have to say anything, this is the man for the part.’ And he was magnificent for that part, he did a great, great acting job, although we almost didn’t get him, because of a preconceived idea. But the producer was honest enough to apologize, he said, ‘I have learned a great lesson, that will never happen again.’ That says a lot of the producer you are dealing with.

Orson Welles 1
Orson Welles in one his most famous roles, playing Harry Lime in Carol Reed’s “The Third Man” (1949), set in post-WW 2 Vienna, and co-produced by David O. Selznick. Says Richard Fleischer: “Orson Welles changed everything for everybody and it certainly affected me.”

Which director do you admire the most?

There were many great directors, such as William Wyler who was a superb director, but it really was Orson Welles who changed everything for everybody and it certainly affected me. I tried to emulate what Orson did [with “Citizen Kane”]. Everybody tried to make their films look like as if they were made by Orson Welles, who was known as the acknowledged and revered king of moviemakers. He had a wonderful technique and when I was able to make two pictures with him – two in a row, “Compulsion” [1958] and “Crack in the Mirror” [1960] – I was very thrilled. We got along very well. When I told him I thought “Citizen Kane” was the best film ever made, he actually blushed, he seemed slightly embarrassed and he thanked me for saying that. But I didn’t say it to flatter him, I meant it. As it turned out, Orson was his own worst enemy. He really knocked himself out of the business and he regretted that very much. He ignored the studios, didn’t care about the timing and the budget – sometimes he spent a lot of money – so in the end the studios became very wary and decided he wouldn’t be working for them anymore: they simply couldn’t afford him.

What do you think of his performances in “Compulsion” and “Crack in the Mirror”?

When he appeared in [the courtroom drama] “Compulsion”, Orson really gave a bravura performance. There were certain scenes we shot when he was able to capture us, manipulate us and entertain us at the same time. Although he didn’t envy me for being able to direct one picture after another, he did say that he still got offers to direct, but they were the worst and most impossible scripts. When we were shooting “Crack in the Mirror” though, he referred to “Compulsion” and, knowing how proud I was of that film, he said I took a lot of credit for very little. ‘All you got is one outstanding performance [his] that made look you and the picture good,’ he said. But I told him I was really happy with that film, that I had never been prouder of any of my films and that I wouldn’t let him spoil it for me. ‘You’re right,’ he then said, ‘I am sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.’ Orson had become a king in exile who still considered himself king. Orson had only one big problem: his tragedy was that “Citizen Kane”, his first picture, was the best one ever made. Where do you go from there? The rest of his career was doomed to a downhill slide, and I was aware of that when I worked with him. Directing was what he treasured most, so he must have felt at least some jealousy of me as a director. He knew that, on the set, the director is the captain of the ship; when the ship is at sea, when it is underway, he is the king and he is in absolute control – he is the figure of authority. The passengers are the actors, the crew is the crew, and the producer can’t come on the bridge of the ship, he has to be somewhere else. Once you’re at sea, the director is guiding the actors and gets them through the part. Also, as a director, you always have to act fast and decide what to do. There’s always something: an actor gets sick and you can’t shoot that day, maybe you have to replace him, … You always have to fix things, right away. So you gotta know your job. If there’s a mistake, you try to salvage it and make them work for you instead of against you.

Another leading figure and most influential film director of the American film history, was D.W. Griffith. You met him, didn’t you?

Yes, the evening my second feature “Banjo” [1947] previewed in Westwood, I accidentally ran into him. Before the preview, my wife and I went to the Brown Derby restaurant in Beverly Hills for dinner, but as it was overcrowded, we waited in the bar for our table. Next to us sat an elderly, distinguished and white-haired gentleman who had noticed that I was excited about his upcoming preview later that evening. ‘You seem to be happy about something,’ the man said. And I replied, ‘I’m a movie director and I am having the preview of my second movie tonight.’ ‘Really? That’s wonderful. I know how you feel, because I used to be in that business myself.’ ‘Would you mind telling me, sir, what your name is?’ ‘D.W. Griffith.’ My wife and I found him to be jolly, very kind, with a great deal of warmth. We liked him a lot.

And what happened to “Banjo”?

Despite my enthusiasm and excitement, the film didn’t do too well at the box-office, so RKO boss of the B unit Sid Rogell didn’t object to loan me out to independent filmmaker and producer Stanley Kramer for [the avant-garde, offbeat and hilarious comedy] “So This Is New York” [1948] with then radio comic Henry Morgan in his screen debut. It more or less paved the way for me to move up the ladder and break out of the B picture ranks as soon as I was able to make [the attention-grabbing picture that caught the attention of Howard Hughes, head of RKO] “The Narrow Margin”, shot in 1950 in a mere thirteen days, which really was my breakthrough film. When released [in 1952, it had been shelved for over a year], Time magazine wrote an article about the team behind the producer, Stanley Rubin, and I, describing us as ‘Hollywood’s bright new hopes for the future.’

You made a lot of films that don’t need to be polished in order to shine, such as “20.000 Leagues Under the Sea” [1954], one of Disney’s best live action films and one of the most impressive grand-scale classic fantasy-adventure films, or “The Vikings” [1958], which you made on location in Norway, or “The Boston Strangler” (1968), an excellent adaptation of Gerold Frank’s book. Are you aware of that?

Any of my films that I’ve seen with audiences recently, have been extremely successful. Audiences react wonderfully well. I had an interesting experience recently. The head of the American Cinematheque called me up one day and he said, ‘I want you to know I’m getting married and I would like to invite you to my wedding.’ I’m not a really close friend of his, but I said, ‘Fine, thank you and congratulations.’ He was going to wed at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard and they would run a movie after the ceremony. He said, ‘My bride-to-be and I have decided that we would like a movie that would reflect our feelings, one that we would especially like to see on our wedding day, and we both came up with your film “The Happy Time” [1952].’ So I went to the wedding, and afterwards they screened the picture. There were about 500 people and it got a standing ovation. When I walked out of the theater after the screening, I happened to be walking next to Leonard Maltin who I know pretty well. He put his arm around my shoulder and said, ‘You made me cry.’ It is a very tender, emotional film and I was very touched by that. It’s a wonderful feeling, and that’s why you’re in the job that you’re in. You love it and if it loves you back, that’s overwhelming.

Stanley Kramer 2
Producer-director Stanley Kramer (1913-2001), awesome filmmaker from the 1940s through the late 1970s. Picture: Karen Sharpe Kramer

That was your second film for producer Stanley Kramer, isn’t it?

Yes, and Stanley was one of my closest friends. I knew him for what he was: a very intelligent, ethical, sensitive and creative producer, a strong personality, well-educated, and he was a man with a heart of gold. For the role of Uncle Louis, he wanted Kurt Kasznar who had also played the part on the Broadway stage, but Kasznar asked too much money. As Stanley had a great eye for casting, he then considered Zero Mostel for the part. However, he was practically out of a job after testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee. So we looked him up in his small one-room apartment, handed him the script and made the deal right away. Stanley could have gotten him for practically nothing, but, God bless his heart, he offered him the same price as he had Kasznar. Zero Mostel was grateful and happy, and even when delighted his face wore a mournful look. But when Columbia’s Harry Cohn heard about it, he vowed Mostel would not appear in the film – no Commie in a Columbia picture. No matter how hard Stanley Kramer fought to keep Mostel in the cast, Cohn pulled the strings got away with it. Exit Zero Mostel, Kurt Kasznar resurfaced – and he turned out to be a very charming Uncle Louis as well.

“The Happy Time” was a very meaningful picture, and it still is, up until today.

In today’s films, they have the technique down, but they don’t have the story down. The performances are still terrific, you have such wonderful performances now with such mediocre material, so the actors are great, the photography is superb, the special effects are terrific, the stunt work is fabulous, but for what purpose? The stories are not there and without a story, you don’t have much. Technically we have improved a lot, but thematically, no. I also have the impression that a lot of the new directors don’t know how to tell a story; they put the story up there on the screen, but they don’t know how to make it work.

Why did you decide to write a book about the life, career and work of your father?

The autobiography of Mr. Fleischer 'Just Tell Me When to Cry'; the titel was inspired by his first encounter with Sylvia Sidney on the set of "Violent Saturday" (1955)
The autobiography of Mr. Fleischer ‘Just Tell Me When to Cry’ (1993); the title was inspired by his first encounter with actress Sylvia Sidney on the set of “Violent Saturday” (1955)

I like to write and I always wanted to do a biography about my him. Now that I more or less retired, I decided to start writing it because he’s in every book about animation, but there wasn’t one book with everything in it. Also, there was so much information that wasn’t mentioned, so I decided to collect all of his papers. It has become a very dramatic story, at times very funny, and it ends up rather tragically but then, at the end, in comes Betty Boop, his biggest success. And prior to that, I also enjoyed writing my own autobiography. You know there’s a funny story about actress Sylvia Sidney. She was one of my leading ladies in “Violent Saturday” (1955). In the early 1930s, when I was a young boy, she was not only one of the best dramatic actresses around, she was also a big, huge star. Back then, I could never have imagined that I was ever going to direct her myself. So the first time I met her in her dressing room, I told her about the plot of the film, how she fitted in the story, about her relationship with the other characters, and she didn’t even look up or didn’t ask a question – she was knitting, even though I went on and on. When I had finished, she said, ‘That’s very interesting, Mr. Fleischer, but you know what, when we’re on the set, you just tell me where to stand and I’ll be there. And whenever you need tears, just tell me when to cry.’

+ Mr. Fleischer passed away in Woodland Hills, California, on March 25, 2006, at age 89.

Beverly Hills, California
March 2003

Trailer of “Soylent Green” (1973), Edward G. Robinson final movie before he passed away at age 79.

FILMS

CHILD OF DIVORCE (RKO, 1946) DIR Richard O. Fleischer PROD Lillie Hayward SCR Lillie Hayward (play ‘Wednesday’s Child’ [1934] by Leopold L. Atlas) CAST Sharyn Moffet, Regis Toomey, Madge Meredith, Walter Reed, Una O’Connor

BANJO (RKO, 1947) DIR Richard O. Fleischer PROD – SCR Lillie Hayward CAST Sharyn Moffet, Jacqueline White, Walter Reed, Una O’Connor, Herbert Evans

SO THIS IS NEW YORK (United Artists, 1948) DIR Richard O. Fleischer PROD Stanley Kramer. SCR Carl Foreman, Herbert Baker (novel ‘The Big Town’ [1921] by Ring Lardner) CAST Henry Morgan, Rudy Vallee, Bill Goodwin, Hugh Herbert, Leo Gorcey, Virginia Grey

BODYGUARD (RKO, 1948) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Sid Rogell SCR Fred Niblo, Jr., Harry Essex (story by Robert B. Altman, George W. George) CAST Lawrence Tierney, Priscilla Lane, Philip Reed, June Clayworth, Elisabeth Risdon, Steve Brodie

VARIETY TIME (RKO, 1948) DIR Hal Yates, Richard Fleischer PROD George Bilson SCR Hal Law, Hal Yates, Leo Solomon, Joseph Quillan CAST Edgar Kennedy, Leon Errol, Hans Conreid, Dorothy Granger, Jack Norton

THE CLAY PIDGEON (RKO, 1949) DIR Richard O. Fleischer PROD Herman Schlom SCR Carl Foreman (also story) CAST Bill Williams, Barbara Hale, Richard Quine, Richard Loo, Frank Fenton, Martha Hyer

FOLLOW ME QUIETLY (RKO, 1949) DIR Richard O. Fleischer PROD Herman Schlom SCR Lillie Hayward (story by Francis Rosenwald, Anthony Mann) CAST William Lundigan, Dorothy Patrick, Jeff Corey, Nestor Paiva, Charles D. Brown

MAKE MINE LAUGHS (RKO, 1949) DIR Richard O. Fleischer, Hal Yates PROD George Bilson SCR Hal Yates CAST Ray Bolger, Leon Errol, Frances Langford, Myrna Dell, Dorothy Grainger, Anne Shirley, Dennis Day

TRAPPED (Eagle-Lion, 1949) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Bryan Foy SCR Earl Fenton, George Zuckerman (story by Earl Fenton, George Zuckerman) CAST Lloyd Bridges, Barbara Payton, John Hoyt, James Todd, Russ Conway

ARMORED CAR ROBBERY (RKO, 1950) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Herman Schlom SCR Earl Fenton, Gerald Drayson Adams (story by Robert Angus, Robert Leeds) CAST Charles McGraw, Adele Jergens, William Talman, Douglas Fowley, Steve Brodie

HIS KIND OF WOMAN (RKO, 1951) DIR John Farrow, Richard Fleischer (uncredited) PROD Robert Sparks SCR Frank Fenton, Jack Leonard (story by Gerald Drayson Adams) CAST Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price, Tim Holt, Charles McGraw, Mamie Van Doren

THE NARROW MARGIN (RKO, 1952) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Stanley Rubin SCR Earl Fenton (story by Martin Goldsmith, Jack Leonard) CAST Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White, Gordon Gebert, David Clarke

THE HAPPY TIME (Columbia, 1952) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Stanley Kramer SCR Earl Felton (novel ‘The Happy Time’ [1945] by Robert Fontaine; play ‘The Happy Time’ [1950] by Samuel Arthur Taylor) CAST Charles Boyer, Louis Jourdan, Marsha Hunt, Kurt Kasznar, Linda Christian, Bobby Driscoll

ARENA (MGM, 1953) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Arthur M. Loew, Jr. SCR Harold Jack Bloom (story by Arthur M. Loew, Jr.) CAST Gig Young, Jean Hagen, Polly Bergen, Henry Morgan, Barbara Lawrence

20.000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (Buena Vista, 1954) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Walt Disney SCR Earl Felton (novel ‘Vingt mille lieues sous les mers’ [1870, a.k.a. ‘20.000 Leagues Under the Sea’] by Jules Verne) CAST Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas, Peter Lorre, Robert J. Wilke

VIOLENT SATURDAY (20th Century Fox, 1955) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Buddy Adler SCR Sidney Boehm (novel ‘Violent Saturday’ [1955] by William L. Heath) CAST Victor Mature, Richard Egan, Stephen McNally, Virginia Leith, Lee Marvin, Sylvia Sidney, Ernest Borgnine

THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING (20th Century Fox, 1955) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Charles Brackett SCR Walter Reisch, Charles Brackett CAST Ray Milland, Joan Collins, Farley Granger, Luther Adler, Cornelia Otis Skinner

BANDIDO (United Artists, 1956) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Robert L. Jacks SCR Earl Fenton (also story) CAST Robert Mitchum, Ursula Thiess, Gilbert Roland, Zachary Scott, Rodolfo Acosta

BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL (20th Century Fox, 1956) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD David Weisbart SCR Harry Brown (novel ‘The Day the Century Ended’ [1955] by Francis Irby Gwaltney) CAST Robert Wagner, Terry Moore, Broderick Crawford, Buddy Ebsen, Robert Keith

THE VIKINGS (United Artists, 1957) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Jerry Bressler SCR Calder Willingham (novel ‘The Viking’ [1951] by Edison Marshall) CAST Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Ernest Borgnine, James Donald, Alexander Knox

THESE THOUSAND HILLS (20th Century Fox, 1958) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD David Weisbart SCR Alfred Hayes (novel ‘These Thousand Hills’ [1956] by A.B. Guthrie, Jr.) CAST Don Murray, Richard Egan, Lee Remick, Patricia Owens, Stuart Whitman

COMPULSION (20th Century Fox, 1958). DIR Richard Fleischer. PROD Richard D. Zanuck. SCR Richard Murphy (novel ‘Compulsion’ [1956] by Meyer Levin). CAST Orson Welles, Diane Varsi, Dean Stockwell, Bradford Dillman, E.G. Marshall

CRACK IN THE MIRROR (20th Century Fox, 1960) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Darryl F. Zanuck. SCR Mark Canfield (novel ‘Drame dans un mirroir’ [1958] by Marcel Haedrich) CAST Orson Welles, Juliette Gréco, Bradford Dillman, Alexander Knox, Catherine Lacey

THE BIG GAME (20th Century Fox, 1960) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Darryl F. Zanuck SCR Irving Shaw CAST Stephen Boyd, Juliette Gréco, David Wayne, Sybil Thorndike, Fernand Ledoux

BARABBAS (Columbia, 1961) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Dino De Laurentiis SCR Christopher Fry, Diego Fabbri, Ivo Perilli, Nigel Balchin (novel ‘Barabbas’ [1950] by Pär Lagerkvist) CAST Anthony Quinn, Vittorio Gassman, Jack Palance, Silvano Mangano, Michael Gwynn, Arthur Kennedy, Ernest Borgnine, Katy Jurado, Valentina Cortese

FANTASTIC VOYAGE (20th Century Fox, 1965) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Saul David SCR Harry Kleiner (adaptation by David Duncan, story by Otto Klement, Jay Lewis Bixby) CAST Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Arthur Kennedy, Donald Pleasence, William Redfield, Edmond O’Brien, Arthur O’Connell

DOCTOR DOLITTLE (20th Century Fox, 1967) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Arthur P. Jacobs SCR Leslie Bricusse CAST Rex Harrison, Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley, William Dix, Peter Bull, Richard Attenborough

THE BOSTON STRANGLER (20th Century Fox, 1968) DIR Richard Fleischer. PROD Robert Fryer SCR Edward Anhalt (book ‘The Boston Strangler’ [1966] by Gerold Frank) CAST Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, George Kennedy, Mike Kellin, Murray Hamilton

CHE! (20th Century Fox, 1969) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Sy Bartlett SCR Sy Bartlett, Michael Wilson (story by Sy Bartlett, David Karp) CAST Omar Sharif, Jack Palance, Cesare Danova, Robert Loggia, Woody Strode

TORA! TORA! TORA! (20th Century Fox, 1970) DIR Richard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda, Kinji Fukasaku PROD Elmo Williams SCR Larry Forrester, Hideo Oguni, Ryuzo Kikushima (book ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ [1963] by Gordon W. Prange; book ‘The Broken Seal: Operation Magic and the Secret Road to Pearl Harbor’ [1967] by Ladislas Farago) CAST Martin Balsam, James Whitmore, Jason Robards, Soh Yamamura, Eijiro Tono, E.G. Marshall, Joseph Cotten

10, RILLINGTON PLACE (Columbia, 1971) DIR Richard Fleischer. PROD Martin Ransohoff, Leslie Linder SCR Clive Exton (novel ‘Ten Rillington Place’ [1961] by Ludovic Kennedy) CAST Richard Attenborough, Judy Geeson, John Hurt, Pat Heywood, Isobel Black

SEE NO EVIL, UK title: BLIND TERROR (Columbia, 1972) DIR Richard Fleischer. PROD Martin Ransohoff, Leslie Linder SCR Brian Clemens CAST Mia Farrow, Norman Eshley, Paul Nicholas, Robin Bailey, Dorothy Alison

THE LAST RUN (MGM, 1972) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Carter De Haven SCR Alan Sharp CAST George C. Scott, Tony Musante, Trish Van Devere, Colleen Dewhurst, Aldo Sanbrell

THE NEW CENTURIONS, UK title: PRECINCT 45: LOS ANGELES POLICE (Columbia, 1972) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff SCR Stirling Silliphant (novel ‘The New Centurions’ [1971] by Joseph Wambaugh) CAST Stacy Keach, George C. Scott, Scott Wilson, Jane Alexander, Rosalind Cash, Clifton James

SOYLENT GREEN (MGM, 1973) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Walter Setzler, Russell Thacker SCR Stanley R. Greenberg (novel ‘Make Room! Make Room!’ [1966] by Harry Harrison) CAST Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Leigh Taylor Young, Chuck Connors, Paula Kelly, Brock Peters, Joseph Cotton

THE DON IS DEAD (Universal, 1973) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Hal Wallis SCR Marvin H. Albert (also novel ‘The Don Is Dead’ [1972];Giles tippette

adaptation by Christopher Trumbo, Michael Philip Butler) CAST Anthony Quinn, Frederic Forrest, Robert Forster, Al Lettieri, Angel Tompkins

MR. MAJESTYC (United Artists, 1974) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Walter Mirisch SCR Elmore Leonard CAST Charles Bronson, Linda Christal, Al Lettieri, Paul Koslo, Taylor Lacher, Lee Purcell

THE SPIKES GANG (United Artists, 1974) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Walter Mirisch. SCR Irving Ravetch, Harriet Frank, Jr. (novel ‘The Bank Robber’ by Giles Tippette) CAST Lee Marvin, Gary Grimes, Ron Howard, Charlie Martin Smith, Arthur Hunnicutt

MANDINGO (Paramount, 1975) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Dino De Laurentiis. SCR Norman Wexler (novel ‘Mandingo’ [1957] by Kyle Onstott; play ‘Mandingo’ [1961] play by Jack Kirkland) CAST James Mason, Susan George, Perry King, Richard Ward, Brenda Sykes, Ken Norton

THE INCREDIBLE SARAH (Readers Digest, 1976) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Helen M. Strauss SCR Ruth Wolff CAST Glenda Jackson, Daniel Massey, Yvonne Mitchell, Douglas Wilmer, David Langton

CROSSED SWORDS, UK title: THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (Warner Bros., 1977) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Pierre Spengler SCR Pierre Spengler, George MacDonald Fraser, Berta Dominguez (novel ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ [1881] by Mark Twain) CAST Mark Lester, Oliver Reed, David Hemmings, Raquel Welch, Ernest Borgnine, George C. Scott, Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison

ASHANTI (Warner Bros., 1979). DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Georges-Alain Vuille SCR Stephen Geller (novel ‘Ebano’ by Alberto Vazquez-Figueroa) CAST Michael Caine, Omar Sharif, Peter Ustinov, Rex Harrison, Beverly Johnson, William Holden

THE JAZZ SINGER (Columbia, 1980) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Jerry Leider SCR Herbert Baker (short story ‘The Day of Atonement’ [1922] by Samson Raphaelson; play ‘The Day of Atonement’ [1925] by Samson Raphaelson) CAST Neil Diamond, Laurence Olivier, Lucie Arnaz, Catlin Adams, Franklyn Ajaye

TOUGH ENOUGH (20th Century Fox, 1983) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD William F. Gilmore. SCR John Leone CAST Dennis Quaid, Carlene Watkins, Stan Shaw, Pam Grier, Warren Oates, Bruce McGill, Wilford Brimley

AMITYVILLE 3-D (Orion, 1983) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Steven F. Kesten. SCR William Wales CAST Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Robert Joy, Candy Clark, John Beal

CONAN THE DESTROYER (Universal, 1984) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Raffaella De Laurentiis SCR Stanley Mann (story by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, based on the characters created by Robert E. Howard) CAST Arnold Schwarzenegger, Grace Jones, Wilt Chamberlain, Mako, Tracey Walter

RED SONJA (MGM/UA, 1986) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Christian Ferry SCR Clive Exton, George MacDonald Fraser (characters created by Robert E. Howard) CAST Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brigitte Nielsen, Sandahl Bergman, Paul Smith, Ernie Reyes, Jr.

MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY (De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, 1987) DIR Richard Fleischer PROD Stephen F. Kesten SCR Rudy De Luca, Tim Metcalfe, Miguel Tejada-Flores CAST Eddie Deezen, Wendy Sherman, Rick Overton, Mona Lyden, Douglas Emerson

CALL FROM SPACE (1989) DIR Richard Fleischer SCR Chris Langham, Sarah Paris CAST Bill Campbell, Richard Brestoff, Sherrie Krenn, Marjorie Stapp, Charlton Heston, James Coburn

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Just Tell Me When to Cry: A Memoir (1993); Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., New York, New York, publisher

BIOGRAPHY: Out of the Inckwell: Max Fleischer and the Animation Revolution (2005); University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, publisher