Michael Winner dies

Controversial director dies aged 77.

by Jennie Kermode

Despite what people say, there are very few truly distinctive characters in cinema, few individuals who remain true to their artistic vision throughout their careers. Love him or loathe him, Michael Winner was such a man. He died today at the age of 77 following a long battle with liver problems. "A light has gone out in my life," said his wife Geraldine.

Perhaps best known for his work with Charles Bronson and the Death Wish series they made together, Winner also worked with Robert Mitchum on noir remake The Big Sleep and shot a total of 35 features over the course of his career. Often outspoken, he developed a second career as a newspaper columnist which made his natural warmth and humour visible to audiences that had previously only associated him with violence. His natural home was the thriller but he also experimented with horror, scoring a hit with The Sentinel in 1977, and made occasional ventures into documentary.

Frequently sending up his own image, Winner starred in a series of car commercials using the catchphrase "Calm down, dear," which would later get David Cameron into trouble. He was amused by public perceptions of him as a sexist boor, very different from the man his friends remember. He turned down the offer of an OBE for his work with police charities, dismissing it as a meaningless award. His legacy is his work, and if, at the heart of that, is the creation of the modern anti-hero, it's something with which he was happy enough.

Share this with others on...
News

Sense memories Robert Tinnell on Feast Of The Seven Fishes and family memories

Keeping his word Michael Apted in conversation on 63 Up

Talking about juxtapositions Thom Powers on dreams, fashion, identity, nature and bright spotlights in DOC NYC

Dedicated to DA Pennebaker Thom Powers on Martin Scorsese, Michael Apted, the Masters and Winner’s Circle in the tenth edition

EIFF goes coastal Free Film Fest on the Forth announced

DOC NYC award winners announced Viewfinders, Metropolis, Shorts and Short List results

More news and features

We're bring you coverage of the London Korean Film Festival and DOC NYC and the French Film Festival.



We're looking forward to Tallinn Black Nights and Welsh horror festival Abertoir.



We've recently been at the Valencia Film Festival, New York's NewFest, the Cambridge Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the Iris Prize Festival in Cardiff, Manchester's Grimmfest, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival and the San Sebastian Film Festival.



Read our full for more.


Visit our festivals section.

Interact

More competitions coming soon.