Biography

The man once cited by none other than François Truffaut as one of American cinema's greatest talents, filmmaker Richard Rush helped launch the careers of such cinematic luminaries as Jack Nicholson and Francis Ford Coppola, though his own stalled after The Stunt Man in 1980. A New York City native whose training in the U.C.L.A. film department fueled his passion of movies, early work as a recording engineer helped Rush learn the technical side of filmmaking, while working in industrial films gave him an eye for continuity and flow. Dubbed "the first American New Wave director" after his 1960 directorial debut Too Soon to Love (which he also wrote and produced) was acquired for distribution by Universal, subsequent exploitation flicks Hell's Angels on Wheels (1967) and Psych-Out (1968) established him as a filmmaker who could turn out an entertaining quickie on short notice. After Getting Straight became Universal's highest grossing film of 1970, Rush's unique style of social satire had been fairly well demonstrated onscreen; Freebie and the Bean (1974) also made a notable impression at the box office. A bizarre meditation on America's fascination with violence in entertainment, the offbeat buddy actioner benefited greatly from inspired performances by leads James Caan and Alan Arkin. As puzzling as his last few efforts had been, however, Rush's true masterpiece was The Stunt Man. Though the film took nine years for him to get made, the bid paid off. With a production and distribution history said to rival that of Citizen Kane, The Stunt Man earned the director Oscar nominations for writing and directing. Curiously, this would be his last movie until the forgettable erotic thriller Color of Night in 1994. In the years that followed, Rush shied away from directorial duties; his next job behind the camera was The Sinister Saga of Making "The Stunt Man," a documentary prepared for the film's DVD release. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi