End of an epic career

April 17, 1991|By Lou Cedrone | Lou Cedrone,Evening Sun Staff

MENTION THE name of David Lean, and the word that comes immediately to mind is epic. Lean, British-born film director who died yesterday at the age of 83, was responsible for films like ''Bridge on the River Kwai'' (1957), ''Lawrence of Arabia'' (1962), ''Dr. HD (1965), ''Ryan's Daughter'' (1970) and, most recently, ''Passage to India'' (1984).

His movies won 28 Academy Awards, including two for Best Director for "Lawrence" and "Kwai." ''Lawrence" won seven.

Lean began his career doing smaller films. He was first an editor, then he became a cutter. When he was given his chance to direct, he did ''This Happy Breed,'' ''Brief Encounter'' and ''Blithe Spirit,'' all in collaboration with Noel Coward, a name never associated with sweep and grandeur, two more words frequently used to describe Lean's later films.

Lean went to bigger themes with ''Great Expectations'' (1945) and ''Oliver Twist'' (1948), then in 1955 he directed Katharine Hepburn in the classic ''Summertime,'' a smaller project filmed in Venice.

It was ''The Bridge on the River Kwai'' that brought him back to the large-scale film, and Lean was once more able to display his rather remarkable ability to combine bigness with intimacy.

Lean abandoned the screen for some 14 years, after ''Ryan's Daughter'' failed to impress the critics. Lean was not forgiving.

''Passage to India'' marked his return to the screen, and before he died, he was preparing to do a film version of Joseph Conrad's ''Nostramo.''

Queen Elizabeth II knighted Lean in 1984, and last year, the American Film Institute named him the recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award.

If you want to see the kind of film for which this man was best known, catch ''Dr. HD at the Senator. The epic film will show there today and tomorrow. The movie, 26 years old, looks as though it were made yesterday.

Films by David Lean

The principal films directed by David Lean:

"In Which We Serve," 1942.

"This Happy Breed," 1944.

"Blithe Spirit," 1945.

"Brief Encounter," 1945.

"Great Expectations," 1946.

"Oliver Twist," 1948.

"One Woman's Story" 1949.

"Madeleine," 1950.

"Breaking the Sound Barrier," 1952.

"Hobson's Choice," 1954.

"Summertime," 1955.

"Bridge on the River Kwai," 1957.

"Lawrence of Arabia," 1962.

"Dr. Zhivago," 1965.

"Ryan's Daughter," 1970.

"A Passage to India," 1984.

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