End Credits #25: Cinema's 2014 Lost Treasures Mike Nichols, Charles Champlin, Ken Takakura
These are some of Cinema's sad departures of 2014 taken from my personal notes soon after the tragic events took place:
Legendary film director Mike Nichols (November 6, 1931 - November 19, 2014) has died at age 83. His exceptional talent was witnessed in television, on stage, as a film director, producer, writer, and comedian. He gave us such cinematic landmarks as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate, Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, Working Girl, and The Birdcage. Nichols won at least one of all of the four major entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony and was one of 5 recipients of the 2003 Kennedy Center Honors. He directed 17 different actors in Oscar nominated performances. Having helmed 1967's The Graduate, Nichols became one of only 7 directors to win the Golden Globe, Director's Guild, BAFTA, and Oscar for the same movie. He's won more Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play than any other individual. His Emmy wins were for 2001's Wit and 2003's Angels In America. The last film he directed was 2007's Charlie Wilson's War. A titan of the film world is sadly gone. Thankfully we have his cinematic treasures left to cherish.
Charles Champlin, longtime critic for the Los Angeles Times (from 1965 - 19991) has died at age 88. Champlin would see up to 250 films per year and review about half of them. His reviews were always tremendously insightful, concise and respectful. They never drew undue attention to their author by way of impertinent witticisms, a quality which escaped a few of his peers. Champlin was a noted author of books on film, e.g. Conversations with John Frankenheimer published in 1995, and hosted TV shows for Los Angeles public station KCET, PBS and Bravo featuring classic films and prominent filmmakers such as Jean Renoir and Alfred Hitchcock.
On a personal note, as a young teenager, I voraciously read his reviews in L.A. and enjoyed tremendously comparing his thoughts to other critics and my own. He introduced me to many foreign film classics by way of his television programs. Later in life, I had the pleasure of meeting him more than a few times usually at the Earthling Bookstore in Santa Barbara (a small coastal city in California). He was always friendly and giving of his time, a true gentleman and loved to talk about all things movie related. Once he introduced Beat the Devil, a favourite film of his, which proved to be a most enjoyable evening for its attendees. I admired him greatly. He was a true champion to film lovers and will be sorely missed. My sincerest condolences to his family and friends.
Ken Takakura ( February 16, 1931- November 10, 2014) an accomplished and prolific Japanese actor has died at age 83. He became famous for playing yakuza outlaws in the 1960's, typically loners who would respond only after being provoked. For these roles he was famously known as the "Clint Eastwood of Japan." Western audiences will recognize him for his brooding and intense performance in The Yakuza and especially as a Japanese police officer in Black Rain. His last film was 2012's Dearest.