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Sunday, 7 July, 2002, 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK
Director John Frankenheimer dies
Maria Schell and Jason Robards Jr. look up as they follow the coaching of John Frankenheimer (right), director of For Whom the Bell Tolls in this 1953 photo
Frankenheimer (right) was nominated for 14 Emmys
The Hollywood film director, John Frankenheimer, whose works included such classics as The Manchurian Candidate and Birdman of Alcatraz, has died at the age of 72.

Full bore...You just got to give it everything. And sometimes that's not even enough

John Frankenheimer
Frankenheimer, whose career in both films and television spanned nearly five decades, was nominated for 14 Emmy Awards and was perhaps best known as a master of films about dark government conspiracies.

He died on Saturday of a stroke due to complications following spinal surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

"John Frankenheimer chose a camera as his form of expression. For those of us who love movies, thank God he did," former Paramount and MGM head Frank Mancuso Sr. said.

"His passionate commitment to filmmaking provided the world with many treasures."

"Full bore. You gotta give it everything... and sometimes that's not even enough," Frankenheimer said in an interview with the Associate Press agency in 1998.

Political thrillers

A native New Yorker, Frankenheimer had his first taste of film making with the Motion Picture Squadron of the US Air Force.

John Frankenheimer
Frankenheimer ran into personal difficulties in the 1960s

His career began properly in 1953 when he walked into the CBS office in New York and persuaded network officials to give him a job as an assistant director.

He first came to prominence in 1961 with the film The Young Savages, with Burt Lancaster.

The following year, he worked with Lancaster again in the Birdman of Alcatraz, which told the story of a death row inmate who became a world expert on birds.

But perhaps Frankenheimer's most enduring work was The Manchurian Candidate (1962).

This was the story of a decorated veteran of the Korean war whose brain was altered in a detention camp to programme him to kill a liberal politician.

Its timing was perfect - it was still in circulation during the 1963 assassination of President John F Kennedy.

Frankenheimer continued to build on the theme of dark government conspiracies.

He later directed Seven Days in May, in which American military leaders plot to overthrow the president.

He also produced a string of 152 live television dramas in the 1950s.

'Solace in the bottle'

A close friend of President Kennedy, Frankenheimer was deeply shaken by his death and ran into some personal difficulties, including a drinking problem.

"It took a toll on me. And the state of mind you're in when have a problem like that, even when you're not drunk, is the most dangerous time," he admitted in an interview to New York Times in 1998.

"Because you make decisions that are not totally in your best interest - about your life, about your career choices and everything."

Frankenheimer returned to television with the HBO network the 1990s and directed such highly acclaimed production as Against the Wall, The Burning Season, Andersonville and George Wallace.

His later movies included Ronin (1998) and Reindeer Games (2000).

The BBC's Wendy Urquhart
"He worked with the top writers, producers and actors"
See also:

07 Jul 02 | Film
17 Jun 98 | Entertainment
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