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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
Guns of Navarone director dies
Charles Bronson
Thompson directed Charles Bronson in nine films
British director John Lee Thompson, whose films included the original Cape Fear and The Guns of Navarone, has died at the age of 88.

The film-maker, who was credited under the name J Lee Thompson, also directed Hollywood actor Charles Bronson in nine movies, including Murphy's Law and Death Wish IV.

Mr Thompson, who was born in Bristol, died of congestive heart failure in Sooke, British Columbia.

"He was a very large directorial presence," said co-producer Pancho Kohner.


Working with Lee, you were spoiled

Pancho Kohner, producer
"He was a gentleman and such a pleasure to work with. Everyone who worked with him once wanted to work with him again and again."

Mr Kohner collaborated with Thompson on a number of Bronson action films including St Ives, 10 to Midnight, Messenger of Death and White Buffalo.

Directorial debut

They also worked together on Mr Thompson's last film, Kinjinte in 1989, which also starred Bronson.

Mr Thompson's film career spans back more than 50 years. He made his directorial debut in 1950 with Murder Without Crime.

He worked with Hollywood legends Diana Dors, Yul Brynner and Anthony Quinn on The Greek Tycoon in 1978.

He was also responsible for bringing together Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum for the chilling thriller Cape Fear in 1962.

Director Martin Scorsese remade the film in 1991, pairing Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte for the blockbuster.

"Working with Lee, you were spoiled," Mr Kohner said.

"He had the uncanny ability to play the film in his mind. He would know exactly what shot he needed so there was no wasted effort.

"He was a talented craftsman."

Hitchcock voice coach

Mr Thompson was not adverse to mucking in with the crew and in 1998 he took a position as a boom microphone operator on the horror movie Bride of Chucky.

He began his film career after fighting in World War II, starting as an editing assistant in London's Elstree Studios.

He progressed to working as a dialogue coach on Alfred Hitchcock films.

He moved to the US following the success of The Guns of Navorone, which was nominated for a best director Academy Award but was beaten by West Side Story.

While in the US he directed the sequels to Planet of the Apes, including Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

Mr Thompson leaves behind his wife of 40 years, Penny, a daughter and a grand-daughter.

See also:

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