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Also Known As: Alan William Parker, Sir Alan Parker Died:
Born: February 14, 1944 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Islington, England, GB Profession: director, screenwriter, producer, office boy, advertising copywriter, cartoonist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

From his humble beginnings as an office boy at age 19, Alan Parker worked his way up in the advertising business and began his career in earnest when he and partner Alan Marshall founded a production company to make industrial films and commercials. Between 1969 and 1978, Parker churned out over 500 television commercials, winning every major industry award, while also being cited as an important influence on both fashion and film style of that time. He adeptly used lighting, and his sense of drama as a feature film director has seemed to come as much from his early need to convey a message in 30 seconds as from a sense of pictorial grace.In 1973, Parker wrote and directed a 50-minute film, "No Hard Feelings", which the BBC bought and eventually aired several years later. "The Evacuees" (1975), his first film produced for the BBC, brought attention from the theatrical marketplace. The following year, he and producer David Puttnam collaborated on Parker's debut as a writer-director, "Bugsy Malone", a musical spoof of gangster films with an all-children cast. His second feature, the powerful "Midnight Express" (1978) was based on the true story of an American arrested in Turkey for drug smuggling and...

From his humble beginnings as an office boy at age 19, Alan Parker worked his way up in the advertising business and began his career in earnest when he and partner Alan Marshall founded a production company to make industrial films and commercials. Between 1969 and 1978, Parker churned out over 500 television commercials, winning every major industry award, while also being cited as an important influence on both fashion and film style of that time. He adeptly used lighting, and his sense of drama as a feature film director has seemed to come as much from his early need to convey a message in 30 seconds as from a sense of pictorial grace.

In 1973, Parker wrote and directed a 50-minute film, "No Hard Feelings", which the BBC bought and eventually aired several years later. "The Evacuees" (1975), his first film produced for the BBC, brought attention from the theatrical marketplace. The following year, he and producer David Puttnam collaborated on Parker's debut as a writer-director, "Bugsy Malone", a musical spoof of gangster films with an all-children cast. His second feature, the powerful "Midnight Express" (1978) was based on the true story of an American arrested in Turkey for drug smuggling and earned six Oscar nominations, including one for Parker. (It won for the awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Score.)

Parker followed the popular and stylish musical "Fame" (1980), his first US-produced feature, with arguably his most personal film "Shoot the Moon" (1981), a sensitively detailed examination of the disintegration of a marriage. The quirky, touching "Birdy" (1984) and the controversial "Angel Heart" (1987) solidified his reputation as a highly visual storyteller whose palette made use of the soundtrack as well as strong imagery. "Mississippi Burning" (1988), a glossy recreation of a famous civil rights murder case was praised for its fine performances (particularly by Gene Hackman as a veteran FBI man), but drew fire for its glib reworking of history. Plunging into farce, Parker directed Anthony Hopkins in "The Road To Wellville" (1994), a send-up of American health fadist John Kellogg. Parker also produced and wrote the screenplay based on T. Coraghessan Boyle's novel, but the colorful casting and spectacular cinematography was pretty much wasted on this uneven romp.

Among his contemporaries, Parker is the only director courageous enough to return again and again to the movie musical. Of course, good reviews build confidence, and critics have been generous with their praise of his efforts. The charming idea of casting kids in a gangster movie struck a responsive chord in most and "Bugsy Malone" also profited from an astonishingly assured performance from a 13-year-old Jodie Foster. His insights into talented young people and his ability to tell their stories in dozens of vignettes as opposed to a conventional linear plot helped insure the success of "Fame", and in "Pink Floyd--The Wall" (1982), he transformed a best-selling rock album into one of the great modern musicals. Visually stunning in its wide array of images that included animated sequences by cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, this movie appealed to a much wider audience than just rock 'n' roll fans. "The Commitments" (1991) for all its high energy and great soul music fell a bit short of the mark established by his other musicals, and though his "Evita" (1996) was epic, lavish and fascinating, the MTV-style editing diluted the inherent power of the material and worked against the integrity of Madonna's titular performance.

Always fiercely independent, Parker has often lambasted the British film establishment and film critics. No stranger to controversy, he took on the ratings board of the MPAA and personally challenged their "X" rating of "Angel Heart". Parker has also authored a compilation of satirical cartoons, "Hares in the Gate" (1982), and in 1984 produced "A Turnip Head's Guide to British Cinema", a sarcastic documentary which ridiculed the critical mentality, a film that delighted his filmmaking contemporaries as well as his four children, whom he has cited as his chief inspiration.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Life of David Gale, The (2003) Director
2.
  Angela's Ashes (1999) Director
3.
  Evita (1996) Director
4.
  Road to Wellville, The (1994) Director
5.
  Commitments, The (1991) Director
6.
  Come See the Paradise (1990) Director
7.
  Mississippi Burning (1988) Director
8.
  Angel Heart (1987) Director
9.
  Birdy (1984) Director
10.
  Shoot the Moon (1982) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Angela's Ashes (1999) Doctor Campbell
3.
 Commitments, The (1991) Eejit Record Producer
5.
6.
 It's Black Entertainment (2000) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
First worked as office boy for HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT NEWS
1963:
After graduating from high school, joined advertising agency as an office boy at age 19 (date approximate)
:
After working at various agencies and progressing to writing copy, landed at Collet, Dickinson and Pearce; while there met David Puttnam and Alan Marshall; also worked with Ridley Scott and Adrian Lyne
1966:
At urging of Puttnam, went to work on first feature film script; eventually made as "Melody" (1972), Puttnam's producing debut
1968:
Television commercial directing debut
1969:
Directed nearly 500 TV commercials in London
1970:
Formed own production company, The Alan Parker Film Company, with Alan Marshall
1973:
Medium-length film writing and directing debut, "No Hard Feelings" (50 mins); independently produced (Parker invested his own 30,000 pounds), it was subsequently bought by the BBC, and aired in 1976
1975:
TV-movie directing debut, "The Evacuees" (BBC-produced)
1976:
Feature film directing debut (also writer), "Bugsy Malone"
1977:
Published novel, "Puddles in the Lane"
1978:
Directed the international hit "Midnight Express"; won Oscar nomination as Best Director
1980:
First US-produced feature, "Fame"
1982:
Published collection of cartoons, "Hares in the Gate"
1982:
Expanded the themes of the bestselling rock concept album in the film version of "Pink Floyd--The Wall"; employed innovative animation techniques
1984:
Scored big at Cannes Film Festival with "Birdy"
1987:
Personally challenged the ratings board of the MPAA for their "X" rating of "Angel Heart"
1988:
Helmed the civil rights drama "Mississippi Burning"; film received seven Academy Award nominations including one for Parker's direction
1991:
Returned to movie musical format with "The Commitments", an upbeat story of poor North Dublin kids who form a band to play American soul music
1994:
Wrote, produced and directed "The Road to Wellville", a sendup of health fadist John Kellogg
1996:
Film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's "Evita" opened to mixed reviews
1997:
Signed first-look producing deal with PolyGram (May)
1997:
Appointed as chair of the British Film Institute (BFI)
2000:
Became head of the Film Council, which oversees funding allotted to the British Film Commission, the Arts Council's Film Lottery panel, the British Film Institute and British Screen Finance
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Owen's School: - 1960

Notes

Awarded knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year's Eve honors 2001.

"... film is a collaborative art form, I quite like working with a lot of people as long as there is one singular vision. In that respect, you have to be quite tough, egocentric about it. I wanted to be a writer. I never ever wanted to be a director when I started. To me, writing was the most important thing and that is a very singular occupation ... I suppose the beauty of film is that you do get to reach a very wide audience. The language of film is pretty universal ... It's quite exciting for me to know that's how I can communicate to people." --Alan Parker, quoted in Location Update, 1988.

"I'd direct another musical, though maybe not immediately. But you know, no one's ever been able to persuade Andrew [Lloyd Webber] to do an original score for a musical film. Now that I have an in, maybe he'll do it for me one day." --Alan Parker quoted in Los Angeles Times, December 24, 1996.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Annie Inglis. Married on July 30, 1966; granted an uncontested divorce on January 6, 1992 on the grounds of her husband's adultery.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Elsie Ellen Parker.
father:
William Leslie Parker. Worked in the transport departmant of London <i>Times</i>.
daughter:
Lucy Kate Parker.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Puddles in the Lane"
"Hare in the Garden"

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