Oscar Directors: Anderson, Michael–Director of Around the World in 80 Days and Logan’s Run, Dies at 98

Michael Anderson, the British director who received Oscar nomination for making the sprawling spectacle Around the World in 80 Days and the cult sci-fi classic Logan’s Run, died in Vancouver Wednesday, April 25, 2018.  He was 98.

Anderson directed several war films, such as The Dam Busters (1955), The Yangtse Incident (1957) and Operation Crossbow (1965).

With his death, Romeo and Juliet‘s Franco Zeffirelli, 95, is now the oldest living person to receive a best director nomination, according to jistorisn  Rhett Bartlett.

 

A native of London, Anderson worked with such British leading men as Michael Redgrave (Dam Busters, 1984, The Wreck of the Mary Deare), Alec Guinness (Operation Crossbow, The Quiller Memorandum), Peter Ustinov (Logan’s Run), Richard Todd (Chase a Crooked Shadow), Laurence Olivier (The Shoes of the Fisherman) and David Niven, the urbane star of Around the World in 80 Days (1956).

The adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1873 adventure novel earned the best picture Oscar as one of its five Academy Awards.

Anderson, who made the film when he was just 35. replacing John Farrow just days into production, was nominated but lost out to George Stevens of Giant (the only Academy Award that film received from its 10 noms). Farrow shared the Oscar for adapted screenplay.

First-time movie producer Michael Todd, who came from Broadway, purportedly told exhibitors that Around the World in 80 Days was much more than a film: “Movies are something you can see in your neighborhood theater and eat popcorn while you’re watching them … Show Around the World in 80 Days almost exactly as you would present a Broadway show.”

The film centers on Phileas Fogg (Niven) and his valet, Passepartout (Mexican comic actor Cantinflas), as they try to win a £20,000 bet by circling the globe in record time. Among the more than 40 “world famous stars” in the movie were Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra, John Gielgud, Edward R. Murrow, Noel Coward, Charles Boyer, Ronald Colman, Robert Newton, Marlene Dietrich, Buster Keaton, Victor McLaglen and Red Skelton.

Around the World in 80 Days set records for the most camera set-ups (more than 2,000), sets and costumes; the most people (68,894) photographed in separate worldwide locations (140 in 13 countries were used); and the greatest distance traveled to make a film (4 million air-passenger miles).

Its budget — an estimated $6 million (the equivalent of roughly $55 million today) — was huge as well. The film grossed $42 million domestically, or about $385 million now, second to only The Ten Commandments that year.

Eighteen months after the original film was released, Todd died in a plane crash, making a widow of Elizabeth Taylor.

MGM’s Logan’s Run (1976) followed society in the year 2274, where population control is practiced by killing off citizens once they reach age 30. The opening titles read: “Sometime in the 23rd century … the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside.”

British star Michael York, who had worked with Anderson a year earlier in Conduct Unbecoming (1975), starred as Logan-5 opposite Jenny Agutter and Farrah Fawcett-Majors. The film earned $50 million worldwide, marking Anderson’s height as a feature director.

Anderson was born January 30, 1920. His father was a stage actor, and his grand-aunt was American actress Mary Anderson (Lifeboat, Gone With the Wind).

He served in the British Army’s Royal Signal Corps, where he met Ustinov; the two soon co-wrote and co-directed Private Angelo (1949), a war comedy about an Italian soldier (Ustinov) in World War II who tries, rather unsuccessfully, to avoid violence.

Anderson made the highly regarded Dam Busters, about a British demolition team led by Redgrave and Todd that tries to blow up a Ruhr dam in Germany. The film garnered an Oscar nomination for best effects.

Anderson recruited Redgrave again for the 1956 release of 1984, the first movie adaptation of George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel.

Anderson’s other sci-fi included Doc Savage: Man of Bronze (1975), produced by George Pal (director of the 1960 film The Time Machine), and an adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, a 1980 NBC miniseries starring Rock Hudson.

His directorial résumé also includes the Ireland-set Shake Hands With the Devil (1959), starring James Cagney; The Naked Edge (1961), with Gary Cooper (in his final film) and Deborah Kerr; the melodrama All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960), starring real-life husband and wife Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood; the Tony Curtis poodle comedy Wild and Wonderful (1964); Pope Joan (1972), starring Liv Ullmann; Dino De Laurentiis’ Jaws ripoff Orca (1977); and his final credit, The New Adventures of Pinocchio (1999).

Two of his sons followed him into show business: character actor Michael Anderson Jr. played the brother of John Wayne and Dean Martin in The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) and Doc in Logan’s Run.

David Anderson served as an assistant director on three James Bond films

On May 17, a newly restored version of The Dam Busters will be presented in 4K live from the Royal Albert Hall in London and simulcast into 400 U.K. theaters to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Royal Air Force’s daring WWII operation on which the film is based.