Friends, I might have said it once or twice but it sure seems like 2020 is doing it’s level best to continuously kick us in the gut – especially in regards to the loss of those in the entertainment field. We are sad to pass along the news that it was announced earlier that Director Joel Schumacher has passed away today at the age of 80 years old. As I always believe that one should be open in their writing – I will admit that personally at times I was not the biggest fan of Schumacher’s films – this would mostly be with his two entries in the Batman film franchise. But in my eyes the absolute truth is that the late and great Joel Schumacher delivered some very fine and worthy films in his career, whether that be behind the camera as Director, penning the screenplay, or as costume designer. That is actually how Schumacher got his start in the industry, by working as a costume designer – beginning with Play It As It Lays in 1972, a film that starred Tuesday Welds and Anthony Perkins, before moving on to the likes of Woody Allen’s Sleeper the following year. His first chance at sitting in the Director’s chair would come about in ’74 with the made-for-TV film entitled Virginia Hill, a retelling of the relationship between Bugsy Siegel and his girlfriend, played by Harvey Keitel and Dyan Cannon. That TV movie was co-written by Schumacher in fact but in 1976 he wrote the screenplay for both Sparkle and Car Wash – before going on to write the adaptation of Broadway production of The Wiz in ’78.
In 1981 Joel Schumacher would direct The Incredible Shrinking Woman with Lily Tomlin, Charles Grodin, and Ned Beatty – a humorous twist to the science fiction horror elements of Richard Matheson’s 1956 novel The Shrinking Man. Schumacher would also write and direct the cult classic D.C. Cab before hitting it big by co-writing and directing 1985’s St. Elmo’s Fire and then two years later he would deliver one of the greatest vampire films of all time… The Lost Boys!
Schumacher went on to direct two of the music videos for INXS before directing Cousins in ’89 with Flatliners the following year, he went on to helm the quite moving Dying Young in 1991. It was two years later that he delivered one of my favorites from his filmography – the disturbing Falling Down starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall. It was after directing the adaptation of John Grisham’s The Client in 1994 that Schumacher was given the Director’s chair for Batman Forever – with Michael Keaton stepping down from the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne and being replaced by Val Kilmer. With a cast that included Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Chris O’Donnel, Drew Barrymore, Debi Mazar, and returning actors such as Michael Gough and Pat Hingle, this continuation of the Batman franchise saw a sort of return to the elements of the Batman ’66 series.
After the huge success of Batman Forever, Schumacher tackled another John Grisham adaptation with A Time to Kill before returning to the Batman franchise again with Batman & Robin. Joel Schumacher would go on to direct the likes of 8MM, Phone Booth, and 2004’s The Phantom of the Opera to name a few.
I do realize that 80 years old isn’t that bad of a run when all is said and done – and I am most definitely grateful for the amount of films that Schumacher has left behind as his legacy. We will as always dim the lights in the auditorium to mark his passing.