Alan Parker - Director

Nationality: English. Born: Islington, London, 14 February 1944. Family: Married Annie Inglis, 1966; four children. Career: Mailboy, later writer and director, for advertising industry, London, from mid-1960s; with producer Alan Marshall, set up Alan Parker Film Company to make advertisements, 1970; directed The Evacuees for TV, and first feature, Bugsy Malone , 1975; founding member and vice-chairman, Directors Guild of Great Britain, and member, British Screen Advisory Council; directed The Turnip Head's Guide to British Cinema for Thames TV, 1986; signed deal with Tri-Star Pictures, 1989; also cartoonist and novelist. Awards: British Academy Award for Best Screenplay, for Bugsy Malone , 1984; Special Jury Prize, Cannes Festival, for Birdy , 1984; Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cinema (with Alan Marshall), 1984; BAFTA Award for Best Director, for The Commitments , 1991. Agent: c/o Judy Scott-Fox, William Morris Agency, Inc., 151 El Camino Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A. Address: Lives in Richmond, Surrey, and Los Angeles.

Films as Director:


Footsteps (short) (+ sc); Our Cissy (short) (+ sc)


Bugsy Malone (+ sc)


Midnight Express




Shoot the Moon


Pink Floyd—The Wall




Angel Heart (+ sc)


Mississippi Burning


Come See the Paradise (+ sc)


The Commitments (+ role as record producer)


The Road to Wellville (+ pr, sc)


Evita (+ pr, sc)


Angela's Ashes (+ pr, sc)

Other Films:


Melody (sc)


By PARKER: books—

Bugsy Malone , London, 1976.

Puddles in the Rain , London, 1977.

Hares in the Gate (cartoons), London, 1983.

A Filmmaker's Diary , London, 1984.

In the Lap of the Gods and the Hands of the Beatles , St. Louis, 1990.

The Making of Evita , London, 1998.

By PARKER: articles—

Interviews in Time Out (London), 23 July 1976 and 11 August 1978.

Interviews in Focus on Film (London), April 1980.

Interview in Cinema (London), August 1982.

"Alan Parker on Pink Floyd—The Wall ," in American Cinematographer (Los Angeles), October 1982.

Cartoons, in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1983.

"Britain's Angry Young Man," an interview with A. Horton, in Cineaste (New York), vol. 15, no. 2, 1986.

Interview in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), vol. 15, no. 3, 1987.

"The Making of Angel Heart ," in Films and Filming (London), September and October 1987.

"Dialogue on Film: Alan Parker," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), January-February 1988.

Interview in American Film (Washington, D.C.), September 1990.

"Paradise Lost: Production of the Motion Picture Come See the Paradise ," in Premiere , January 1991.

Film Dope (Nottingham), April 1994.

"Cereal Thriller," an interview with Brian Case, in Time Out (London), 11 January 1995.

Alan Parker
Alan Parker

Interview with Barry Norman, in Radio Times (London), 28 January 1995.

"An Iconic Evita ," an interview with Stephen Pizzello, in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), January 1997.

"The Thoughts of Chairman Alan," an interview with Nick James, in Sight and Sound (London), November 1997.

On PARKER: articles—

Roddick, Nick, "Alan Parker: From Bugsy to Birdy," in Cinema Papers (Melbourne), July 1985.

Houston, Penelope, "Parker, Attenborough, Anderson," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1986.

Smith, Gavin, "Mississippi Gambler: Alan Parker Rides Again," in Film Criticism (Meadville, Pennsylvania), vol. 24, no. 6, 1988.

Stam, H., "Het ernstige onderwerp en het grote publiek," in Skoop , April 1989.

"Alan Parker," in Film a Doba , January 1990.

Zimmer, J., "Alan Parker," in Revue du Cinema , July-August 1990.

Apted, M., "One on One: Michael Apted and Alan Parker," in American Film , September 1990.

Kirk, P., "Working for High Standards," in Boxoffice , January 1991.

Chase, D., "Alan Parker," in Millimeter , February 1991.

Lally, K., "Director Parker Makes Hearty Commitments ," in Film Journal , August 1991.

Dibbell, J., "Straight outta Dublin," in Village Voice , August 20, 1991.

Fuller, Graham, article in Interview , August 1991.

Kauffmann, Stanley, article in New Republic , September 16, 1991.

Maslin, Janet, article in New York Times , October 28, 1994.

Denby, David, " The Road to Wellville ," in New York , November 14, 1994.

Benoliel, B., "Alan Parker," in Film Dope (Nottingham), April 1994.

Griffin, N., "Madonna Tangos with Evita ," in Newsweek , 16 December 1996.

Elder, S., "Musical Man," in New Yorker , 31 March 1997.

* * *

Of all his fellow graduates from the prolific British commercials school of the 1960s (Ridley and Tony Scott, Hugh Hudson, and others), Alan Parker appears to have made far and away the most successful complete transition to theatrical filmmaking. Which is not to say that his movies to date—from Bugsy Malone to Angela's Ashes —have all been wholly successful in either box-office terms, critical reception or, blissfully, both at the same time. However, what Parker has managed always to achieve, with admittedly varying degrees of success, is that elusive blend of strong story and elegant frame, a symbiosis that tends regularly to elude other directors schooled in (and too often hamstrung by) the purely visual.

Two themes could be said to dominate Parker's work: children and controversy. After an award-winning teleplay, The Evacuees , about the bittersweet plight of evacuated London children during World War II, he made his feature debut with Bugsy Malone , an ingenious gangster spoof substituting kids for adults and cream balls for bullets. It was energetic and surprisingly un-quaint, ingredients that also characterised his high-voltage Fame , centering on a group of ambitious students at the New York High School for the Performing Arts. In between, though, controversy had first raised its head in the form of Midnight Express , an ultimately reprehensible and unashamedly manipulative piece of docudrama, unhappily dignified by sheer technique, about the supposed fate of a young American jailed for drug offences in Turkey.

Later, after both Angel Heart , a labyrinthine Faustian tale which was briefly threatened with an American "X" rating, and Mississippi Burning , a powerful civil rights drama that was accused of blatant Hollywood-isation, Parker's unquenchable passion and his admitted preference for "the theatrical edge" have continued to be, rather unfairly, mistaken for a filmmaking arrogance that tends to help make him less than a darling to those critics whom he has always termed "the Sight & Sound mafia."

Shoot the Moon , Parker's most personal film about marital mishaps and muddled offspring, and Birdy , which seamlessly transposed novelist William Wharton's post-World War II traumas to a post-Vietnam setting, best demonstrate his theatrical style carefully crafted into (though never subsuming) strong content. Especially the latter, which deals with two emotionally damaged young men whose bond transcends the scars resulting in a message—common to much of Parker's work—that is joyously life-affirming.

In 1991 Parker released The Commitments , a film based on a novel by Irish writer Roddy Doyle. The film, which garnered mixed reviews, told the story of the efforts of a ragtag group of musicians with widely varied individual agendas and their efforts to launch a successful band. 1994's The Road to Wellville , meanwhile, despite an impressive cast headed by Anthony Hopkins, was a decidedly unsuccessful adaptation of T. Coraghessan Boyle's novel.

—Quentin Falk

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