Director Steven Spielberg turns 70

Spielberg won the Academy Award for Best Director for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.

steven-spielbergHe’s Steven Spielberg, for crying out loud, one of the most consequential movie directors and producers of all time, and certainly of the past half-century. I was fascinated to see all the work he’s done in the 21st century that I have NOT seen.

Early on, Spielberg also directed episodes of TV shows that I watched, often religiously, such as Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law; Columbo; The Name of the Game; Night Gallery; and Marcus Welby, M.D., all in 1969-1971, but since I didn’t KNOW it was Spielberg, I’ll pass on those.

1968 Amblin’ (director of the Short) – I saw this well after Steven Spielberg became successful. Not much happens here. A couple of hitchhikers, no dialogue. But it’s from whence he named his productions from Amblin Entertainment

1974 The Sugarland Express (story, director) – This I also saw much later, much more fully realized
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind (written by, director) – I saw this in at least two different iterations; not sure the expanded version is better, but I was very fond of the original

1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark (director); 1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (director) – no, I never saw the second film. I think I liked the third film more than the first in some ways because the Sean Connery character made Indiana more real
1981 Continental Divide (executive producer) – I recall this John Belushi/Blair Brown comedy was savaged at the time, but I liked it, and current critics seemed to warm to it
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (producer/director) – I loved the suburban kid angst, and just about everything about the movie until the bike scene at the end, which I found sappy
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie (producer, director of segment 2) – saw this movie in Binghamton, NY
1985 Back to the Future 1989 Back to the Future Part II 1990 Back to the Future Part III (executive producer of all) – I should write about all of these, but liked the 1st, was depressed by that tricky middle act and thought the western motif in the 3rd was a hoot
1985 The Color Purple (producer/director) – a lot of good things, and its flaws were minor compared with the angst over a white guy directing this. Is this still the movie with the most Oscar nominations that won zero awards?

1986 The Money Pit (executive producer) – enjoyable enough, I think, but I don’t remember it well
1986 An American Tail (executive producer) – I was taken by the story
1985-1987 Amazing Stories (TV Series) (executive producer – 45 episodes, director – two episodes) – watched fairly regularly. As anthologies go, uneven, but worthwhile
1987 Empire of the Sun (producer/director) – I fell asleep in the movie theater; not necessarily a reflection on the film, just my fatigue
1988 Who Framed Roger Rabbit (executive producer) – I loved that movie, but have not seen it since
1989 Always (producer/director) – it has Audrey Hepburn in her final role, and that’s enough for me

1991 Cape Fear (executive producer – uncredited) – never saw the original, but this was tension-inducing
1991 Hook (director) – somehow left me cold
1993 Jurassic Park (director) – one of the very few “popcorn movies” I’ve actually seen, and good for its genre
1993 Schindler’s List (producer/director) – profoundly moving. I think the two people I saw it with and I talked ABOUT it longer than the 195 minutes running time. Not sure that I ever want to see it AGAIN, but glad I saw it in the theater. It also engendered certain activism within Steven Spielberg to tell more Holocaust stories.
1993-1998 Animaniacs (TV Series) (executive producer – 99 episodes) – loved the self-referential schtick. a lot
1995-1998 Pinky and the Brain (TV Series) (executive producer – 60 episodes) – I lOVED this show. Probably didn’t find it until the second season

1996 Twister (executive producer) – serviceable film
1997 Men in Black 2002 Men in Black II (executive producer in both; actor – Alien on TV Monitor (uncredited) in 1st) – I surprisingly really enjoyed the first film, as it was very funny; the sequel I could have done without
1997 Amistad (producer/director) – a fascinating topic, important subject, I found the pacing rather slow, yet, by the end, I enjoyed it quite a bit
1998 Deep Impact (executive producer) – even within the genre, this seemed to be a preposterous story, told melodramatically

2001 Shrek (executive producer – uncredited) – I found it fun
2002 Catch Me If You Can (producer/director) – I liked this a lot, from the graphics to the characters well played by worldly Leo DiCaprio being pursued and hangdog Tom Hanks
2012 Lincoln (producer/director) – I know a lot of people thought this was a boring movie. I did not.

Steven Spielberg “won the Academy Award for Best Director for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, as well as receiving five other nominations… The unadjusted gross of all Spielberg-directed films exceeds $9 billion worldwide, making him the highest-grossing director in history… In 1987 he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his work as a creative producer.” Here’s his 2006 induction for the Kennedy Center Honors.