He directed L.A. Confidential, almost universally regarded as one of the best American films of the 1990s. He made a popular thriller in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, one of the better chick-lit adaptations ever in In Her Shoes, and introduced Eminem while humanizing him for a mass audience in 8 Mile.
Curtis Hanson enjoyed a directing career that spanned five decades, from the early 1970s to the 2010s, and included 13 feature films and an Academy Award in 1997 for co-writing L.A. Confidential. Hanson earned a reputation for his versatility in directing in a wide variety of genres, for his particular skill with literary adaptations, and for his outstanding knack of staging shots and blocking scenes.
Hanson died Tuesday at the age of 71 of natural causes, The Wrap reported. Born in 1945 in Reno, Nevada, Hanson worked as an editor for Cinema magazine as a young man. He began his directing career in the 1970s, first by co-writing the Lovecraft adaptation The Dunwich Horror and then directing the Roger Corman-produced, Tab Hunter-starring B-movie Sweet Kill in 1973. In 1980 Hanson directed the kid’s karate film The Little Dragons, and followed that up with the seminal 1983 comedy Losin’ It, with Tom Cruise and Shelley Long.
Hanson’s 1990s started with the yuppie thriller Bad Influence, with Rob Lowe and James Spader, followed by 1992’s highly popular thriller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, which was part of that era’s spate of “[blank] from hell” movies, in that case Rebecca De Mornay’s “nanny from hell.” Next came 1994’s Kevin Bacon adventure The River Wild.
But Hanson’s most creatively successful period began in 1997 with L.A. Confidential, a virtually perfect 1950s-set crime noir film that starred Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce and, in his first major dramatic role, Russell Crowe. The film, a rare successful screen adaptation of James Ellroy’s fiction, earned nine Oscar nominations and won two – Hanson and co-scribe Brian Helgeland for the screenplay and Kim Basinger for Best Supporting Actress.
After that came Wonder Boys, this time adapting Michael Chabon. The movie about a college professor in crisis sported one of Michael Douglas’ better late-career performances, plus an unlikely affair between the future Spider-Man and Iron Man (Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey, Jr.). The huge hit 8 Mile followed in 2002, as well as In Her Shoes, a fantastic adaptation of Jennifer Weiner’s novel, in 2005.
In his later years, Hanson directed Lucky You, the lackluster 2007 gambling drama with Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana; he also directed the HBO adaptation of Andrew Ross Sorkin’s financial crisis book Too Big to Fail in 2011. His final project as director was the surfing film Chasing Mavericks, which he co-directed with Michael Apted; Apted stepped in mid-film when Hanson had to undergo heart surgery.
R.I.P. Curtis Hanson: March 24, 1945 – September 20, 2016
Source: The Wrap