Richard Lester

By Neil Sinyard

Richard Lester

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-6756-3
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: July 2010
  • BIC Category: Film and Media, Individual film directors, film-makers, Film scripts & screenplays, Film history, theory & criticism, PERFORMING ARTS / Individual Director, PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / Direction & Production, The arts / Individual film directors, film-makers, The arts / Film scripts & screenplays
  • Series: British Film-Makers


Richard Lester is of the most significant yet misunderstood directors of the post-war era. Indelibly associated with the Beatles and the 'swinging Sixties' because of his direction of A Hard Day's Night and Help and his joyous sex comedy The Knack, Lester has tended to be categorised as a modish director whose heyday passed when that decade's optimism slid into disillusionment and violence.

This book offers a critical appreciation and reappraisal of his work, arguing that it had much greater depth and variety than he has been given credit for. His versatility encompasses the Brechtian anti-heroics of How I Won the War; the surreal nuclear comedy of The Bed-Sitting Room and the swashbuckling adventure of The Musketeers films. He has even, in his instinctively iconoclastic manner, cut Superman down to size.

The book should win new admirers for a director with a gift of making movies whose visual wit and imaginative imagery reveal an intelligent and enquiring scepticism about heroes and society. Including comments from Lester himself and illustrations from his own private collection, the book is a must for film scholars and enthusiasts alike.


List of plates
Introduction: oblique moments
1. Learning the craft
*The Running, Jumping & Standing Still Film* (1959);
*It's Trad, Dad* (1962);
*The Mouse on the Moon* (1963)
2. Swingin' sixties
*A Hard Day's Night* (1964);
*The Knack* (1965);
*Help!* (1965)
3. Comedy tonight, tragedy tomorrow
*A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum* (1966)
4. Trilogy of disillusionment
*How I Won the War* (1967);
*Petulia* (1968);
*The Bed-Sitting Room* (1969)
5. All for one and every man for himself
*The Three Musketeers* (1973);
*The Four Musketeers* (1974)
6. Holding the country to ransom
*Juggernaut* (1974)
7. Fame and misfortune
*Royal Flash* (1975);
*Robin and Marian* (1976);
*Butch and Sundance: The Early Days* (1978)
8. Mixed bathing
*The Ritz* (1976)
9. Romance and revolution
*Cuba* (1979)
10. Men and supermen
*Superman II* (1981); *Superman III* (1983)
11. Last orders
*Finders Keepers* (1984);
*The Return of the Musketeers* (1989);
*Get Back* (1991)
12. Conclusion


Neil Sinyard is Professor and Head of Film Studies at the University of Hull, UK

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