Richard Pryor + Director of '2001' Precursor 'Gog' & Brazilian Cinema Novo Producer Have Died

Richard Pryor Stir Crazy Gene Wilder. Sidney Poitier directed blockbuster 1980 comedyRichard Pryor in Stir Crazy with Gene Wilder. Directed by Best Actor Oscar winner Sidney Poitier (Lilies of the Field, 1963), the 1980 blockbuster comedy Stir Crazy marked the second pairing of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor following Arthur Hiller's 1976 box office hit Silver Streak, which also featured Jill Clayburgh and a runaway train.

Richard Pryor dead at 65: Troubled comedian starred in box office hits 'Silver Streak' & 'Stir Crazy'

Dec. 2005 news: Actor Richard Pryor died today, Dec. 11, of a heart attack at a Los Angeles hospital. Pryor (born on Dec. 1, 1940, in Peoria, Illinois) was 65.

One of the most popular Hollywood comedians during the second half of the 1970s and at the start of the 1980s, Pryor's box office hits included Arthur Hiller's Silver Streak (1976) and Sidney Poitier's Stir Crazy (1980), both action comedies costarring Gene Wilder (who, notably, dons blackface in the former title).

The comedian was also known for his popular “stand-up” movies, chiefly, Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979), Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982), and Richard Pryor… Here and Now (1983).

More Richard Pryor movies

Among the other Richard Pryor movies of the late 1970s were:

  • Michael Schultz's urban comedy Car Wash (1976), featuring a mostly black cast, ranging from veteran Clarence Muse (Safe in Hell, Prestige) to The Pointer Sisters.
  • Schultz's Which Way Is Up? (1977), a remake of Lina Wertmüller's The Seduction of Mimi, with Richard Pryor in the old Giancarlo Giannini role – in addition to two other characters.
  • Herbert Ross' California Suite (1978), with Pryor featured opposite Bill Cosby in the weakest segment of the omnibus, all-star comedy-drama also featuring Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Michael Caine, Elaine May, Walter Matthau, and eventual Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Maggie Smith.
  • Sidney Lumet's The Wiz (1978), a $24 million-budgeted (approx. $77 million in 2005), all-black remake of Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz – and a major box office bomb. In the cast: Diana Ross in the old Judy Garland role; Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow; and Lena Horne as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. Richard Pryor had the title role (Frank Morgan in the 1939 original).
  • Gary Weis' Wholly Moses! (1980), a Biblical spoof along the lines of Monty Python's Life of Brian, starring Dudley Moore as an ancient, unwitting (false) prophet. Pryor was cast as the Pharaoh.

Richard Pryor in the 1980s: Drug-induced personal crisis & professional downfall

Richard Pryor's film career took a tumble in the early 1980s, following a near-fatal, cocaine-induced suicide attempt during the making of Stir Crazy – a professional situation not helped by the box office disappointments Bustin' Loose (1981), Some Kind of Hero (1982), and Superman III (1983), starring Christopher Reeve.

The two successful exceptions during that period were Richard Donner's The Toy (1983), with Jackie Gleason, and Walter Hill's Brewster's Millions (1985), with John Candy.

Richard Pryor Jo Jo Dancer Your Life Is Calling Paula Kelly: Semiautobiographical dramaRichard Pryor in Jo Jo Dancer Your Life Is Calling, with Paula Kelly. Columbia Pictures, which distributed several of Richard Pryor's biggest box office hits – e.g., Stir Crazy, The Toy, See No Evil Hear No Evil – also backed Jo Jo Dancer Your Life Is Calling, a semi-autobiographical drama along the lines of Federico Fellini's and Bob Fosse's All That Jazz. In the film, Richard Pryor plays the title character and his alter ego – a stand-up comedian dealing with fame, troubled relationships, and drug addiction.

'Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling' & end of stardom

Richard Pryor's drug problems were depicted in the semi-autobiographical -like drama Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986), a commercial disappointment that he also co-wrote, directed, produced.

By that time, Pryor's career had taken a marked downturn. Both of his two post-1985 bona fide box office hits came out in 1989:

  • Eddie Murphy's period crime comedy Harlem Nights (1988), which, however successful ($95 million in the U.S. and Canada), was seen as a star vehicle for multitasker Murphy, at the time at the peak of his fame.
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil, which reunited Richard Pryor with Gene Wilder and their Silver Streak director Arthur Hiller. Even so, See No Evil, Hear No Evil grossed $46.9 million at the domestic box office – or less than half the amount collected by Stir Crazy ($101 million) and, despite higher ticket prices, less than Silver Streak ($51.1 million) as well.

In the last 15 years, Richard Pryor made only sporadic film appearances. He was last seen in David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997), toplining Bill Pullman and Patricia Arquette.

Gog Richard Egan Constance Dowling: 2001 A Space Odyssey precursorGog with Richard Egan and Constance Dowling. Little-remembered filmmaker Herbert L. Strock directed the 3D thriller Gog – a 2001: A Space Odyssey precursor about the dangers posed by supercomputers and artificial intelligence. One difference from Stanley Kubrick's classic sci-fier: Gog's eerily smart computer is named NOVAC.

'Gog' & 'I Was a Teenage Frankenstein' director Herbert L. Strock dies

Film and television multitasker – chiefly director and producer – Herbert L. Strock died of heart failure following a car accident in Riverside, a community northeast of Los Angeles, on Nov. 30. He was 87.

Strock's directorial television credits include a number of episodes from the series I Led 3 Lives, Science Fiction Theatre, Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, and 77 Sunset Strip, among others.

Among his feature films as a director, almost invariably B horror productions, are the following:

  • The Korean War drama Battle Taxi (1955), with Sterling Hayden at odds with Arthur Franz over the use of helicopters in rescue missions.
  • I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957), with Gary Conway in the title role and Whit Bissell (Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk of the 1960s TV series The Time Tunnel) as Prof. Frankenstein.
  • The Hollywood-set How to Make a Monster (1958), with Gary Conway and Gary Clarke as actors playing, respectively, a teen Frankenstein and a teen werewolf. Following hypnosis – courtesy of the just sacked nice-but-nuts studio make-up artist Robert H. Harris – both young performers start believing themselves to be the characters they should be incarnating only on screen.
  • The Crawling Hand (1963), about a dead astronaut's hand with a penchant for strangling the living. Peter Breck and veteran Kent Taylor (Five Came Back, Four Girls in White) star.

'Gog': '2001: A Space Odyssey' precursor

Herbert L. Strock also directed the relatively prestigious sci-fier Gog (1954). Produced by Ivan Tors*, the 3D-filmed Gog revolves around the threat posed by artificial intelligence – akin to what's found in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey: a deadly supercomputer named NOVAC takes over an underground space research base in New Mexico, where he is assisted by two A.I. henchmen with rhyming Biblical names, Gog and Magog.

In the Gog cast: Richard Egan, Constance Dowling in her final big-screen appearance (she would become Ivan Tors' wife from 1955–her death in 1969), and former Bette Davis leading man Herbert Marshall (The Letter, The Little Foxes).

Herbert L. Strock-Ivan Tors collaborations

* Other director Herbert L. Strock-producer Ivan Tors collaborations include the aforementioned Battle Taxi and, on television, Strock's Science Fiction Theatre and Sea Hunt efforts.

An uncredited Strock also reportedly helped in the direction of a couple of Ivan Tors productions of the mid-1950s, The Magnetic Monster (1953) – which, like Gog, features a supercomputer, the MANIAC – and Riders to the Stars (1954).

Black God White Devil Geraldo Del Rey. Jarbas Barbosa produced Cinema Novo classicBlack God White Devil with Geraldo Del Rey. Jarbas Barbosa produced several Cinema Novo entries during the 1960s, most notably the classics Ganga Zumba and The Guns. Barbosa was also an associate producer on another Cinema Novo landmark, Glauber Rocha's Black God White Devil.

Pioneering Cinema Novo producer Jarbas Barbosa dies

Jarbas Barbosa, a pioneering producer of Brazil's neorealism- and nouvelle vague-influenced Cinema Novo, died of respiratory problems on Dec. 10 in the city of Recife, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. Barbosa was 76.

Among the Cinema Novo releases Jarbas Barbosa produced or co-produced are:

  • Nelson Pereira dos Santos' drama Boca de Ouro / The Golden Mouth (1963), with Jece Valadão as the titular gangster, who, via conflicting flashbacks à la Rashomon, is remembered by his former lover (Odete Lara).
  • Carlos Diegues' Cinema Novo classic Ganga Zumba (1963), based on João Felício dos Santos' novel about the titular real-life, African-born runaway slave (Antonio Pitanga; billed as Antonio L. Sampaio), who founded and ruled over the huge “outlaw” ex-slave community Quilombo dos Palmares in Brazil's Northeast. (Ganga Zumba was actually shot in Brazil's Southeast, in both the interior of the state of Rio de Janeiro and in the city proper.)

'The Guns'

Another Jarbas Barbosa-produced Cinema Novo classic was Ruy Guerra's two-pronged sociopolitical drama The Guns / Os Fuzis (1964), once again set in Brazil's Northeast – far away from Guerra's originally planned locale, Greece.

After his vehicle breaks down, a truck driver (Átila Iório) gets stuck in a drought-stricken small town in Bahia, where heavily armed soldiers have been brought over to protect the mayor's store from the area's starved hordes. Meanwhile, a Christian “holy man” urges local peasants to follow a “sacred ox” in order to bring an end to the devastating drought. It all ends in tragedy.

Also in the 1960s, Barbosa was an assistant producer on Glauber Rocha's Cinema Novo classic Black God, White Devil / Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (lit., “God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun,” 1964), the story of a ranch hand turned rural bandit (Geraldo Del Rey) in the Brazilian Northeast.

Lowbrow sex & kiddie comedies

Following Carlos Diegues' political drama The Inheritors / Os Herdeiros (1970), starring Sérgio Cardoso and Odete Lara, Jarbas Barbosa began focusing on mass-appeal lowbrow comedies geared either at sex comedy fans or little children and the like-minded.

His most notable effort during this period was Diegues' wildly popular erotic comedy Xica da Silva (1976), starring Zezé Motta as the titular slave – one with a knack for giving mind-blowing blow jobs.

Jarbas Barbosa's brother, Abelardo Barbosa, was a well-known television personality known as Chacrinha. Abelardo died of a heart attack in 1988.

The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros Nathan Lopez J.R. Valentin. Asian Festival of 1st FilmsThe Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros with Nathan Lopez and J.R. Valentin. Written by Michiko Yamamoto and directed by Auraeus Solito, the 2005 Asian Festival of 1st Films' Best Film winner chronicles the unusual friendship that develops between Maximo Oliveros, a 12-year-old boy (Nathan Lopez) from Manila's wrong side of the tracks and with a fondness for cross-dressing, and a handsome policeman (J.R. Valentin) who happens to be investigating the boy's criminal family.

Asian Festival of 1st Films Awards: Winners & nominations

Best Film
* Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros / The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (The Philippines), Auraeus Solito.

Best Director
* Electric Shadows (China), Xiao Jiang.

Best Film & Best Director Nominees
Finger and Body (Japan), Kei Horie.
Kaazhcha (India), Blessy Ipe Thomas.
Dreaming Lhasa (India / U.K.), Ritu Sarin / Tenzing Sonam.
Yahaan (India), Shoojit Sircar.
Puteri Gunung Ledang / A Legendary Love (Malaysia), Saw Teong Hin.
Dragon Eye Congee - A Dream of Love (Taiwan), Kuo-fu Chang.

Best Documentary
Diminishing Memories (Singapore), Eng Yee Peng.
Feeding on the Dead (India), Sandeep Singh.
* I for India (U.K.), Sandhya Suri.
Jump! Boys (Taiwan), Lin Yu Hsien.

Best Documentary Director
Jump! Boys (Taiwan), Lin Yu Hsien.
Becoming (Hong Kong), Duc Luu.
My Country My Talk (Bangladesh), Farid Shah.
* Dear Pyongyang (Japan), Yonghi Yang.

Honorable Mention – Documentary
Jump! Boys (Taiwan), Lin Yu Hsien.
Diminishing Memories (Singapore), Eng Yee Peng.

Best Actor
* Pak Pak Pakaak (India), Saksham Kulkarni.
The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (The Philippines), Nathan Lopez.
Kaazhcha (India), Yash.

Best Actress
* Murder Unveiled (Canada), Anita Majumdar.
Dragon Eye Congee - A Dream of Love (Taiwan), Shin Yin.
Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (India), Chitrangada Singh.
Unarmed Combat (Singapore), Marilyn Lee.
Yahaan (India), Minnisha Lamba.

Best Screenplay
Kaazhcha (India), Blessy Ipe Thomas.
Dragon Eye Congee - A Dream of Love (Taiwan), Chienwei Chen.
* Mandheling (Hong Kong), Brenda Tong.
Dreaming Lhasa (India / U.K.), Ritu Sarin / Tenzing Sonam.

Best Producer
* A Legendary Love (Malaysia), Tiara Jacquelina.
Black Friday (India), Arindam Mitra.
Dragon Eye Congee - A Dream of Love (Taiwan), Hsu-ru You.
The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (The Philippines), Raymond Lee.

Best Cinematographer
* Chameli (India), Aseem Bajaj.
Dragon Eye Congee - A Dream of Love (Taiwan), Shenfeng Chiang.


Asian Festival of 1st Films website.

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor Stir Crazy image: Columbia Pictures.

Paula Kelly and Richard Pryor Jo Jo Dancer Your Life Is Calling image: Columbia Pictures

Richard Egan and Constance Dowling Gog image: Ivan Tors Productions / United Artists.

Geraldo Del Rey Black God White Devil image: Copacabana Filmes.

J.R. Valentin and Nathan Lopez The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros image: UFO Pictures / Cinemalaya.

“Richard Pryor + Director of 2001 Precursor Gog & Brazilian Cinema Novo Producer Have Died” last updated in February 2018.

Richard Pryor + Director of '2001' Precursor 'Gog' & Brazilian Cinema Novo Producer Have Died © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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