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Oscar-Winning Director Milos Forman Dies at 86

Oscar-Winning Director Milos Forman Dies at 86
From TIME - April 14, 2018

(LOS ANGELES)Czech filmmaker Milos Forman, whose American movies One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Amadeus won a deluge of Academy Awards, including best director Oscars, died Saturday. He was 86.

Forman died about 2 a.m. Saturday at Danbury Hospital, near his home in Warren, Connecticut, according to a statement released by the former directors agent, Dennis Aspland. Aspland said Formans wife, Martina, notified him of the death.

When Forman arrived in Hollywood in the late 1960s, he was lacking in both money and English skills, but carried a portfolio of Czechoslovakian films much admired internationally for their quirky, lighthearted spirit. Among them were Black Peter, Loves of a Blonde and The Firemans Ball.

The orphan of Nazi Holocaust victims, Forman had abandoned his homeland after communist troops invaded in 1968 and crushed a brief period of political and artistic freedom known as the Prague Spring.

In America, his record as a Czech filmmaker was enough to gain him entree to Hollywoods studios, but his early suggestions for film projects were quickly rejected. Among them were an adaptation of Franz Kafkas novel Amerika and a comedy starring entertainer Jimmy Durante as a wealthy bear hunter in Czechoslovakia.

After his first U.S. film, 1971s Taking Off, flopped, Forman didnt get a chance to direct a major feature again for years. He occupied himself during part of that time by covering the decathlon at the 1972 Olympics for the documentary Visions of Eight.

Taking Off, an amusing look at generational differences in a changing America, had won praise from critics who compared it favorably to Formans Czech films. But without any big-name stars it quickly tanked at the box office.

Actor Michael Douglas gave Forman a second chance, hiring him to direct One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, which Douglas was co-producing.

The 1975 film, based on Ken Keseys novel about a misfit who leads mental institution inmates in a revolt against authority, captured every major Oscar at that years Academy Awards, the first film to do so since 1934s It Happened One Night.

The winners included Jack Nicholson as lead actor, Louise Fletcher as lead actress, screenwriters Bo Goldman and Lawrence Hauben, Forman as director and the film itself for best picture.

The director, who worked meticulously, spending months with screenwriters and overseeing every aspect of production, didnt release another film until 1979s Hair.

The musical, about rebellious 1960s-era American youth, appealed to a director who had witnessed his own share of youthful rebellion against communist repression in Czechoslovakia. But by the time it came out, Americas brief period of student revolt had long since faded, and the public wasnt interested.

Ragtime followed in 1981. The adaptation of E.L. Doctorows novel, notable for Formans ability to persuade his aging Connecticut neighbor Jimmy Cagney to end 20 years of retirement and play the corrupt police commissioner, also was a disappointment.

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