Irvin Kershner, R.I.P.

irvin_kershner_YodaIrvin Kershner, director of perhaps the best of the STAR WARS films, passed away last Friday, November 27th, 2010. He was 87.

Kershner began as a documentary filmmaker, first for the U.S. government, then for the TV series CONFIDENTIAL FILE.  In 1958, he made his feature film debut with STAKEOUT ON DOPE STREET, a crime thriller he co-wrote with Andrew J. Fenady, backed by Roger Corman. Produced on a low budget,  it was sold for a nice profit to Warner Brothers for distribution.
With Fenaday as producer, Irvin Kershner would shoot multiple episodes of the Nick Adams starring Western THE REBEL.
Equally adept at drama and comedy, Kershner would direct films such as 1966’s A FINE MADNESS (starring Sean Connery), THE FLIM-FLAM MAN, and the Barbara Striesand starring UP THE SANDBOX (1972), which featured surreal fantasy sequences.
In 1978, Irvin Kershner directed the ESP/Horror thriller  THE EYES OF LAURA MARS, based on a screenplay by John Carpenter (HALLOWEEN).
George Lucas, who was a student of Kershner’s when he taught at the University of Southern California, chose him to direct the second STAR WARS film, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Irvin Kershner was able to give the film both a sense of continuity with the previous installment and a darker, more sophisticated visual touch. 
NeverSayNeverAgainKershner was reunited with star Sean Connery again on the non-series James Bond film NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983, an updated remake of THUNDERBALL.
In 1990 he directed ROBOCOP 2, an action-packed sequel to the original, quite competent but not as satisfying as the first in the series.
After directing an episode of SEAQUEST DSV (aka SEAQUEST 2032) in 1993, he retired from the film business.
Picking up the nickname “Kersh” during EMPIRE, Irvin Kershner was apparently a well-liked man among his fellow filmmakers, and certainly a memorable director for genre fans.

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