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The Guardian (03/Sep/2002) - Director J Lee Thompson dies at 88

(c) The Guardian (03/Sep/2002)

Director J Lee Thompson dies at 88

The veteran British film director J Lee Thompson has died at the age of 88.

Thompson, who died of heart failure at his summer home in Canada over the weekend, had worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood and directed film classics such as Cape Fear, Ice Cold in Alex and the Guns of Navarone.

Born in Bristol in 1914, his early adult life was spent as a bantam weight boxer and a B-29 tail gunner during the Second World War. His first job in the film industry was as an editing assistant in Elstree Studios and then as a dialogue coach on a number of Alfred Hitchcock films. His directing debut came in 1950 with the crime thriller Murder Without Crime.

It was his 1958 wartime epic Ice Cold in Alex which propelled him into the big league and he moved to America in the early 60s soon after The Guns of Navarone, which starred Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn, was nominated for six Academy Awards. In the US he worked with Peck again on Cape Fear in 1964 and in the early 70s turned his hand to two Planet of the Apes sequels, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

In the late 70s and 80s he collaborated with Charles Bronson on nine films, including St Ives, Murphey's Law and The Evil That Men Do, with Robert Mitchum on The Ambassador and with a young Sharon Stone in King Solomon's Mines. His last film was a Bronson film, Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, in 1989.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years Penny Thompson.