Obituary: Director Richard Fleischer

Director Richard Fleischer, who helmed such classic films as 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, has died of natural causes in Los Angeles. He was 89.

Fleischer was the son of animator Max Fleischer, the chief rival of Walt Disney, so it was ironic that Fleischer should have directed Disney's 1954 live-action film version of Jules Verne's novel, about a mysterious Captain Nemo and his undersea vessel, the Nautilus.

Fleischer was not a genre specialist; he made many different kinds of movies, including the exellent noir thriller THE NARROW MARGIN and the adventurous THE VIKINGS, with Kirk Douglas. However, he did deliver a handful of memorable fantasy and science-fiction films, FANTASTIC VOYAGE, SOYLENT GREEN, and DR. DOOLITTLE. CONAN THE DESTROYER should the sort of enjoyable action verbe missing from its ponderous predecessor, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, and even RED SONYA (although sadly lacking in some area) was redeemed by Fleischer's deft handling of the action elements.

Ironically, the American Cinematheque in Hollywood had presented a tribute to Fleishcer work merely a week ago. It's nice to know he lived long enough to see that his films would go on to be appreciated by future generations.