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On This Day In Film

32 years ago the horror film Poltergeist was released. In 2001, the film was placed at 84th in AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills proving it to be one of the scariest films in American cinema. The movie was written and produced by Steven Spielberg, but as Spielberg was contractually bound by Universal Studios and E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (released just a week later) the directorial duties were passed over to Tobe Hooper. It has been suggested that Spielberg had 'some' influence on the directing of the film but it is Hooper that was given the directing credit.

Steven Spielberg is famous for his directing, but he has produced a large number of films aswell. However, Spielberg has only got writing credits for six feature films (not including any amateur films he might have written) including Poltergeist - here they are:

Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies (1973)

This adventure-comedy film was directed by John Erman, stars Cliff Robertson and Pamela Franklin and Spielberg is given the credit of writing the story. I must admit that I only heard of this film due to my research. Has anyone seen it? Is it any good? Would love to hear more about it as I am a little clueless!

The Sugarland Express (1974)

This film was directed and co-written by Spielberg and starred Goldie Hawn in one of her earlier films. This film is, reportedly, the first film that Spielberg and composer John Williams worked together on, the beginning of a long-lasting relationship. Williams has composed every feature film that Spielberg has directed since except for The Color Purple, together producing some of the best film moments American cinema has seen and heard.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

This movie was directed and written by Spielberg and is one of his most famous movies of the 70s. In the AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills 2001 list, the film features at number 31. The story was one of Spielberg's early ideas and can be traced back to his youth, it also has some links with an early film written by Spielberg titled Firelight (1964). Close Encounters is one of Spielberg's classics.

The Goonies (1985)

The screenplay of this 80s children's classic was written by Christopher Colombus from a story written by Spielberg. Spielberg was also the executive producer on this film but it was directed by Richard Donner. The film is a favourite of mine and encapsulates the magic of 80s children's movies.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Spielberg wrote the screenplay for this movie and also produced and directed the film. The film began development in the 1970s with Stanley Kubrick, but found itself hindered by many factors including, reportedly, Kurick's need for more advanced CGI technology. In 1995, Kubrick handed the story to Spielberg but it didn't start production until after Kubrick's death in 1999. I would have loved to see the movie made by Kubrick, I wonder how it would have been different?

Poltergeist will always stay as one the most frightening films ever made and it's largely down to the work of Spielberg that it was ever made. He is one of the key figures of American cinema, not just as a director, but as a producer and in these cases, a writer.


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