Michael Winner

Biography

Michael Robert Winner (born 30 October 1935) is an English former film director and producer, who worked in Great Britain, Europe and the United States, now known as a food critic for the Sunday Times. Early life and early career Winner was born in London, England, the son of Helen (née Zloty) and George Joseph Winner (1910-1975), a company director. His family was Jewish; his mother was a native of Poland and his father was of Russian extraction. Winner's father was a Freemason. Following his fathers death Winner's mother gambled recklessly and sold art and furniture left to her only for life but to Michael thereafter, amounting to around £10m at the time. She died in a nursing home at the age of 78 in 1984. He was educated at St Christopher School, Letchworth and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied law and economics. He also edited the university's student newspaper, Varsity. Winner had earlier written a newspaper column, 'Michael Winner's Showbiz Gossip,' in the Kensington Post from the age of 14. The first issue of Showgirl Glamour Revue in 1955 has him writing another film and showbusiness gossip column, "Winner's World". Such jobs allowed him to meet and interview several leading film personalities, including James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich. He also wrote for the New Musical Express. He began his screen career as an assistant director of BBC television programmes, cinema shorts, and full-length "B" productions, occasionally writing screenplays. His first on-screen credit was earned as a writer for the 1958 crime film Man With a Gun, directed by Montgomery Tully. Winner's first credit on a cinema short was Associate Producer on the 1959 film Floating Fortress produced by Harold Baim. Winner's first project as a lead director involved another story he wrote, Shoot to Kill, in 1960. British films In the early 1960s, Winner's films followed fashion. His second project, Some Like It Cool (1961), is the tale of a young woman who introduces her prudish husband and in-laws to the joys of nudism. After releasing family drama Old Mac and a potboiler mystery called Out of the Shadow in 1961, Winner brushed with Gilbert and Sullivan, writing the screenplay and directing a version of The Mikado entitled The Cool Mikado (1962), starring Frankie Howerd which was produced by Harold Baim. It was preceded by the Billy Fury-led musical Play It Cool (1962) and comedy short Behave Yourself (1961). His first significant project was West 11 (1963), a realistic tale of London drifters starring Alfred Lynch. Winner's sex comedy The System (1964) began a partnership with actor Oliver Reed that would last for six films over a 25-year period. Winner and Reed closed out the 1960s as a pair with The Jokers (1967) (also starring Michael Crawford), popular comedy-drama I'll Never Forget What's'isname (1967), and the World War II satire Hannibal Brooks (1969). A non-Reed comedy, You Must Be Joking! (1965) with Denholm Elliott, and an ambitious Olympic drama, The Games, (1970) were also made. American films Hannibal Brooks drew notice in Hollywood and Winner soon received opportunities to direct for American markets. Winner's first American film was Lawman (1971) starring Burt Lancaster and Robert Duvall. The turning point came in 1972, as he first directed Marlon Brando in The Nightcomers, a prequel to The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, then made his earliest efforts with box office star Charles Bronson in Chato's Land, recounting a mixed race American Indian fighting with Whites, and The Mechanic, a thriller in which professional assassins are depicted. The following year, Winner booked Lancaster again for the espionage drama Scorpio and reprised Bronson in The Stone Killer, in collaboration with Dino de Laurentiis. In 1974, Winner and Bronson collaborated on Death Wish, a film that defined the subsequent careers of both men. Based on a novel by Brian Garfield and adapted to the screen by Wendell Mayes, Death Wish was originally planned for director Sidney Lumet under contract with United Artists. The commitment of Lumet to another film and UA's questioning of its subject matter led to an eventual production by Dino De Laurentiis through Paramount Pictures. Death Wish tracks Paul Kersey, a liberal New York architect who becomes a gun-wielding vigilante after his wife is murdered and daughter is raped. With a script adjusted to Bronson's persona, the film generated major controversy during its screenings and was one of the year's highest grossers. Following the release of Death Wish, Winner became primarily known as an action film director. Most of his attempts to branch into other genres failed at the box office. In 1975 Winner directed Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (released 1976), an animal comedy starring Bruce Dern, Madeline Kahn, Art Carney, and Milton Berle. Also of modest success was his horror film The Sentinel (1977), the remake of Raymond Chandler's novel The Big Sleep (1978), and the organized crime thriller Firepower (1979) with Sophia Loren.[citation needed] By the early 1980s, Winner found himself in great need of a successful film and accepted Charles Bronson's request to film Death Wish II, a sequel to the 1974 hit. Bronson had already signed a lucrative deal with Cannon Films, independent producer of exploitation fare and marginal art house titles. The sequel, co-starring Bronson's wife Jill Ireland, is considered a rehash of Death Wish with violence raised to more graphic levels. As with fellow British director J. Lee Thompson, Cannon Films became Winner's mainstay during the 1980s. His reputation was already on the decline before releasing two failures, a remake of The Wicked Lady (1983) with Faye Dunaway and the generic thriller Scream for Help (1984). Winner made a final splash, however, with Death Wish 3 in 1985, which was set in New York City but filmed mostly in London for budgetary reasons. Winner's output dissipated after Death Wish 3. He directed adaptations of the Alan Ayckbourn musical play A Chorus of Disapproval with Anthony Hopkins and the Agatha Christie novel Appointment with Death in 1988. After Cannon Films entered bankruptcy, Winner confined himself to British productions with the Michael Caine and Roger Moore farce Bullseye! (1990), Dirty Weekend (1993) starring Lia Williams, and Parting Shots (1999). Personal life Winner became engaged to Geraldine Lynton-Edwards in 2007. He stated "I have told Geraldine that it took me 72 years to get engaged so she's not to hold her breath for the marriage". However, Winner did marry Lynton-Edwards on 19 September 2011 at Chelsea Town Hall, London. He remains prominent in British life for other reasons, including his challenging dinner reviews, as well as his regular appearances on television, particularly in a series of advertisements that he directed for insurance firm esure. Winner has been writing for The Sunday Times for decades. His current column is called 'Winner's Dinners'. He has also been an occasional panellist on Have I Got News for You. Winner has been an active proponent of law enforcement issues and established the Police Memorial Trust after WPC Yvonne Fletcher was murdered in 1984. Thirty-six local memorials honouring police officers who died in the line of duty have been erected since 1985, beginning with Fletcher's in St. James's Square, London. The National Police Memorial, opposite St. James's Park at the junction of Horse Guards Road and The Mall, was also unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 26 April 2005. His autobiography Winner Takes All: A Life of Sorts was published by Robson Books in 2006. The book largely describes his experiences with many big screen actors. He has also written a dieting book, The Fat Pig Diet Book. In 2006, it emerged that Winner had been offered an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his part in campaigning for the Police Memorial Trust. Winner declined the honour, remarking "An OBE is what you get if you clean the toilets well at King's Cross Station." Winner has subsequently claimed on his Twitter page that he has also turned down a knighthood. Winner was an outspoken member of the Conservative Party and supporter of prime minister Margaret Thatcher, but changed his political support in favour of Tony Blair's New Labour at the 1997 general election. On 1 January 2007, Winner acquired the bacterial infection, Vibrio vulnificus from an oyster meal in Barbados. He almost had to have a leg amputated and was on the brink of death on several occasions. Before he fully recovered, Winner caught the "hospital superbug", MRSA. In September 2011, Winner was admitted to hospital with food poisoning after eating steak tartare, a raw meat dish, four days in a row. The dish is not recommended for those with a weakened immune system, and in retrospect Winner regarded his decision to eat it as "stupid". In February 2011, Victoria Coren accused Winner of bullying her and sending obscene tweets related to her breasts. Initially, she thought that his Twitter account had been hacked but this was not the case.[20][21] However, when she appeared on Have I Got News For You she said they were now friends after he took her out for lunch. In 2011, Winner married Geraldine Lynton-Edwards at Chelsea Old Town Hall, following a four-year engagement. They met in 1957 when he was a 21-year-old film-maker and she was a 16-year-old actress and ballet dancer. Michael and Shakira Caine were witnesses to the ceremony. Winner lives in the former home of painter Luke Fildes in Kensington, Woodland House, designed for Fildes by Richard Norman Shaw. Winner is an art collector, and is a connoisseur of British illustration. Winner's art collection includes works by Jan Micker, William James, Edmund Dulac, E. H. Shepard, Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen and Beatrix Potter. His collection once included almost 200 signed colour-washed illustrations by Donald McGill. It was announced in 2008 that Winner intended to leave his house as a museum, but discussions with Kensington and Chelsea council apparently stalled after they were unable to meet the £15 million cost of purchasing the freehold of the property, which expires in 2046. Filmography (from 1967 also producer) Shorts The Square (1956) This is Belgium (1956) Man with a Gun (1958) It's Magic (1958) Danger, Women at Work (1959) Floating Fortress (1959) (associate producer) Girls, Girls, Girls! (1961) (directed and written by) Haunted England (1961) Behave Yourself (1961) Feature films Shoot to Kill (1960) Some Like It Cool (1961) Old Mac (1961) Out of the Shadow (1961) Play it Cool (1962) The Cool Mikado (1962) West 11 (1963) The System (1964) You Must Be Joking! (1965) The Jokers (1967) I'll Never Forget What's'isname (1967) Hannibal Brooks (1969) The Games (1970) Lawman (1971) The Nightcomers (1972) Chato's Land (1972) The Mechanic (1972) Scorpio (1973) The Stone Killer (1973) Death Wish (1974) Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) The Sentinel (1977) The Big Sleep (1978) Firepower (1979) Death Wish II (1982) The Wicked Lady (1983) Scream for Help (1984) Death Wish 3 (1985) A Chorus of Disapproval (1988) Appointment With Death (1988) Bullseye! (1990) Dirty Weekend (1993) Parting Shots (1999) Bibliography Food writing Winner's Dinners: The Good, the Bad and the Unspeakable (1999) The Winner Guide to Dining and Whining (2002) The Harry's Bar Cookbook (2006, Arrigo Cipriani, foreword by Michael Winner) The Fat Pig Diet (2007) Winner's Dinners: The Restaurant & Hotel Guide (2009) Unbelievable!: My Life in Restaurants and Other Places (2010) Memoirs Winner Takes All: A Life of Sorts (2004) Tales I Never Told (2011) Miscellaneous Michael Winner's True Crimes (1992) Michael Winner's Hymie Joke Book (2012) Film criticism The Films of Michael Winner (1978, Bill Harding, foreword by Michael Winner)

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Known For
Movie Poster

The Diary of Jack the Ripper

Himself - Presenter

Movie Poster

Charles Bronson, Hollywood's Lone Wolf

Self - Director (archive footage)

Starring In
Movie Poster

Charles Bronson, Hollywood's Lone Wolf

Self - Director (archive footage)

Movie Poster

The Diary of Jack the Ripper

Himself - Presenter

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