'Hard Day's Night', 'Superman II' Director Richard Lester Gets BFI Fellowship

6:09 AM PST 03/26/2012 by Stuart Kemp
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The British Film Institute presents its highest accolade to the helmer of The Beatles' iconic screen debut, as well as two "Superman" movies.

LONDON -- Director Richard Lester has been presented with a British Film Institute Fellowship.

His accolade, the highest the BFI dishes out, followed a screening of Lester’s Robin and Marian, starring Audrey Hepburn and Sean Connery at BFI Southbank and was presented by the organization's chairman, Greg Dyke.

The BFI Fellowship is awarded by the BFI Board of Governors to honor outstanding achievement in film and television. Previous recipients include Ralph Fiennes, David Cronenberg, Judi Dench, Isabelle Huppert and Martin Scorsese.

Lester is perhaps best known for his ground-breaking films with The Beatles, namely A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965). He also took over directing duties for Superman II after Richard Donner was removed from the sequel, and then went on to helm Superman III.

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His quirky, surrealist humor is considered a key influence on the members of the Monty Python comedy troupe.

Born in the USA in 1932, Lester came to England in 1956, having become a television director at the age of 20 and has remained a resident in the U.K. ever since.

Key to Lester's creative output was his working relationship with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, seen in the television series A Show Called Fred (ITV, 1956), the 11-minute short The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film (1959) and the savagely absurdist The Bed-Sitting Room (1969), adapted from the play by Milligan and John Antrobus.

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