Anthony Harvey, who received an Oscar nomination for directing The Lion in Winter, the 1968 historical drama that starred Katharine Hepburn, Peter O’Toole and, in his movie debut, Anthony Hopkins, has died. He was 87.
Harvey died on Thanksgiving Day at his Water Mill home in Southampton, New York, radio host and former actor Walker Vreeland confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. The two had an engaging conversation in December 2014.
Before he was a director, Harvey was a film editor and collaborated with Stanley Kubrick on Lolita (1962) and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). The London native also cut the Cold War classic The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965), directed by Martin Ritt.
Harvey also directed such films as They Might Be Giants (1971), with George C. Scott as a man who thinks he’s Sherlock Holmes; Players (1979), starring Ali MacGraw and set in the world of pro tennis; and two features toplined by Liv Ullmann, The Abdication (1974) and Richard’s Things (1980).
His directorial debut came on Dutchman (1966), a New York subway-set drama that starred Shirley Knight and Al Freeman Jr. Then came Lion in Winter. O’Toole, who portrayed Henry II in the film, was impressed by Dutchman, brought it to Hepburn’s attention and pushed for Harvey to guide the adaptation of the James Goldman play.
Harvey then reteamed with Hepburn on a 1973 telefilm version of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie and for her final leading role, in the 1984 feature Grace Quigley.
“As much as I absolutely worshipped her work, I sometimes thought she rather overdid it,” Harvey said.
His father died young, and he was raised by Morris Harvey, an actor and writer. When he was 14, he played Vivien Leigh’s brother in Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) and noted that he was “looked after” by Claude Rains during the production. He then won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
The first film Harvey edited was the war comedy Private’s Progress (1956), featuring Richard Attenborough and Terry-Thomas.
He said he dialed up Kubrick out of the blue and asked if they could work together.
“Every moment I spent with him, I never learned so much about movies,” Harvey told Vreeland. “He said that when you have a close-up and you have two wonderful actors, don’t go backward and forward, leave the actor that was marvelous and stay on that shot. It’s a much better way of putting a film together.
“We had a great friendship. He used to sack me every now and then and say, ‘Go home and don’t come back!’ But the next day, [it was] ‘Hello, Tony, how are you?’ It was a sort of joke. Because I was quite determined to put my stuff that I cut on the movie.
“He said that I was becoming more impossible than Peter Sellers. He said, ‘You’d better hurry up and direct, then you won’t be so annoying in the cutting rooms.'”
Harvey didn’t win an Oscar for his work on Lion in Winter, but he was handed a trophy at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion when he accepted on behalf of Hepburn, who, as was her custom, skipped the ceremony. Hepburn and Funny Girl star Barbra Streisand shared the best actress honor that year, the most famous tie in Academy Award history.
“I remember a dreadful thing,” Harvey said. “When we went to the podium, Ms. Streisand was ahead of me, and we went up four or five steps to get to the stage and by mistake I stood on her dress and it ripped. By the time we got to our places, I’m standing next to [presenter] Ingrid Bergman and all we could see was the back and her behind. We started to get absolutely hysterical.”