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George Armitage, a cult director of the 1970s whose career got a late boost with the 1997 crime comedy Grosse Pointe Blank, will be honored at this year’s Oldenburg Film Festival with a lifetime achievement award.
Armitage was one of the stable of directors who got his start making genre films for Roger Corman‘s New World Pictures but he never enjoyed the commercial or critical success of the best known of that group, which included Ron Howard, Joe Dante and Jonathan Demme.
Instead, he has remained an obscure cult favorite, beloved by a small but slavishly devoted fan base.
Armitage’s career was launched with the script to Gas – or How It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It, Corman’s penultimate film as a director. Armitage went on to direct the 1971 thriller Private Duty Nurses, the Blaxploitation feature Hit Man starring Bernie Casey and the 1976 action adventure drama Vigilante Force with Kris Kristofferson.
Armitage briefly shifted to the small screen, directing the 1979 TV movie Hot Rod before taking a 11-year hiatus from movie making. Armitage returned with Miami Blues, an adaptation of the Charles Willeford novel starring Alec Baldwin.
Some credit Miami Blues as the first in what became a wave of arty crime films of the 1990s, including such classics as Quentin Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction and Steven Soderbergh‘s Out of Sight. He followed up 7 years later with Grosse Pointe Blank, a crime comedy co-written by, and starring, John Cusack.
Armitage’s last film was the 2004 Elmore Leonard adaptation The Big Bounce starring Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman and Charlie Sheen. The film was extensively recut to achieve a PG-13 rating and was a box office flop.
Oldenburg will screen a retrospective of Armitage’s films at this year’s festival and the 72-year-old director will attend for the 2015 event, which runs Sept. 16-20.
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