Alan Parker, British filmmaker of ‘Bugsy Malone,’ ‘Midnight Express,’ dead at 76

Alan Parker, the influential British filmmaker known for movies including “Bugsy Malone,” “Evita” and “Midnight Express” has died. He was 76.

Parker died Friday after a lengthy illness, the BBC reported.

Parker, a founding member of the Directors Guild of Great Britain and chairman of the U.K. Film Council, was knighted in 2002.

He directed many popular and influential movies including “Fame,” “Mississippi Burning,” “Angela’s Ashes,” and “The Commitments.” The last film he directed was “The Life of David Gale” in 2003.

He was nominated for an Oscar twice for best director but did not win. The eclectic choice of movies Parker helmed was a hallmark of his career.

“I started with ‘Bugsy Malone,’ which was like a ridiculous pragmatic exercise to try to get any kind of film done, and then I did ‘Midnight Express,‘” Parker told the British Film Institute in 2017. “And they were such opposite kinds of films that it sort of set me in a pattern of doing different things each time.”

Parker got his start directing by filming commercials. He was a prominent advertising copywriter before he changed careers and started directing films in the early 1970s.

“As I was first to make the transition from the world of commercials into feature films, I think I was extra sensitive to the criticism, that in some way we weren’t ‘legitimate’ — a bunch of vulgar salesmen selling a product with flimsy intellectual credentials,” Parker said in a 2017 interview. “So I stopped making commercials altogether in order to be taken seriously as a filmmaker.”

Survivors include his second wife Lisa Moran-Parker; four children; and seven grandchildren, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“I’ve lived a charmed life,” he said. “I’ve been in absolute control of my work, even though I work in a very difficult area of the Hollywood machine. They’ve not interfered with what I’ve done, and therefore if my films end up well or if they’re not liked, it’s no one’s fault but mine.”