Director Bob Clark and his son were killed last night when an allegedly drunk driver crossed into the wrong lane and smashed into the Clark car.
I interviewed Clark several years ago and after the interview we exchanged some calls on (as I recollect) a story idea I had. In the way of Hwood it went nowhere. He struck me as a decent modest man very serious and enthusiastic about working as a writer and director in film.
"A Christmas Story" was his greatest popular work. By now it's as much of a holiday staple as "It's A Wonderful Life." I actually prefer the Clark pick to Capra one. Far less treacle. In fact very little treacle.
I was told that Clark would never discuss how much his "Black Christmas" influenced John Carpenter's "Halloween." A number of critics did, however, and from time to time the fan blogs bring up the subject. I see the influences for sure but Carptener took them and made them his own. My sense is that Clark likely felt the same way and was decent enough not to keep the subject alive. (On the other hand, I didn't really know him at all so maybe he became psychotic when the subject came up and decided to save himself the rage by refusing to speak to it.)
My favorite Sherlock Holmes film (and here I know I'll find several hundred thousand people eager to disagree with me) is Clark's "Murder By Decree," whch Pauline Kael (I think it was) dismissed as "pornographic violence." Which struck me as odd given her defense of Sam Peckinpah. But how can you do a picture about Jack The Ripper and not resort to savage violence? Jack London spent time in Whitechapel (ultimately having a breakdown) and if you read his pieces on it (the squalor, the poverty, the endlss street violence) you'll see that Clark's version is quite restrained.
So long, Bob. I'm doubly sorry that the drunken driver (as an alcoholic I have to be careful of hypocrisy here--I spent a lot of nights behind the wheel when I should have been bound and gagged in the trunk)--I'm sorry that a drunken driver took not only yourlife but your son's as well.