Bob Rafelson was one of the names that allowed Hollywood to reinvent itself in the face of the studio crisis of the late ’60s and early ’70s. And he bequeathed a couple of undisputed classics that marked an era. But, above all things, he was a central figure of that New Hollywood, which he endowed with his volcanic gaze. With the death of the director, which occurred at the age of 89 in Aspen, Colorado -confirmed by his last wife Gabrielle Turek- the director of films that had a notorious impact such as My life is my life (Five Easy Pieces, 1970), The postman rings twice (1981) blood and wine (nineteen ninety six). Most of his filmography is nourished in addition to the leading role of the great Jack Nicholson, who was also a personal friend of the director.
But just like with My life is my life, also Sand castles (1972) years stay hungry (1976) meant a crude approximation to the family universe in crisis. Rafelson also dedicated himself to investigating crime films and, no less a fact in his career, musical films. It was precisely in this genre that his career began in 1968 with the television series the monkeysabout the rival group of the Beatles, whose event was transferred to the big screen with Headwhich meant his film debut and for which he had Jack Nicholson collaborating on the script. In 1983, Rafelson will return to the world of music directing the clip of Lionel Richie All Night Long.
But while his greatest success as a director was the Oscar-nominated My life is my lifeRafelson’s career will also be crowned by having been the producer of some of the films that changed the face of Hollywood such as I look for my destiny (Easy Rider, 1969) by Dennis Hopper, which he financed with Monkees money, or The last movie (The Ultimate Picture Show1971) by Peter Bogdanovich, and even loaned $300,000 so that Jean Eustache could make The mother and the whore (1973). After all, he admired French cinema and, in particular, the Nouvelle Vague, whose influence was mentioned in relation to much of his work, although he had trained at the Columbia Screen Gems.
Rafelson was in Argentina invited by the Mar del Plata International Film Festival in 2004, where he received the festival’s tribute at the Auditorium theater together with the Argentine Héctor Olivera. “With Jack we work together so many times that sign language is enough for us to understand each other. Seeing each other interact is the same as witnessing a class for the deaf and dumb. But every time he finishes filming with me, he swears it’s the last time”, he said about the actor to whom he gave his first big role on the big screen and with whom he collaborated eight times. Rafelson was also responsible for the film debut of Sally Field, Jeff Bridges and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but his fetish was the great Nicholson, about whom he said: “It’s wonderful to direct him because one can punish him”, in those Mar del Plata days .
The New York-born filmmaker was also responsible for black widow (Black Widow), with Debra Winger and Theresa Russell; mountains of the moon (Mountains of the Moon, 1990) about the expeditionary Richard Burton and no good deed (2002), with Samuel L. Jackson. But the industry had changed and his independent profile prevented him from making new productions.
He made a few cameos in films by filmmaker friends like goodbye to vegasby Mike Figgis, but more for fun and memories of a cinema that brought him world fame but never even an Oscar nomination for Best Director (for My life is my life was nominated for his work as a screenwriter). In those days of cinema and beach he also said: “I have no memory to answer the past and the more daring your questions are, the happier I am going to be. Take advantage of being in the dark.”