Norman Jewison, director of 'Fiddler on the Roof' and 'Moonstruck', dies aged 97

But throughout his life Mr. Jewison was repeatedly drawn to more serious fare in films like “FIST” (1978), a labor-union drama starring Sylvester Stallone; “In the Country” (1989), about the daughter of a Vietnam War victim; and his last film, “The Statement” (2003), the story of a former Nazi collaborator, starring Michael Caine.

In the post-Civil Rights era, Mr. Jewison was interested in race, especially racial injustice. In 1984, he directed “A Soldier's Story,” an adaptation of Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Soldier's Play,” set on an army base in Louisiana during World War II. The film was critically acclaimed and Mr. Jewison received another Best Picture nomination.

But a few years later, a movie about the life of Malcolm X, Mr. When it was announced that Jewison would be directing, he was met with opposition. Filmmaker Spike Lee, who had long wanted to make such a film himself, was the most outspoken critic of the choice, saying a white director could not do justice to the story of a major black political activist.

Mr. Jewison eventually left the project, although he denied that he left in response to the protests. “Malcolm X” released in 1992 Mr. Directed by Lee, then Mr. Jewison said, “I'm glad I directed the film.”

In 1999, Mr. Jewison directed the film “The Hurricane,” about Rubin Carter, an African-American boxer whose life was cut short by a murder charge and who spent nearly 20 years in prison before the charges against him were dismissed. Denzel Washington (who had one of his first film roles in “A Soldier's Story” and also starred in “Malcolm X”) was nominated for an Oscar for the lead role (Stephen Holden of The Times called it “amazing”). But Mr. The film was criticized by many for taking liberties in depicting Carter's life and legal struggles.

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