Helmed '60s landmark 'Georgy Girl'
Silvio Narizzano, a Canadian-born film and TV director with wide-ranging credits but best known for his 1966 romantic comedy “Georgy Girl,” starring Lynn Redgrave and James Mason, died July 26 in London. He was 84.
Set in swinging London, the sexually frank “Georgy Girl,” which also starred Charlotte Rampling and Alan Bates, drew four Oscar nominations, including best actress (Redgrave), supporting actor (Mason) and cinematography. The film, which earned Narizzano a nomination at the Berlin Film Festival, was the director’s second.
Narizzano was born to Italian-Americans in Montreal. After graduating from Bishop’s U. in Sherbrooke, Quebec, he joined Montreal’s Mountain Playhouse, where he was influenced by Joy Thompson, a leader in English-language theater in the province.
At the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., he was an assistant to Norman Jewison, Arthur Hiller and Ted Kotcheff. In the early 1950s he produced episodes of “Ford Television Theatre,” “Tales of Adventure” and “Encounter” at the network.
In 1956 Narizzano co-directed “Approach to Theatre,” a documentary short that profiled Tyrone Guthrie, a key founder of Canada’s Stratford Theater Festival.
Thereafter he began directing and producing mostly in the U.K., though he did helm an adaptation of Graham Greene’s “The Fallen Idol” for CBS’ “The DuPont Show of the Month.” He directed the Brit telepic “Doomsday for Dyson,” written by J.B. Priestley, and multiple episodes of “ITV Television Playhouse” and “ITV Play of the Week.” He also directed several episodes each of “Saki,” “Paris 1900” and “Zero One.”
In 1965 Narizzano made his feature helming debut with Hammer horror film “Die! Die! My Darling,” famously Tallulah Bankhead’s last movie.
He followed 1966’s “Georgy Girl” with the 1968 romantic Western “Blue,” starring Terence Stamp, and 1972 black comedy “Loot,” an adaptation of the Joe Orton play. He returned to Canada for 1977’s “Why Shoot the Teacher,” the story of a teacher (Bud Cort) working in a one-room schoolhouse during the Depression.
The same year he helmed a prestigious TV adaptation of “Come Back, Little Sheba,” starring Laurence Olivier and Joanne Woodward.
A 1980 adaptation of Paul Scott’s novel “Staying On,” which starred Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson and aired on PBS’ “Great Performances” the following year, drew critical huzzahs, but Narizzano’s features of the period, “The Class of Miss MacMichael,”
“Bloodbath” and “Choices,” were considerably less successful in every respect.
After helming the 1984 Agatha Christie adaptation “The Body in the Library” for the BBC, Narizzano worked little for years; his lifelong problem with depression was exacerbated by the 1983 death of his partner, the writer Win Wells.
He is survived by two sisters and a brother.