TORONTO — Clive Donner, the British helmer heralded for encapsulating the Swinging ’60s of London in pics like “What’s New Pussycat?” and “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” died Sept. 7 in London. He was 84 and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for some years.
Sex farce “What’s New Pussycat” broke away from the conventional cinema at the time. Peter Sellers starred as a crazy psychiatrist alongside Peter O’Toole’s sex-obsessed fashion editor. Pic, a huge box office success at the time and Donner’s first Hollywood project, also starred Ursula Andress and Woody Allen, who penned the script. Crooner Tom Jones famously sang the Burt Bacharach-Hal David title song for the pic.
His next venture, “Luv,” starring Jack Lemmon fizzled but “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” based on the debut tome from journo Hunter Davis, went on to achieve critical success.
The helmer was often credited for spearheading the British New Wave and helped launch the careers of thesps such as Ian McKellen and Alan Bates.
Donner began his career at Pinewood studios, where he directed a slew of low-budget pics, before helming a feature adaptation of Harold Pinter’s play “The Caretaker,” which went on to screen at the Berlin Intl. Film Festival before hitting London screens.
His 1964 pic “Nothing But the Best,” starring Bates and Millicent Martin, a black comedy dissecting the Brit class system, depicted the ’60s ambience.
In 1974, he directed stage play “Kennedy’s Children,” by Robert Patrick, at a pub in north London, which transferred to the West End and Broadway.
Donner also achieved success on the smallscreen through a variety of television commercials and programs including a BBC adaptation of Jeffrey Archer’s “Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less” in 1989.
His wife, costume designer Jocelyn Rickards, died in 2005. He leaves no immediate survivors.