×

Steven Spielberg Remembers ‘Friend and Early Mentor’ Stanley Donen

As news of the death of prolific director Stanley Donen spread Saturday, the industry was quick to remember the helmer of so many classic musicals.

Donen directed such hits as “Singin’ in the Rain,” co-directed with and starring Gene Kelly; “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn; and “Charade,” with Hepburn and Cary Grant.

Stanley Donen was a friend and an early mentor,” wrote Steven Spielberg in a statement. “His generosity in giving over so many of his weekends in the late 60’s to film students like me to learn about telling stories and placing lenses and directing actors is a time I will never forget. He co-directed what some consider the greatest Hollywood musical of all time ‘Singing In the Rain’ but when he left his partnership with Gene Kelly to go it alone he made his most compelling movies in multiple genres. ‘Charade,’ ‘Bedazzled’ and ‘Two For the Road’ were my favorites. When visiting New York I will miss not bumping into him on his daily walks and hear him talking about life and film which for Stanley were inseparable.”

Guillermo del Toro called Donen “a brilliant storyteller – elegant, exuberant, a master of color and top crane choreographer…We are indebted to him for as long as there is Cinema.”

Director Edgar Wright wrote that it was “some feat to have multiple classics in both musicals, but also comedies, thrillers, dramas.”

Mitzi Gaynor commended Donen for “a life well lived.” “What an incredible gift he was to the movies — Singin’ in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the list of classics is endless, like his talent.”

Christopher McQuarrie kept it short: “Stanley Donen understood when to move and when to let others do the moving.”

TCM host Ben Mankiewicz shared a story from a Q&A with Donen in 2012. “Stanley Donen was a singular talent in every way,” he tweeted.

TCM host Alicia Malone thanked the helmer for making “some of the most magical movies (that will forever be favorites of mine)” alongside a gif of Hepburn in “Funny Face.”

The Criterion Collection tweeted that “everything magical about Hollywood’s golden age is in Stanley Donen’s movies…They’re models of grace and engines of pure pleasure.”

The Film Society of Lincoln Center tweeted “R.I.P.” along one of the most famous shots from “Singin’ in the Rain.”

The British Film Institute wrote that they are thinking of the director today, who “leave behind a string of glorious musicals.”

The Tribeca Film Festival also remembered Donen, calling “Singin’ in the Rain” “one of the dreamiest and most dazzling masterpieces ever made” and shared a quote from Donen. “No matter the genre, his films contained everything we could ever possibly want from cinema,” the festival wrote.

This story will continue to be updated as more reactions roll in.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Aaron Janus Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Hires 'A Quiet Place' Producer Aaron Janus as Senior VP of Production

    Lionsgate has hired Aaron Janus as its new senior vice president of production and promoted Meredith Wieck to the post of vice president of production.  Prior to Lionsgate, Janus served as Platinum Dunes’ head of development, where he oversaw filmmakers Brad Fuller, Andrew Form and Michael Bane. There, he brought in “A Quiet Place,” on [...]

  • Ang Lee Reveals First Look at

    Ang Lee on 'Gemini Man' and De-Aging Will Smith

    On paper, Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” is a standard-issue, shoot ’em up with Will Smith playing a deadly assassin who must battle a younger clone of himself. The explosions and gun battles aren’t what drew Lee to the project, even if they’re the reason that most people will show up at theaters when it opens [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Sean Clarke Aardman Staff Photography Bristol.Pic

    Aardman Appoints Sean Clarke as New Managing Director

    Aardman, the Oscar-winning animation studio behind “Chicken Run” and “Early Man,” has appointed Sean Clarke as its new managing director, replacing co-founder David Sproxton, who is stepping down after 43 years. Clarke has worked at the British studio for more than 20 years, including heading the international rights and marketing department for over a decade. [...]

  • The Antenna

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Antenna'

    Jump scares, creepy noises and the tease of hidden-from-view dangers are all fine. But a truly frightening horror film unsettles with more than its crafts, but instead through the vulnerability of defenseless people stuck with bad options only. First-time writer-director Orçun Behram’s highly stylized and mildly disturbing “The Antenna,” a metaphor on Turkey’s current ruling [...]

  • Ad Astra Box Office

    Box Office Battle: 'Ad Astra' Takes on 'Rambo: Last Blood' and 'Downton Abbey'

    “Hustlers” and “Good Boys” proved that even in the age of Marvel dominance and remake mania, movies that don’t exist within an established franchise can still be box office draws. Can “Ad Astra” continue that trend? The space drama — starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray — arrives on the big screen this [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks

    Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks Silence After D.A. Dropped Charge

    Lucia Evans gave a wrenching account on Tuesday of her efforts to hold Harvey Weinstein responsible for sexual assault, saying she felt betrayed after the Manhattan D.A.’s office dropped her allegations last year. Evans spoke to Variety after giving a speech at a conference on influencer fraud in Manhattan, making her first public comments on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content