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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.”

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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.

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