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Fade Out: Peter Yates (1928–2011)

By  · Published on January 10th, 2011

Peter Yates, the greatest American filmmaker to ever be born in Britain and live there his whole life, died Sunday as the result of a prolonged illness.

Yates got his start as a feature director in the early 1960s and made the jump into a new era of filmmaking with Bullitt and Breaking Away coming in back to back years. The first, hitting theaters in 1968, is credited with inventing the cinematic car chase and remains one of the best examples of the element that’s now common place in most action movies.

The second is a completely different beast altogether; it’s the thoughtful coming of age story that captures Americana and teenage life better than most American directors could.

He was nominated for four Oscars, sure, but Yates will most likely be remembered for his sheer versatility. The man directed both Mother, Jugs and Speed and Krull. He directed crime films like The Friends of Eddie Coyle and heartfelt personal dramas like The Dresser.

In short, the man could tackle just about any story (whether set in rural America or on a distant planet) and make it something special. He’ll be missed, but his legacy has already made a massive impact and will continue to do so.

What’s your favorite Yates film?

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