Born in Tehran in 1941, the son of a Swiss geologist and a German physician, Barbet Schroeder worked as a film critic with the influential French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma and assisted New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard on the 1962 film Les Carabiniers before releasing his opera prima in 1969: More. You may have been one of the 1.78 million American television viewers who saw his most recent directorial outing: a season three episode of Mad Men, "The Grown-Ups", which aired in 2009. To mark his 72nd birthday, take a look back at Schroeder’s long and successful career in celluloid.
Schroeder’s psychedelic directorial debut told the story of a couple addicted to heroin on the island of Ibiza, starring the adorable Mimsy Farmer and featuring a soundtrack written and performed by Pink Floyd.
La Vallée (1972)
In 1972, Bulle Ogier made a splash in Luis Buñuel’s masterpiece The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Less known is her other appearance that same year in Schroeder’s La Vallée, in which she plays the wife of the French consul in Melbourne. She goes into the New Guinea bush searching for the feathers of a rare exotic bird and ends up…(wait for it)…discovering herself. Pink Floyd was enlisted again to provide a soundtrack, which they recorded as the album Obscured by Clouds. Footage from the film was later incorporated in the 1980 horror film Hell of the Living Dead.
Talk about a labor of love. Schroeder commissioned the original screenplay of Barfly—in which Mickey Rourke plays of Henry Chinaski, the perpetually drunk and down-and-out alter ego of poet Charles Bukowski—and then, as Roger Ebert reported, "spent eight years trying to get it made." Ebert noted that the director even "threatened to cut off his fingers if Cannon Group president Menahem Golan did not finance it." Thankfully for Mickey Rourke fans—and Schroeder’s own digits—Golan did.
Reversal of Fortune (1990)
Jeremy Irons won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actor for his chilling portrayal of Claus von Bülow, the German-Danish socialite who was acquitted of murdering his wife, Sunny (played by Glenn Close). Schroeder was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.
Single White Female (1992)
Ever since Jennifer Jason Leigh’s psychotic turn as Bridget Fonda’s new roommate suffering from Dependent Personality Disorder in Single White Female, looking for potential living partners through the want ads has been tinged with a wee bit of fear.
Kiss of Death (1995)
While David Caruso nabbed a Razzie Award nom for "Worst New Star" for his head-scratching turn as an ex-con trying to lead the straight life with his family in Queens, a muscle-bound Nicolas Cage (sporting a super-coiffed yet oddly sinister goattee) delivered the bizarro goods as a local crime boss/homicidal maniac. The Washington Post‘s Hal Hinson wrote that Cage "dominates the camera, stealing scenes by the sheer intensity of his inimitable strangeness."