No one but the geekiest of geeks are likely to know this prolific director by name. He’s not a superstar whose reputation can sell a movie. He has helmed many successful films, but never a runaway blockbuster. None of them are classics, none ever won an Oscar (or were even nominated for one). None will ever be lovingly remastered or restored by Criterion for a multi-disc Special Edition. There’s never been a Peter Hyams film festival or college course focusing on his body of work, nor will any be forthcoming
But if you’ve been around awhile, chances are you have seen and thoroughly-enjoyed at least one of his movies (probably more than one) on cable or DVD. None are high-art, but a lot of them are really fun, fast and very clever (some written by Hyams himself, making him a bit more than a director-for-hire).
Here’s also worked with a lot of Hollywood icons: Elliot Gould, Michael Douglas, Sean Connery, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, Billy Crystal, to name a few.
In researching Hyams’ career, I was fairly surprised to learn he was once a CBS News anchorman, and was also a good-enough jazz drummer to play with the likes of Maynard Ferguson. Impressive, but hardly a resume likely to parlay into a lucrative life as a filmmaker.
But it is his long, productive (though woefully-unappreciated) directorial career which deserves more attention than it gets. No one will ever confuse Hyams with Hitchcock or Spielberg, and yeah, the guy has made some crappy movies, but even Spielberg screwed the pooch on several occasions. When you look back at Peter Hyams’ entire filmography, he directed a surprising number of really good films for someone hardly anyone's ever heard of. For example...
|"That's it...I'm switching to Direct TV."|
|The Star Chamber...one of the few movies from the 80s |
where Michael Douglas keeps his pants on.
|"We're gonna need a MUCH bigger boat..."|
|"I always wanted to ask...did you do all your|
own driving in The French Connection?"
|"EEEEW," said every guy who ever watched this scene.|
|Always clean and chlorinate your pool on a|
regular basis, otherwise...
Like any other filmmaker, Peter Hyams directed numerous movies of dubious quality throughout his career (Hanover Street, Stay Tuned, The Presidio, End of Days, etc), and hasn’t made a watchable film in a long time. However, he was responsible for a slew of solid popcorn flicks that are smart, quirky, funny, suspenseful and entertaining (we may not recall the titles, but we do remember how fun they are).
It would be a shame if we were to forget him.