Hollywood has an assembly of film directors who are an expert in their specialized fields. Some excel in Sci Fi, others do their best when handling action, however the recently departed Richard Donner was in a league of his own. He could make a switch between genres and excel in each one of them, delighting his fans and contemporaries at the same time. His biggest break came through a horror flick, after which he tried his hand at Sci Fi, which was followed by a film for children, as well as countless action flicks and a time travel movie. Now that's what we call diversity ...
The Omen - Horror
At the time he was making The Omen, Richard Donner was in his late 40s, had made a name as a TV director who was associated with big TV shows as well as advertisements. However, he wanted to make it big as a film director and that's why chose to ride on the success of The Exorcist. He chose The Omen as his next project which revolved around a young boy who was the antichrist and made life hell for his adopted parents. With Gregory Peck playing the father, The Omen was received well at the box office, and as many as two feature-length sequels and a remake followed it. Richard Donner had nothing to do with the sequels (except Omen III: The Final Conflict, where he was the executive producer) because he decided to 'fly high' after his first major success at 46!
Superman The Movie - Science Fiction
At 48, and with one of the biggest hits of the previous year to his credit, Richard Donner decided to do something that no one was able to do before him. He chose to bring the iconic Superman to the big screen, who was till now a TV character who appeared in TV shows and animated series. With Christopher Reeve's selection as Superman, and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, he has a winning combination but he went one step further and made it an irresistible one. Getting the legendary Marlon Brando to play Jor El, and Gene Hackman to play Lex Luthor was something no one else would have been able to do. He also involved The Godfather writer Mario Puzo in the screenwriting process, which shaped up everything nicely. He used all his experience with TV and commercials to make the audience believe that a man can fly, and gave the future filmmakers a pattern as to how to make a Superhero flick. Although he was sacked from the second Superman movie for not bowing down to the producers, he released his own version in 2006 as Superman 2: The Richard Donner Cut!
The Goonies - Kids
Before there was Home Alone, Chris Columbus was popular as the man who wrote The Goonies, Richard Donner's genre swapping film for children. Released in the 1980s when kids used to hang out, and adventure was always on their minds, this film gave them the power to imagine. Every kid who has grown in the 80s and the 90s has seen The Goonies, which is a testament to Richard Donner's ability to give the best to every genre. It is a pity he didn't continue making more films for the kids, for he was himself a kid at heart and everyone including producer of The Goonies Steven Spielberg said so!
Lethal Weapon - Action
The 1980s was the decade when Buddy Cop films became a rage, but no one dared to partner a psycho cop with a senior citizen before Lethal Weapon, Richard Donner's most successful franchise as a director. With Mel Gibson and Danny Glover playing the main lead, the film spawned as many as three sequels and all of them featured Riggs-Murtaugh wreaking havoc yet defeating the bad guys in the end using their unconventional methods. The 91-year old director was most comfortable with action flicks after the original Lethal Weapon, and was working on a sequel of this flick when he died.
Timeline - Time Travel
Making a time travel movie was always like walking on thin ice, one wrong move and you might end up on the wrong side. However, for Richard Donner, it was a piece of cake even at the age of 73. Released four years after Micheal Crichton's novel was published, the movie featured a fresh cast and an intriguing storyline that might have ended on the wrong side of history had it not been handled delicately. Richard Donner used his wizardry to make the film appear interesting, and it helped the careers of all those involved immensely.