The Wait Staff: Guess the six directors we describe here

By Bilge Ebiri
July 30, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Stanley Kubrick held off for 12 years. Terrence Malick took 20. And George Lucas’ return to directing with The Phantom Menace took a whopping 22 years. Name these other directors who took extended breaks, and the films on both sides of their creative divides.

1. Blacklisted in the ’50s, he didn’t follow up his John Garfield film noir until two decades later, with a Western starring Robert Redford as a lawman tracking a fugitive.

2. One of the best-known faces in the world when he made an anti-McCarthy satire, he didn’t direct for 10 years, finally returning with a sudsy comedy starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren.

3. After his bizarre thriller about a computer that rapes, inability to get projects off the ground kept him from the director’s chair for a decade. He reemerged with a potboiler about a serial killer.

4. He won a 1975 Oscar for his acting, but this Hollywood rebel couldn’t impress the Academy with this directorial effort, a Western comedy about a newly married desperado. Twelve years later, he tried again, while reprising one of his greatest roles.

5. He followed his critically acclaimed thriller about a mad movie director 14 years later with a critically reviled thriller about a troubled psychologist.

6. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist reportedly felt his third attempt at directing was a failure, so much so that he waited 18 years to try again, this time with an adaptation of his best-selling mystery.

ANSWERS 1. Abraham Polonsky, Force of Evil (1948), Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969) 2. Charlie Chaplin, A King in New York (1957), A Countess From Hong Kong (1967) 3. Donald Cammell, Demon Seed (1977), White of the Eye (1988) 4. Jack Nicholson, Goin’ South (1978), The Two Jakes (1990) 5. Richard Rush, The Stunt Man (1980), Color of Night (1994) 6. Norman Mailer, Maidstone (1970), Tough Guys Don’t Dance (1987)