The films you should definitely check out by the late British director.

By Clark Collis
July 31, 2020 at 05:34 PM EDT
Credit: Everett Collection

It's hard to think of many directors who moved as deftly and frequently between genres as Alan Parker, who died Friday at 77. In honor of the late British filmmaker, here are our choices for five of his essential movies.

Bugsy Malone (1976)

Debut movies don't come much weirder, nor more wonderful, than Parker's, a gangster-musical-comedy with a cast of children. Songwriter Paul Williams provides the Oscar-nominated music, while Jodie Foster and Scott Baio provide the very cute lead performances.

Midnight Express (1978)

Parker took a hard turn with his second film, this Oliver Stone-written sort-of-based-on-real-events story about a young American (played by Brad Davis) who gets sent to a Turkish jail for attempting to smuggle drugs. The movie has its problematic aspects, particularly its depiction of Turkish people, but Parker's direction offers a masterclass in creating tension.

Angel Heart (1987)

Parker goes neo-noir with a side order of horror and a double helping of atmosphere. Mickey Rourke is New York private eye Harry Angel, tasked by Robert De Niro's mysterious Louis Cyphre to track down a missing singer.

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Starring Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, and Frances McDormand, this '60s-set tale of an investigation into the disappearance of three civil rights leaders was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

The Commitments (1991)

Parker would return to music-powered movies again and again with projects like 1980's Fame, 1982's Pink Floyd: The Wall, and his Madonna-starring 1996 adaptation of Evita. But it's hard to beat this comedy about young Dubliners forming quite possibly the world's whitest soul band.

Related content: