Norman Jewison is a Canadian filmmaker who has made a significant impact on the world of cinema with his thought-provoking and socially conscious films.
Throughout his career, Jewison has tackled a wide range of issues and genres, from racial tension and social injustice to romantic comedy and musicals.
He has worked with some of the most acclaimed actors of his time and has been recognized with numerous awards and nominations.
Some of Jewison’s most acclaimed films include “In the Heat of the Night,” which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1968 and explored the issue of racism in the American South, and “A Soldier’s Story,” which examined the tensions between black and white soldiers during World War II.
He also directed the hit musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the classic romantic comedy “Moonstruck,” which won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Cher.
Best Norman Jewison Movies
Jewison’s films are known for their strong performances, memorable characters, and powerful social commentary.
He has always been committed to making films that challenge the status quo and explore important social issues, and his work continues to inspire and provoke audiences to this day.
1. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
In the Heat of the Night is a 1967 crime drama film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger.
The film follows Virgil Tibbs (Poitier), a black detective from Philadelphia who is asked to help investigate a murder in a small Mississippi town.
Tibbs encounters racism and hostility from the local police chief, Bill Gillespie (Steiger), but the two eventually develop a mutual respect as they work together to solve the crime.
In the Heat of the Night was a groundbreaking film for its time, as it tackled issues of racism and police brutality in a frank and powerful way.
The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Steiger, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
In the Heat of the Night remains a powerful and relevant film today, as it continues to speak to issues of race and social justice in America.
The film is a testament to Norman Jewison’s skill as a director, as well as the incredible performances of Poitier and Steiger, who bring a depth and complexity to their respective roles.
Overall, In the Heat of the Night is a must-see film for anyone interested in the history of American cinema and its impact on society.
2. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
“Fiddler on the Roof” is a 1971 American musical film directed by Norman Jewison and based on the 1964 Broadway musical of the same name.
The film is set in the early 20th century in the fictional village of Anatevka in Imperial Russia and tells the story of Tevye (Topol), a poor Jewish milkman, and his family.
The film explores the themes of tradition, family, and the changing social landscape of pre-revolutionary Russia.
Tevye struggles to maintain his traditional Jewish customs and values in the face of growing anti-Semitism and changing cultural norms.
He must also contend with his strong-willed daughters, who challenge the traditional arranged marriages that he has planned for them.
The film features several memorable songs, including “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” and “If I Were a Rich Man.” The musical numbers are integrated into the story and help to develop the characters and themes.
“Fiddler on the Roof” was a critical and commercial success, receiving eight Academy Award nominations and winning three, including Best Original Score.
The film has since become a beloved classic, with its themes of family, tradition, and resilience resonating with audiences of all ages.
3. The Hurricane (1999)
“The Hurricane” is a 1999 biographical sports drama film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Denzel Washington in the lead role.
The film tells the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a middleweight boxer who was wrongly convicted of murder and spent 20 years in prison before being exonerated.
The film follows Carter’s journey from his rise to fame as a professional boxer to his wrongful imprisonment and subsequent legal battles for his freedom.
It also explores his personal relationships and the impact of his wrongful conviction on his life and those around him.
“The Hurricane” is notable for its powerful performances, particularly that of Denzel Washington, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Rubin Carter.
The film is also praised for its powerful social commentary on race, justice, and the criminal justice system.
Upon its release, “The Hurricane” was a critical and commercial success, and has since become a beloved classic of the sports drama genre.
The film is often cited as an example of the power of the human spirit and the importance of perseverance in the face of injustice.
4. Other People’s Money (1991)
“Other People’s Money” is a comedy-drama film directed by Norman Jewison and released in 1991.
The film tells the story of a corporate raider named Lawrence Garfield (played by Danny DeVito), who sets his sights on a struggling family-owned business called New England Wire and Cable.
As Garfield moves to take control of the company, he clashes with Kate Sullivan (played by Penelope Ann Miller), a smart and ambitious lawyer who represents the company’s owner, Jorgy (played by Gregory Peck).
The film explores themes of greed, morality, and the impact of corporate takeovers on communities and individuals.
“Other People’s Money” is characterized by its sharp and witty dialogue, as well as its strong performances, particularly by Danny DeVito, who delivers a memorable and entertaining portrayal of Lawrence Garfield.
The film also features an impressive supporting cast, including Gregory Peck, Penelope Ann Miller, and Piper Laurie.
The film was a modest commercial success, and has since become a cult classic. It is regarded as a humorous and thought-provoking exploration of corporate culture and the ethics of capitalism, as well as a cautionary tale about the consequences of unchecked greed.
5. And Justice for All (1979)
“And Justice for All” is a 1979 legal drama film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Al Pacino, Jack Warden, and John Forsythe.
The film is a biting satire of the American justice system and a powerful indictment of its many flaws and shortcomings.
The story follows Arthur Kirkland (played by Pacino), an idealistic young lawyer who is forced to defend a judge (played by Forsythe) accused of rape.
Kirkland soon discovers that the justice system is rigged against him and that his client is guilty, but he is torn between his duty to defend his client and his own sense of justice.
The film is a gripping and intense portrayal of the corrupt and often dysfunctional nature of the legal system.
Pacino gives a standout performance as Kirkland, bringing depth and nuance to his complex character. The film also features excellent supporting performances from Warden and Forsythe.
In addition to its searing indictment of the justice system, “And Justice for All” is also a character study of a man struggling to maintain his integrity in the face of overwhelming pressure and adversity.
It is a powerful and thought-provoking film that continues to resonate with audiences today.
Overall, “And Justice for All” is a must-watch for fans of legal dramas and anyone interested in exploring the flaws and complexities of the American justice system.
It is a timeless classic that remains relevant and important more than 40 years after its release.
6. Moonstruck (1987)
“Moonstruck” is a romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and released in 1987. The movie tells the story of Loretta Castorini (Cher), a widowed bookkeeper living in Brooklyn who falls in love with her fiance’s younger brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage).
The film also features strong performances from Olympia Dukakis, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Loretta’s mother, and Vincent Gardenia.
Set against the backdrop of a traditional Italian-American family, “Moonstruck” explores themes of love, family, and tradition.
It is a charming and witty film that balances humor with heartfelt moments and features a memorable soundtrack that includes opera music and Dean Martin’s classic song “That’s Amore.”
“Moonstruck” received critical acclaim upon its release and was a box office success. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won three, for Best Actress (Cher), Best Supporting Actress (Olympia Dukakis), and Best Original Screenplay.
The film has since become a classic of the romantic comedy genre and is celebrated for its strong performances, clever writing, and portrayal of Italian-American culture.
7. The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
The Thomas Crown Affair is a 1968 heist film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.
McQueen plays the titular character, Thomas Crown, a wealthy businessman who orchestrates a daring bank robbery in order to alleviate his boredom.
Dunaway plays the insurance investigator who is tasked with recovering the stolen money and bringing Crown to justice.
The Thomas Crown Affair is a stylish and sophisticated film that showcases Jewison’s skill as a director, as well as the chemistry between McQueen and Dunaway.
The film’s intricate plot and clever use of split-screen techniques create a sense of tension and suspense that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.
The Thomas Crown Affair is also notable for its innovative use of music, featuring a memorable score by Michel Legrand and a hit theme song, “The Windmills of Your Mind”, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Overall, The Thomas Crown Affair is a classic heist film that has stood the test of time. Its combination of style, wit, and intrigue make it a must-see for fans of the genre, and a testament to the talent of Jewison, McQueen, and Dunaway.
8. Only You (1994)
“Only You” is a 1994 American romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. The film follows Faith Corvatch (Tomei), a young woman who becomes convinced that her destiny is to marry a man named Damon Bradley.
When she receives a phone call from a man claiming to be Damon Bradley and heading to Italy, Faith impulsively decides to travel to Europe to find him, despite being engaged to a successful podiatrist named Dwayne (Billy Zane).
In Italy, Faith meets a charming American named Peter Wright (Downey Jr.) who offers to help her find Damon Bradley.
As they travel across Italy in search of Damon, Faith and Peter develop a strong connection, leading Faith to question whether her belief in destiny and Damon Bradley was misguided.
The film features stunning visuals of Italy’s picturesque landscapes and famous landmarks, as well as a memorable supporting cast including Bonnie Hunt, Joaquim de Almeida, and Fisher Stevens.
The soundtrack also features popular songs by artists such as Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole.
While the film received mixed reviews from critics upon its release, it has since become a cult classic among romantic comedy fans for its charming performances, witty dialogue, and gorgeous Italian setting.
9. The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
“The Cincinnati Kid” is a 1965 drama film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Steve McQueen in the lead role.
The film tells the story of Eric “The Kid” Stoner, a young poker player who is determined to prove himself as the best in the world.
Set in New Orleans during the Great Depression, the film follows Stoner’s quest to defeat the legendary poker player Lancey “The Man” Howard (played by Edward G. Robinson) in a high-stakes game.
Along the way, he must navigate a treacherous world of professional gamblers, corrupt officials, and dangerous relationships.
“The Cincinnati Kid” is noted for its iconic performances, particularly that of Steve McQueen, who delivers a subtle and nuanced portrayal of a young man consumed by his own ambition.
The film is also praised for its sharp dialogue, memorable characters, and tense poker scenes, which remain some of the most iconic in cinema history.
Upon its release, “The Cincinnati Kid” was a critical and commercial success, and has since become a beloved classic of the gambling genre.
The film is often cited as a benchmark for sports dramas and remains a powerful exploration of the price of ambition and the pursuit of excellence.
10. F.I.S.T. (1978)
“F.I.S.T.” is a drama film directed by Norman Jewison and released in 1978. The film tells the story of Johnny Kovak (played by Sylvester Stallone), a blue-collar worker who becomes a labor union leader in the 1930s.
As Kovak rises to prominence within the union, he clashes with corrupt management and government officials, leading to a violent and ultimately tragic confrontation. The film explores themes of power, corruption, and the struggle for workers’ rights.
“F.I.S.T.” is characterized by its gritty and realistic portrayal of the labor movement, as well as its strong performances, particularly by Sylvester Stallone, who delivers a nuanced and compelling portrayal of Johnny Kovak.
The film also features an impressive supporting cast, including Rod Steiger, Peter Boyle, and Melinda Dillon.
Despite mixed reviews from critics, “F.I.S.T.” was a commercial success, and has since become a cult classic.
It is regarded as a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of the labor movement and the challenges faced by those who fight for workers’ rights.
3 Characteristics of Norman Jewison Films
Norman Jewison is a Canadian film director, producer, and writer who has made a significant impact on Hollywood with his unique style and vision. Here are three characteristics that are often found in his films:
Social Commentary: Jewison’s films often tackle important social issues and offer insightful commentary on the state of society.
Whether exploring racial tensions in “In the Heat of the Night” or the complexities of the justice system in “And Justice for All,” Jewison’s films are often driven by a desire to shed light on important social issues and spark conversations about them.
Multidimensional Characters: Jewison is known for creating complex and multidimensional characters that feel like real people rather than one-dimensional caricatures.
His characters often have flaws, vulnerabilities, and contradictions that make them feel more human and relatable.
Genre-Bending: Jewison is not afraid to experiment with different genres and styles, often blending elements of drama, comedy, and social commentary in his films.
For example, his film “Moonstruck” is a romantic comedy that also explores themes of family, love, and tradition, while “Jesus Christ Superstar” is a musical that presents a controversial interpretation of the biblical story.
Overall, Norman Jewison is a versatile and talented filmmaker who is not afraid to tackle important social issues or experiment with different genres and styles.
His films continue to be celebrated for their intelligence, insight, and ability to connect with audiences on a deep and emotional level.
3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Norman Jewison Films
Social commentary: Norman Jewison’s films often explore important social issues such as racism, war, and social injustice.
He is known for tackling difficult subjects with sensitivity and thoughtfulness, and his films can provide a valuable perspective on complex issues.
Memorable characters and performances: Jewison’s films are populated by memorable and often complex characters, brought to life by talented actors.
From Cher’s Loretta Castorini in “Moonstruck” to Rod Steiger’s police chief in “In the Heat of the Night,” Jewison’s films feature some of the most memorable characters in cinema.
Variety of genres: Jewison has directed films in a wide range of genres, from musicals like “Jesus Christ Superstar” to crime dramas like “The Thomas Crown Affair.”
This variety makes his films accessible to a wide range of audiences and ensures that there is something for everyone in his body of work.
Best Norman Jewison Films – Wrapping Up
In conclusion, Norman Jewison is a legendary filmmaker who has made numerous outstanding films throughout his career.
His films are known for their powerful themes, intricate plots, and exceptional performances by actors. Some of his best films include:
In the Heat of the Night (1967) – A groundbreaking crime drama that tackles issues of racism and police brutality in a frank and powerful way.
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) – A stylish and sophisticated heist film that showcases Jewison’s skill as a director, as well as the chemistry between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.
Moonstruck (1987) – A romantic comedy that won multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Cher, and Best Original Screenplay.
Fiddler on the Roof (1971) – An epic musical that tells the story of a Jewish family in pre-revolutionary Russia.
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) – A musical that tells the story of the last days of Jesus Christ, featuring memorable performances and music.
Jewison’s films continue to resonate with audiences today, and his contributions to cinema have made him a true icon of the industry.
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