Norman Jewison, director of 'Fiddler on the Roof' and 'Moonstruck', dies at 97

But throughout his career, Jewison was repeatedly drawn to more serious films, in films such as “FIST” (1978), a union drama starring Sylvester Stallone; “In Country” (1989), about the daughter of a victim of the Vietnam War; and his last film, “The Statement” (2003), the story of a former Nazi collaborator, played by Michael Caine.

Well into the post-civil rights era, Jewison remained interested in race, specifically racial injustice. In 1984, he directed “A Soldier's Story,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning adaptation of Charles Fuller's “A Soldier's Play,” which, like “In the Heat of the Night,” told the story of a murder investigation in the Deep South, this time on a military base in World War II-era Louisiana. The film was praised by critics and earned Mr. Jewison another best picture nomination.

But when it was announced a few years later that Jewison would direct a film about the life of Malcolm Filmmaker Spike Lee, who had long wanted to make such a film, was the most outspoken critic of the choice, arguing that a white director could not do justice to the story of an important black political activist.

Jewison eventually left the project, although he denied that his departure was in response to the protest. Lee himself went on to direct “Malcolm

In 1999, Jewison directed “The Hurricane,” about Rubin Carter, the African-American boxer whose career was cut short by a murder conviction and who was imprisoned for nearly 20 years before charges against him were dismissed. Denzel Washington (who had one of his first film roles in “A Soldier's Story” and also starred in “Malcolm “). But the film was criticized by many for taking liberties in its depiction of Mr. Carter's life and legal battles.

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