The physician-author-filmmaker who gave us “Jurassic Park,” “Sphere,” “Rising Sun,” “Twister,” “Disclosure,” “Congo,” “Coma,” “The Terminal Man,” “The Great Train Robbery,” “Timeline,” “The 13th Warrior,” “Looker,” “Runaway,” “The Andromeda Strain,” “Westworld” and “ER” is no more.
Michael Crichton passed away Tuesday at age 66.
While studying at Harvard Med, he wrote a series of novels under the pen names John Lange and Jeffrey Hudson. One of these, "A Case of Need," won the 1969 Edgar Award for best novel.
The first novel written under his own name, 1969's "The Andromeda Strain," was quickly made into a 1971 movie directed by Robert Wise.
It was the first in a long line of Crichton novels adapted for the screen, among them "A Case of Need" (which became "The Carey Treatment"), "The Terminal Man," "The Great Train Robbery," "Eaters of the Dead" (which became "The Thirteenth Warrior"), "Congo," "Sphere," "Jurassic Park," "Rising Sun," "Disclosure," "The Lost World" and "Timeline."
Crichton novels optioned for the big screen but yet unmade include "Airframe," "Prey," "State of Fear" and "Next."
He also directed several movies from his own original screenplays, including "Westworld," "Coma," "The Great Train Robbery," "Looker," and "Runaway."
He directed "Physical Evidence," for which he did not receive screenplay credit, and wrote "Twister," which he did not direct.
He created "ER," which became a mammoth TV success and launched handsome TV actor George Clooney into a movie career.
If all that's not enough to account for his 66 years on the planet, he was also a practicing M.D. and authored four works of non-fiction: "Five Patients," "Jasper Johns," "Electronic Life" and "Travels."
Find CBS’ story on the literal and literary giant Michael Crichton here.
Hey, guys. Quint here. I was 12 when Jurassic Park came out and it blew me away. I feel very lucky to have gotten in on the tail end of the part of Spielberg's career where he was just constantly awing the audience, where his summer movie was an experience. That's not to say he doesn't make good films now. He certainly does... I think MUNICH was incredible and while I liked WAR OF THE WORLDS it didn't have the same effect on me that JURASSIC PARK had and I doubt he could ever top that.
It was the perfect storm of technology converging on one story. Digital Audio premiered there and blew me out of my seat, photo-realistic CG came onto the scene for the first time and supporting all the bells and whistles was Michael Crichton's imaginative what if? story. What if it was possible to bring dinosaurs back through advances in science and technology?
Not only did it see feasible, I believed wholeheartedly that it could actually be done.
That film inspired me to read the book, which is a whole different beast. There are aspects that are better (like the time crunch of recalling the boat to the mainland with the raptors onboard), but even if it boils down to pure nostalgia I can not be one of those people who scream that the movie is half of what the book is.
But it's fascinating, especially when you look back on Spielberg's misfire sequel THE LOST WORLD, which incorporates more elements of the first book that didn't make it in (like the T-Rex waterfall scene) than it seemed to incorporate elements from Crichton's follow-up novel of the same name.
It was the movie JURASSIC PARK that got me reading the original book, which then led me to a lot of Crichton's books. I spent my junior high years reading everything I could from Michael Crichton and Stephen King. For a very long time, my favorite book was SPHERE.
If you haven't read it, please do. It's an amazing story that really captured my imagination. The movie is a huge let-down, though. It's almost worse for me than the hack-job adaptation of CONGO was because at least CONGO gets so bad that it becomes campy and ridiculous, but SPHERE was a fantastic story with Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson and Liev Schreiber and it's just so damn mediocre. Sharon Stone was miscast, the awe and wonder of the story was gone. You can draw comparisons between the novel of Jurassic Park and the film from Spielberg, argue which is better all day, but you can't deny that Spielberg captured the majesty of the story, visualized the awe of Crichton's words.
Crichton didn't just write novels, he also directed films, wrote screenplays and he wasn't bad at it. I have a very soft spot in my heart for RUNAWAYS, the killer robot spider movie he did in the '80s with Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons, of all people, as the baddie. Acid-spitting robot spiders? Of course that movie is awesome!
I'm also a massive fan of an underseen flick he did in the late '70s called THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, a film that Harry and his dad introduced me to in my teen years. It's a period adventure comedy starring Donald Sutherland, Sean Connery and Leslie-Anne Down appearing hotter than she's ever been.
Crichton also wrote and directed other '70s greats like COMA and WESTWORLD... He did a film on my AMAD list called PURSUIT that I really want to get to, starring the great Ben Gazzara and Martin Sheen, about a nerve gas attack.
Crichton's death is a big loss to the entertainment world as a whole and my thoughts will be with Mr. Crichton's friends, family and fans.