British director Ken Russell dies aged 84

British director Ken Russell dies aged 84

LONDON - Agence France-Presse
British director Ken Russell dies aged 84

British film director Ken Russell at a reception to launch the film "The Boy Friend", in London, England, in this file photo dated April 22, 1971. AP photo

British film director Ken Russell, who was nominated for an Oscar for "Women in Love" in 1970, has died at the age of 84, his son said today.

The eccentric director also took charge of "Tommy", the film version of The Who rock opera album, and the cult horror flick "Lair of the White Worm", which gave an early leading role to Hugh Grant.

Russell is believed to have been ill for some time and died in hospital on Sunday.

Fellow British director Michael Winner, who first met Russell in the mid-1960s, said he was a "one-off".

"He was so innovative. He was so daring. He had a unique style and ploughed a unique furrow," Winner told BBC television.

"He was very jovial when you met him privately. He wasn't the sort of mad sadist which you might think from seeing some of the movies.

"He obviously had this duplicity of mind. So he pushed the barriers completely, got away with it sometimes and didn't get away with it at other times." Russell started his career in television before making his name as a director with his sexually graphic adaptation of D H Lawrence's "Women in Love".

The late actor Oliver Reed, who wrestled naked with Alan Bates in the film, said that when he worked with Russell on the movie, the director was "starting to go crazy".

Reed said at the time: "Before that he was a sane, likeable TV director. Now he's an insane, likeable film director."