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Michael Stoddard Laughlin (born 1938) is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He was raised in Illinois.
In 2012, Two-Lane Blacktop was chosen as one of only 20 films to be housed in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Hailed as a ' minimalist classic', it was chosen as a fine example of the short-lived period of youth-oriented films following "Bonnie and Clyde," "The Graduate" and "Easy Rider" in the late 1960s. Producers such as Laughlin financed a spate of low-budget, innovative films by young "New Hollywood" filmmakers, with influences ranging from playwright Samuel Beckett to European filmmakers Robert Bresson, Jacques Rivette and Michelangelo Antonioni. 'Two-Lane Blacktop' follows two obsessed but laconic young operators of a souped-up 1955 Chevy (singer-songwriter James Taylor and Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson) as they engage in a cross-country race with a 1970 Pontiac GTO. It also stars Warren Oates and Laurie Bird, and is purported to be Quentin Tarrantino's favourite film of all time.
In 1984, "Strange Invaders" won the Saturn Award for Best Screenplay, and was nominated for Best Film at the Avoriaz Fantasy Film Festival.
Dame Edith Evans was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for The Whisperers, and won Best Actress at the New York Film Critics Award.
Laughlin was brought up in Minonk Illinois, where his father Donnald M. Laughlin had extensive farms. He played a lot of basketball and studied law at college. During his first few days in California he met the Dean Martin family and scores of movie stars, which had a lasting effect on him. His mother Hazel Stoddard Laughlin died in 1965. During the late 1960s he lived in London, where he produced "The Whisperers" starring Dame Edith Evans, directed by Bryan Forbes. It was in London that he met and married Leslie Caron who had two children from her previous marriage to Sir Peter Hall. They moved to Los Angeles where they settled in Cuesta Way, Bel Air, and the next few years Laughlin produced a series of ground-breaking films including the cult hit Two-Lane Blacktop starring James Taylor and Laurie Bird. He worked with innovative writers and directors such as Floyd Mutrux and Monte Hellman.
He and Caron separated in 1975 after living in Paris for a year. Laughlin then lived with the writer Susanna Moore who had a young daughter Lulu Sylbert, from her previous marriage to production designer Richard Sylbert. They lived in London and New York during the 1980s and 1990s, and Laughlin began writing and directing 'genre' films styled in hommage to 1950s B movies. 'Mesmerized', which Laughlin wrote and directed was produced by Jodie Foster. After separating from Moore, Michael Laughlin wrote several screenplays for major Hollywood studios including "Town and Country". At the first opportunity he retired to Honolulu, Hawaii where he plays golf.
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