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Schumacher, Joel


Nationality: American. Born: New York, New York, 29 August 1939. Education: Attended the Fashion Institute of Technology; graduated with honors from the Parsons School of Design. Career: Worked as design-display artist at Henri Bendel department store while attending the Parsons School of Design, early 1960s; became a fashion designer and opened his own boutique, Paraphernalia, 1960s; worked on television commercials and designed packaging and clothing for the Revlon Group, 1960s; moved to Los Angeles and entered movies as a costume designer, 1972; designed costumes for The Time of the Cuckoo, presented at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, 1974; made directorial debut with made-for-television movie The Virginia Hill Story, 1974; made theatrical film debut with The Incredible Shrinking Woman, 1981; executive produced television pilot, Now We're Cookin', 1983; directed first stage production, Speed-the-Plow, in Chicago, 1989; directed music video The Devil Inside for rock group INXS; co-executive produced and directed pilot episode of the television series 2000 Malibu Road, 1992. Agent: Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.

Films as Director:


The Virginia Hill Story (for TV) (+ sc)


Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill (for TV) (+ sc)


The Incredible Shrinking Woman


D.C. Cab (+ sc)


St. Elmo's Fire (+ co-sc)


The Lost Boys






Dying Young


Falling Down


The Client


Batman Forever


A Time to Kill


Batman & Robin


8MM (+ co-pr); Flawless (+ sc, co-pr)




The Church of the Dead Girls

Other Films:


Play It as It Lays (Perry) (costumes); The Last of Sheila (Ross) (costumes)


Sleeper (Allen) (costumes); Blume in Love (Mazursky) (costumes)


Killer Bees (Harrington) (for TV) (production designer)


The Prisoner of Second Avenue (Frank) (costumes)


Sparkle (O'Steen) (sc); Car Wash (Schultz) (sc)


Interiors (Allen) (costumes); The Wiz (Lumet) (sc)


Slow Burn (Chapman) (for TV) (co-exec pr)


Foxfire (Taylor) (for TV) (co-exec pr)


The Babysitter (Ferland) (exec pr)


By SCHUMACHER: articles—

Interview in Interview (New York), September 1977.

Interview with Janet Maslin, in New York Times, 21 June 1985.

"Joel Schumacher," interview with A. Michaels, in Cinefantastique (Oak Park, Illinois), January 1990.

"Schumacher's Cat-related Theory," interview with Susan Morgan, in Interview (New York), July 1990.

"A Movie about Everything That Drives You Nuts," interview with G. Fuller, in Interview (New York), March 1993.

"The Last Romanov," interview with M. Dargis, in Village Voice (New York), 2 March 1993.

"A Director, His Life Redeemed, Savors the Summit of Success," interview with Bernard Weinraub, in New York Times, 3 March 1993.

"Riddle Me This, Batman," interview with B. Bibby, in Premiere (New York), May 1995.

"Visual Flair, a Hip Sensibility, and a Past," interview with Bernard Weinraub, in New York Times, 11 June 1995.

Schumacher, Joel, "Long Shot," in Premiere (New York), August 1996.

"Another Schumacher Summer," interview with J. Roberts, in DGAMagazine (Los Angeles), no. 3, 1997.

"What Is DVD?" interview with R. Pandiscio, in Interview (New York), May 1997.

"Holy Split Personalities," interview with Ingrid Sischy, in Interview (New York), June 1997.

"The Mayor of Gotham Speaks," interview with M. Miller, in Newsweek (New York), 23 June 1997.

"Radiance and Shadow," interview with Michael Fleming, in Movieline (Los Angeles), February 1999.

On SCHUMACHER: articles—

Talley, Andrea Leon, article in Women's Wear Daily (New York), 17–24 October 1975.

Silverman, Stephen, article in New York Post, 4 August 1987.

Farrow, Moira, "Making Cousins: An Excursion," in New YorkTimes, 5 February 1989.

Lew, Julie, article in New York Times, 16 June 1991.

"Filmografie," in Segnocinema (Vincenza, Italy), January/February 1992.

Brennan, Susan, article in Newsday (Melville, New York), 23 February 1993.

Clark, J., "Joel Schumacher Has Something . . . To Say," in Premiere (New York), March 1993.

Lantos, S., "From Rags to Riches," in Movieline (Los Angeles), April 1993.

Biodrowski, S., "Batman Forever," in Cinefantastique (Forest Park, Illinois), no. 4, 1995.

Lantos, S., "On a Wing and a Prayer," in Movieline (Los Angeles), June 1995.

Vaz, M.C., "Forever and a Knight," in Cinefex (Riverside, California), September 1995.

Reid, C., "Joel Schumacher, Director," in Cinefantastique (Forest Park, Illinois), no. 1, 1997.

Reid, C., "Batman & Robin," in Cinefantastique (Forest Park, Illinois), no. 1, 1997.

Major, W., "Bat out of Hell," in Box Office (Los Angeles), May 1997.

Pizzello, S., "Heavy Weather Hits Gotham City," in AmericanCinematographer (Hollywood), July 1997.

Webster, A., "Filmography," in Premiere (New York), July 1997.

* * *

Joel Schumacher's background as a fashion designer, display artist, and package designer prepared him for his entry into the film industry as a costume designer. Similarly, he was primed for his career as a feature film director by his work as scriptwriter on several features, and especially as scriptwriter-director of two impressive made-for-television movies: The Virginia Hill Story (a based-on-fact chronicle of mobster Bugsy Siegel's moll, that is a variation on Warren Beatty's Bugsy); and Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill (a well-done comedy-drama spotlighting various characters involved in a talent show at a Southern roadhouse).

All of Schumacher's films have been generic Hollywood product, filled with all the gloss their budgets could buy. His debut feature is The Incredible Shrinking Woman, a distaff reworking of the 1950s science-fiction cult classic The Incredible Shrinking Man. Lily Tomlin plays a housewife whose continuous exposure to chemical products results in her beginning to shrink. The film starts out as a wickedly clever spoof of the plight of the American housewife; as Tomlin becomes smaller, she symbolically takes up residence in a dollhouse. But it soon degenerates into a frantic and silly farce. While The Incredible Shrinking Man is a classic of its kind, The Incredible Shrinking Woman became yet another forgettable Hollywood comedy.

Among Schumacher's better works are Dying Young, the deeply moving chronicle of a fatally ill cancer patient and the woman who befriends him; Cousins, an amiable Americanization of Jean-Charles Tachella's smash-hit French romantic comedy Cousin-Cousine; Flatliners, a fast-paced drama about medical students who make themselves temporarily legally dead so that they may experience afterlife episodes; and Flawless, the well-intentioned and well-acted story of a conservative, retired security guard who suffers a stroke, and is forced to bond with his neighbor, a drag queen. Schumacher also directed two slick but solid adaptations of John Grisham novels: The Client, in which a lawyer represents an eleven-year-old boy who has come to know more than he ought to about Mafia dealings; and A Time to Kill, about a white lawyer who defends a black man who had shot and killed the two rednecks accused of raping his daughter. And he made the entertaining if special effects-laden Batman Forever, in which the famed superhero goes up against the Riddler and Two-Face.

The second wrung of Schumacher's credits includes D.C. Cab, a so-so comedy about a taxi company operated by oddballs; The Lost Boys, about a gang of adolescent vampires; St. Elmo's Fire, a brat-pack soap opera; and Batman & Robin, a flat, uninspired sequel. 8MM is the flashy but unpleasant story of a private detective/family man bent on determining if the star of a snuff film did indeed die on camera. Perhaps Schumacher's most unique work is Falling Down, an allegory featuring Michael Douglas as a stressed-out Modern Man who goes haywire while stuck in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway and begins a violence-laden odyssey across the city. Like The Incredible Shrinking Woman, the film is an attempt to make a statement about the perils of contemporary American society. And also like its predecessor, the result is only intermittently successful.

As the years have gone by, Schumacher's proficiency has allowed him to be assigned more prestigious, higher-budgeted projects. In his better work, he has been able to combine surface gloss with strong dramatic elements.

—Audrey E. Kupferberg, updated by Rob Edelman

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Schumacher, Joel 1939-

Schumacher, Joel 1939-


Born August 29, 1939, in New York, NY; son of Francis and Marian (maiden name, Kantor) Schumacher. Education: Parsons School of Design, New York, NY, B.A. (with honors), 1965; also attended Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY.


Office—Joel Schumacher Productions, 3400 Riverside Dr., Suite 900, Burbank, CA 91505. Agent—Creative Artists Agency, 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067; (commercials) Alturas Redfish Films, 1617 Broadway Ave., 2nd Floor, Santa Monica, CA 90404.


Director, costume designer, producer, and writer. Joel Schumacher Productions, Burbank, CA, president. Affiliated with the production of television commercials. Worked as window dresser for New York City department stories, 1950s; Henri Bendel (department store), New York City, worked as design and display artist, early 1960s; owner of the boutique Paraphernalia, 1960s; Revlon Group Inc., clothing and packaging designer, 1970s.

Awards, Honors:

Nomination for Golden Palm, Cannes Film Festival, 1993, for Falling Down; ShoWest Award, director of the year, National Association of Theatre Owners, 1997; nomination for Golden Berlin Bear, Berlin International Film Festival, 1999, for 8MM; ShoEast Award of Excellence in Filmmaking, National Association of Theatre Owners, 1999; Artistic Achievement Award, Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, 2000; Solidarity Award and nomination for Golden Seashell, both San Sebastian International Film Festival, 2003, for Veronica Guerin; Taormina Arte Award, Taormina International Film Festival, 2003; Golden Satellite Award nomination, best adapted screenplay, International Press Academy, 2005, for The Phantom of the Opera.


Film Director:

The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Universal, 1981.

D.C. Cab (also known as Mr. T and Company and Street Fleet,) Universal, 1983.

St. Elmo's Fire, Columbia, 1985.

The Lost Boys, Warner Bros., 1987.

Cousins (also known as A Touch of Infidelity), Paramount, 1989.

Flatliners, Columbia, 1990.

Dying Young (also known as The Choice of Love), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1991.

Falling Down (also known as Chute libre), 1993.

The Client, Warner Bros., 1994.

Batman Forever (also known as Forever), Warner Bros., 1995.

A Time to Kill, Warner Bros., 1996.

Batman & Robin, Warner Bros., 1997.

(And producer) 8MM (also known as 8mm—Acht Millimeter), Columbia, 1999.

(And producer) Flawless, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1999.

Tigerland, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2000.

Phone Booth, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2001.

Bad Company (also known as Ceska spojka), Buena Vista, 2002.

Veronica Guerin, Buena Vista, 2003.

(And song producer) The Phantom of the Opera (also known as Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera"), Warner Bros., 2004.

The Number 23, New Line Cinema, 2004.

Film Executive Producer:

The Babysitter, 1995.

Gossip, Warner Bros., 2001.

Film Costume Designer:

Play It as It Lays, Universal, 1972.

The Last of Sheila, Warner Bros., 1972.

Blume in Love, Warner Bros., 1973.

Sleeper, United Artists, 1973.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Warner Bros., 1975.

Interiors, United Artists, 1978.

Film Appearances:

Himself, Welcome to Hollywood, Phaedra Cinema, 1998.

What the Folk? Behind the Scenes of "Queer as Folk," 2000.

Stupidity (documentary), Disinformation, 2003.

Coming Attractions: The History of the Movie Trailer, Andrew J. Kuehn, Jr. Foundation, 2006.

Heckler (documentary), Jizzy Entertainment, 2007.

Television Work; Movies:

Production designer, Killer Bees, 1974.

Director, The Virginia Hill Story, NBC, 1974.

Director, Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill, NBC, 1979.

Executive producer (with Stefanie Staffin Kowal), Slow Burn, Showtime, 1986.

Television Director; Pilots:

2000 Malibu Road, 1992.

Television Director; Episodic:

Premiere episode, 2000 Malibu Road, 1992.

Television Executive Producer:

Now We're Cookin' (pilot), CBS, 1983.

Foxfire (also known as Code Name: Foxfire and Slay It Again, Sam), 1985.

2000 Malibu Road (series), 1992.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Riddle Me This: Why Is Batman Forever?, 1995.

(In archive footage) 1st Annual Mystery Science Theater 3000 Summer Blockbuster Review, 1997.

The ShoWest Awards, 1997.

Masters of Fantasy: Joel Schumacher, Sci-Fi Channel, 1997.

The Boys of Manchester: On the Set of "Queer As Folk," 2000.

Intimate Portrait: Liz Smith, Lifetime, 2001.

The Big Show (also known as The Big Show: Toronto International Film Festival), 2001.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Himself, The Directors, Encore, 1999.

"8mm," HBO First Look, HBO, 1999.

"The Phantom of the Opera," HBO First Look, HBO, 2004.

Television Guest Appearances; Episodic:

This Morning (also known as This Morning with Richard and Judy), ITV, 1995.

Showbiz Today, Cable News Network, 1995.

Mundo VIP, 1999.

Richard & Judy, Channel 4, 2003.

Rove Live, Ten Network, 2003.

Stage Work:

Costume designer, The Time of the Cuckoo, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, c. 1974.

Director, Speed-the-Plow, Chicago, IL, 1989.

Director, Them, HERE Arts Center, New York City, 1999.



The Lost Boys: A Retrospective, Warner Home Video, 2004.

Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997—Beyond Batman: Dressed to Thrill—The Costumes of Batman & Robin, Warner Home Video, 2005.

Behind the Mask: The Story of "The Phantom of the Opera," Really Useful Films, 2005.

(Uncredited) The Making of "The Phantom of the Opera, " Really Useful Films, 2005.

Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight—Batman Unbound, Warner Home Video, 2005.

Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight—Reinventing a Hero, Warner Home Video, 2005.

Director of the music videos "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal, 1994; "The End Is the Beginning Is the End" by Smashing Pumpkins, 1997; "Devil Inside" by INXS, 1988 (also included in the compilations INXS: The Video Flick, 1988, and I'm Only Looking: The Best of INXS, Rhino Home Video, 2004); and "Letting the Cables Sleep" by Bush, 1999.



Car Wash, Universal, 1976.

Sparkle (also based on story by Schumacher and Howard Rosenman), Warner Bros., 1976.

The Wiz (based on musical by William F. Brown and Charlie Smalls), Universal, 1978.

D.C. Cab (also known as Street Fleet; based on story by Schumacher and Topper Carew), Universal, 1983.

(With Carl Kurlander), St. Elmo's Fire, Columbia, 1985.

(And "Ashley's Song" and "Tasha's Song") Flawless, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1999.

The Phantom of the Opera (also known as Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera"), Warner Bros., 2004.

Television Scripts:

The Virginia Hill Story (movie), NBC, 1974.

Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill (movie), NBC, 1979.

Now We're Cookin' (pilot), CBS, 1983.


(With Andrew Lloyd Webber) The Phantom of the Opera Companion, Pavilion, 2005.


The television program Foxfire (also known as Code Name: Foxfire), broadcast in 1985, was based on a story by Schumacher. The film Sparkle was adapted for the stage by Ntozake Shange as Sparkle: The Musical.



International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Directors, St. James Press, 1996.

Newsmakers, Issue 3, Gale, 2004.


Cinefastique, January, 1990; March, 1999, pp. 44-45.

Empire, Issue 88, 1996, pp. 62-64.

Film Journal International, June, 2002, p. 12.

Interview, July, 1990; May, 1997, p. 48; June, 1997, pp. 90-95; February, 1999, p. 80.

Journal of American and Comparative Cultures, fall-winter, 2002, pp. 375-383.

Movieline, February, 1999, pp. 66-70, 97.

Newsday, February 23, 1993.

Newsweek, June 30, 1997, pp. 76-77.

New York Times, June 16, 1991; March 3, 1993; June 11, 1995.

People Weekly, July 14, 1997, pp. 117-122.

Premiere, August, 1996, p. 76; November, 2000, p. 52.

Starlog, September, 1990; July, 1995; September, 1996; July, 1997.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
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"Schumacher, Joel 1939-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . 16 Dec. 2017 <>.

"Schumacher, Joel 1939-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . (December 16, 2017).

"Schumacher, Joel 1939-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from