Director Michael Winner dies aged 77
Other notable films included a remake of The Big Sleep, with Robert Mitchum as private eye Philip Marlowe, and Hannibal Brooks, which starred Oliver Reed as a prisoner-of-war who makes a bid for freedom with an elephant from a German zoo.
But he is probably best known for the 1974 film Death Wish, which starred Charles Bronson as a mild-mannered architect who becomes a violent vigilante after his family is attacked in New York.
Actor John Cleese paid tribute to his friend.
“I have just heard the very sad news about Michael. He was the dearest, kindest, funniest and most generous of friends. I shall miss him terribly,” he said in a statement.
Restaurant critic Jay Rayner wrote on Twitter: “RIP Michael Winner. He could be absurd and made some lousy films. But he could also be a rather lovely man. Winner made life more interesting.”
Journalist and family friend Rod Gilchrist described Winner as “one of the most extraordinary people you could ever meet”.
He said: “He was one of the last of the great Hollywood showmen. Given to extravagant gestures, he lived life at 100mph. He could by turns be incredibly generous, funny, playful and kind, while at the same time Mr Winner made a formidable adversary.
“With friends he was very loyal, supporting many financially through times of hardship.
“His films always had populist appeal, but Michael was also a man of refined tastes, enjoying great art. He was also a passionate advocate of the nation’s architectural heritage which his own home, a Queen Anne revival mansion in Kensington, bore witness to. Michael cared deeply about the society we live in. When Pc Yvonne Fletcher was murdered by Libyan terrorists in St James’s Square in the early eighties, he called for the founding of the Police Memorial Trust which honours officers with memorials where they fell.
“When no one came forward, Michael founded the trust himself. He subsequently poured much of his fortune into supporting it and was tireless in his work for it.
“Mr Winner’s impeccable connections ensured that four prime ministers attended the laying of memorial stones at different times around the country and Queen Elizabeth unveiled the National Police Memorial in the Mall in 2005.
“I don’t know anybody else who would have done this or achieved so much for the police and the memory of their officers who had given their lives fighting crime. He was utterly unique.”