George P. Cosmatos


George Pan Cosmatos (born Yorgo Pan Cosmatos; January 4, 1941 – April 19, 2005) was a Greco-Italian film director and screenwriter. He was born to a Greek family in Florence, Italy, and grew up in Egypt and Cyprus. He is said to have spoken six languages. After studying film at the London Film School, he became assistant director to Otto Preminger on Exodus (1960), with Paul Newman; based on Leon Uris’s novel about the birth of Israel. Thereafter he worked on Michael Cacoyannis’s Zorba the Greek (1964), with Anthony Quinn; in which he had a small part as Boy with Acne. He made his directorial debut with the romantic drama The Beloved (1971), with Raquel Welch and Richard Johnson. Following early success in his home country with drama films such as Massacre in Rome (1973), with Richard Burton and Marcello Mastroianni (based on the real-life Ardeatine massacre); Cosmatos retooled his career towards mainstream ‘blockbuster’ action and adventure films, including The Cassandra Crossing (1976), with Sophia Loren, Richard Harris, Ava Gardner, Martin Sheen, Burt Lancaster, Lee Strasberg and O.J. Simpson; and Escape to Athena (1979), with Roger Moore, Telly Savalas, David Niven, Stefanie Powers, Claudia Cardinale, Richard Roundtree, Sonny Bono, and Elliott Gould; both of which were British-Italian co-productions.

After relocating to North America, he directed the horror film Of Unknown Origin (1983), with Peter Weller. This was followed by some of his best-known work, including the action films Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and Cobra (1986), both with Sylvester Stallone; the science-fiction horror film Leviathan (1989), with Weller, Richard Crenna, Ernie Hudson, and Daniel Stern; and the critically acclaimed Western Tombstone (1993), with Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Dana Delany. The last film he directed was the political thriller Shadow Conspiracy (1997), with Charlie Sheen, Donald Sutherland, Linda Hamilton and Sam Waterston; which was a critical and commercial failure. He died of lung cancer on April 19, 2005, at his home in Victoria, British Columbia at the age of 64. He’s survived by his son, Panos Cosmatos, who is also a filmmaker.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Sin (1971)
  • Massacre in Rome (1973)
  • The Cassandra Crossing (1976)
  • Escape to Athena (1979)
  • Of Unknown Origin (1983)
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
  • Cobra (1986)
  • Leviathan (1989)
  • Tombstone (1993)
  • Shadow Conspiracy (1997)