Responsible for scripting some of the most intelligent Hollywood films of the past four decades, Alan Sharp’s writing career began on British television in 1963 with Funny Noises with Their Mouths, an episode in the BBC’s First Night series that starred Michael Caine.
A first full-length script, A Knight in Tarnished Armour, followed in The Wednesday Play slot in 1965, with ITV Playhouse featuring A Sound from the Sea in 1970. That same year, The Long Distance Piano Player featured the Kinks’ lead singer Ray Davies in a starring role, and launched the BBC’s Play for Today series.
Graduating to Hollywood, Sharp’s film debut was the 1971 George C Scott drama The Last Run, quickly followed by western The Hired Hand, starring and directed by Peter Fonda. Sharp achieved a wider profile with two other westerns – Ulzana’s Raid, starring Burt Lancaster (1972), and Billy Two Hats (1974), which featured another Hollywood veteran, Gregory Peck – and the 1975 Gene Hackman thriller Night Moves.
In 1983, he adapted Robert Ludlum’s crime novel The Osterman Weekend for what would be Sam Peckinpah’s last film, and wrote Rob Roy (1995) for Michael Caton-Jones, with Liam Neeson in the title role. His last film was the 2008 Edwardian comedy-drama Dean Spanley, with Peter O’Toole in the cast. His last television credit was a two-part retelling of Ben Hur in 2010.
Alan Sharp was born in Alyth, near Dundee, on January 12, 1934. He was twice married and also had a child, the actress known as Rudi Davies, with the novelist Beryl Bainbridge. He died, aged 79, from cancer of the brain on February 8, and is survived by his second wife and six children.