David Puttnam rose from a working-class background into the advertising business as a photographer's agent during London's Swinging 60s. After a few false starts in film, Puttnam hit his stride as a producer in two collaborations with director Alan Parker: "Bugsy Malone" (1976) and the Oscar-winning hit "Midnight Express" (1978). Puttnam would publicly regret the latter film's exploitative affect on audiences, and this unlikely "mea culpa" launched him as a responsible renegade willing to collide with stars or bankers. His eye for directors with panache gave several promising talents their debuts or breakthroughs, including Ridley Scott ("The Duellists" 1977), Roland Joffe ("The Killing Fields" 1984) and Bill Forsyth ("Local Hero" 1983). Puttnam's star never shone brighter than after his production of Hugh Hudson's "Chariots of Fire" (1981) won the Academy Award for Best Picture.