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john landis-controversial

Discussion in 'Movies' started by chris winters, Jul 22, 2004.

  1. chris winters

    chris winters Second Unit

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    Hes a bit passed his prime, but John Landis made some quality movies early in his carear. He is not without controversy, however, as there is still some doubt as to his culpability in the helicopter crash that killed actor vic Morrow, and 2 young children durring his filming of the Twilight Zone Movie. He was aquitted, but reading about the case leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and a certain sense of injustice. I will never look at his movies in the same way. Here is a link to a great article about what happened.

    http://www.crimelibrary.com/notoriou...ht_zone/1.html
     
  2. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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    How can you say that? As we speak the man is wrapping up 2001 Maniacs, a remake of the 40 year old classic, Two Thousand Maniacs...which in turn was a remake of the half-century-old Brigadoon. That musical connection is probably why Travis Tritt is in the cast.

    But I won't buy the DVD if it's not DTS.

    Henry
     
  3. chris winters

    chris winters Second Unit

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    i hadnt heard about anything he has been attached to in quite awhile. Maybe he will make a comeback into the mainstream. Time will tell i guess.
     
  4. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    One can easily say that Landis is past his prime. He's not made a successful movie in 16 years. Just because he can still get work doesn't mean he's not past his prime - cripes, they still let John Carpenter make movies even though he's not done anything worthwhile in 20 years...
     
  5. Dave Hahn

    Dave Hahn Second Unit

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    Real Name:
    Dave Hahn
    I'll never understand why people are so willing to call an athlete or an artist "past his prime." Isn't that what they said about Jack Nichlaus, right before he won The Maters at age 42?

    They said the same thing about Nolan Ryan in the spring of 1990, Uncle Nolan went on to pitch his first no-hitter in nine years, the sixth of his career, (Ryan pitched another no-hitter the next year, his seventh and last).

    Of course, in the 1950's everyone knew Frank Lloyd Wright was a washed up old man who couldn't compete in the "new architecture." Then he did the Guggenheim. [​IMG]

    I've always found it wise to never underestimate talent or genius.
     
  6. chris winters

    chris winters Second Unit

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    here are some of john's carear highlights -in my humble oppinion of couse.

    kentucky fried movie -1977
    animal house -1978
    the blue brothers -1980
    american werewolf in london -1981
    trading places -1983

    this is a pretty amazing streak of work. some great cult movies being made, all in a row.
    then it gets a bit rough

    twilght zone -1983
    thriller video -1983
    into the night -1985

    not so strong following the tragedy
    a bit of a recovery with:

    spies like us -1985
    three amigos -1986
    coming to america -1988

    not too shabby. Solid efforts for the most part,
    but then it gets ugly and he has yet to recover.

    oscar -1990
    innocent blood 1992
    beverly hills cop 3 -1994
    the stupids -1996
    blue brothers 2000 -1998


    will he ever come back strong? does he deserve too? we shall see i supose
     
  7. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    I saw Landis' most recent movie earlier this year at a fest. It's called Slasher and it's about this one maniacal "headhunter" car salesman. The sort of guy a dealership calls in when they need to unload a lot of inventory in a short period of time.

    It's slight but still rather entertaining.

    Regarding John Landis, and considering his entire body of work...I consider myself a HUGE fan.

    73 - Schlock
    77 - Kentucky Fried Movie
    78 - Animal House
    80 - The Blues Brothers
    81 - An American Werewolf in London
    83 - Trading Places

    --- At this point, the guy's batting 1.000 with three homers, a double and an infield single.

    83 - The whole Twilight Zone tragedy happens. At the resulting movie (or at least Landis' portion) isn't all too hot.

    85 - Into the Night
    85 - Spies Like Us
    86 - Three Amigos
    87 - Amazon Women on the Moon
    88 - Coming to America

    ----This period starts out with a smaller flick (I kinda like it, but not like I love, say, The Blues Brothers) before Landis kicks in with two solid farces. Then a little segment work like the old Kentucky Fried thingie, and then a HUGE hit with Eddie Murphy.

    So what comes next?

    91 - Oscar - Bad, to be sure, but not as amazingly awful as the reputation seems to suggest. And certainly not awful enough to ruin such a profitable career!

    92 - Innocent Blood - See, Landis is clearly not getting anything with a budget. Weird. Not a bad little movie, but hardly anything amazing. Obviously it made no money.

    94 - Beverly Hills Cop 3 - This movie was the first time I ever HATED a John Landis movie. It's oppressively bad. I was like "What HAPPENED?"

    96 - The Stupids - A dumb but still likable little joke of a movie. Obviously didn't break any box office records.

    98 - Blues Brothers 2000 - And this would be the second John Landis movie that I actively loathe. A lot. Let's not even get into bb2k.

    98 - Susan's Plan - Desperate and unfunny cable flick. Not good.

    04 - Slasher - I believe it premiered recently on AMC or Trio or IFC. Check it out.

    Since Landis has been one of my favorite comedy directors for as long as I can remember, I'd be positively thrilled to see the guy get back on the horse and be given another shot. But who knows what goes on in the personal lives of directors and behind closed doors of the movie studios?

    All I know is that the guy who directed Animal House, The Blues Brothers, American Werewolf in London, Trading Places, Spies Like Us, Coming to America and Three Amigos should still be able to deliver a solid studio comedy, given the right script and an ample budget.

    Or maybe the guy's just lost his passion for stuff like that.
     
  8. chris winters

    chris winters Second Unit

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    john may be one of those directors whos aesthetic fits a certain era perfectly, in his case the 80s, and wasnt able to change with the times. It would be fun to think about other directors, or actors for that matter, who represent other periods and dont remain on top as time passes them by. David Fincher may be a "90s" director who wont be as artistically successful in the next decade and beyond. Just food for thought. I think Landis has solid comedy chops, and a nice sense of the irreverent. His films just have a sense of 80s mayham, and excess about them, and a lack of irony, and maybe that doesnt playas well in these more modern times in which we live.
     
  9. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Astute observations, Chris. But hey, we do have a Porky's remake on the horizon, so maybe the wheel will swing around and John Landis will have a place again.

    I'd pay 8 bucks to see Spies Like Us, Too. [​IMG]
     
  10. chris winters

    chris winters Second Unit

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    we are kind of going through a comedy resurgance right now, with movies like dodgeball, and anchorman, starksy and hutch etc... It seems like these arent too far removed from movies like 3 amigos and spies like us. They definately owe a certain style to the old comedies. Imagine what Landis might do with a will ferrel, or jack black, and ben stiller. He should try his hand with some of the great new comedy talent out there. could be somthing special. Somehow hes not on the A-list anymore i guess. I think he was known as being a bit belligerent and hard to work with.
     
  11. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short

    &

    Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller

    as...

    Six Amigos!

    I love it.

    We get Vince Vaughn and Charles Grodin to play the villains.

    And speaking of vanished celebraities, where HAS Charles Grodin been these days?? [​IMG]
     
  12. Jerry R Colvin

    Jerry R Colvin Stunt Coordinator

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    I still want to know if John Landis and Leonard Maltin are the same person...
     
  13. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Screenwriter

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    I agree. I find a lot of Landis's early work very interesting visually, especially for comedies. That pretty much ended with Trading Spaces in '83 and I've found almost everything since very mundane on a visual level (to speak nothing of the quality of the actual film).
     
  14. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    I actually kinda liked Oscar. Yeah, it was nothing new under the sun, but I actually though Stallone handled himself as well as could be expected, and Tim Curry is always good.

    Jason
     
  15. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    Thanks Chris for the link about that helicopter crash. It was a long and disturbing reading. I knew about the accident but never in detail. Just the idea that no one, no one was found guilty is disturbing. I mean it’s obvious; someone did something wrong and 3 people died. It is someone’s responsibility.
     
  16. Andre Bijelic

    Andre Bijelic Stunt Coordinator

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    I read the book about the incident and trial, "Outrageous Conduct", some years ago and came away with the impression that charging Landis and company with manslaughter was excessive. They should have received some kind of punishment for illegally hiring children and placing them in a potentially dangerous sitution, but the accident itself seemed to stem from a lack of communication between the director, the effects team and the pilot. And frankly, the director's job is to tell the effects technicians what he wants - it's up to the effects team to find a safe way to do that, or to tell the director that it can't be done on set.

    I also have little doubt that what Landis did wasn't exactly uncommon, which is probably why he wasn't shunned by Hollywood after the accident - a lot of producers and directors must have thought: "there, but by the grace of God, go I..."

    Cetainly, Landis' movies were never the same afterwards, though I still have a fondness for "Into the Night" and "Innocent Blood".
     
  17. chris winters

    chris winters Second Unit

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    I think much of the frustration comes from Landis egotistical conduct throughtout the trial, and after the incident. The director runs the show, and if it goes great, he gets the kudos, and if people die, he should get the blame. The buck stops there, as they say. If he hired technicians who made mistakes, then he hired the wrong technicians, or hired thr wrong people who hired the technicians, or created an environment where they werent able to do their jobs properly. Again, the buck stops with Landis. He wanted everything bigger, and better, and somtimes, especially when your a hired hand on a set, its not the easiest environemnt in which you can say," no, sorry john, its just not safe". Common sense seems to indicate that having one man carrying 2 children, through water, dodgeing huge, very real, explosions, in the rain, and all the while watching for a helicopter would be a bit careless. Whether or not Landis was directly responcable, he shares at least some of the blame, if only becuase of his position on the set. The captain goes down with the ship as they say. And in the end, noone was legally punished, and no carears even tarnished. If manslaughter is a bit heavy handed, it seems the punishment that was doled out was a bit lenient to say the least. Imagine being the parent of one of the kids, where a favor for a friend turns into a real life vietnam war nightmare before your eyes. Would you resent the director for not explaining the whole situation clearly, underselling the danger factor, and/or not making the right decisions? Even if nothing had happend, would the kids really have had a pleasant experience. The whole set was probably scary as hell, full of fire, and storms, a real helicopter, and explosions, as well as faux gunfire. They would have been terrified, and tramatized for there immortal 5 mintutes of fame. A director is supose to know better, even if the families jusgement is clouded by thoughts of being part of hollywood.
     
  18. Marvin Richardson

    Marvin Richardson Supporting Actor

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    By that rationale, why not blame the producer or the studio?
     
  19. chris winters

    chris winters Second Unit

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    in some ways the studio should share blame. John Landis's job was to be completely in charge of the set at all times. If he delegates tasks to experts of specific fields, that does not mean he reliquishes responcability for the decisions his underlings may make. Thats why hes paid millions of dollar, to run and deliver a movie that makes money for the studio. Decisions that Landis made directly contributed to the resulting accident. For that he should be punished, maybe not manslaughter, but somthing. Imagine a manager of a clothing factory not being responcable for the death of an employee while using a machine to make tee-shirts, after the machine undergoes a freak malfunction. Now imagine it taking place in the middle of the night, under very harsh conditions. Now imagine that employee was hired illegally,and being only 6 years old. The manager, the company, and the parent companies would all be somwhat guilty, of....somthing
     
  20. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Screenwriter

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    I agree with Marvin- under the rationale that you are using Chris I would think the producers would be much more responsible. The producers determine who is hired. Was Landis also a producer on Twilight Zone? Even then, the guys he hired were all certified professionals so I can hardly find fault with their hiring practices.

    After reading the document listed at the top I can genuinely say that I'm happy I wasn't on that jury. Its an awful situation but I can't say I could find any one person more culpable than most.
     

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