John Landis - what happened to a great career?

Patrick Mirza

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What exactly happened to derail John Landis' career as an A-list director?
I mean, for a long time there the man could do no wrong! Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House, The Blues Brothers, American Werewolf, Coming Soon (yes, I really liked it!), Twilight Zone (I won't even go into that backstory...), Trading Places, Thriller, ...Into the Night (a minor classic, IMO), Spies Like Us, 3 Amigos, Amazon Women (pure genius!!), Coming To America and even HBO's fantastic 'Dream On'.
For cryin' out loud, will you look at that filmography! I love every one of those films!
But then, somewhere around Oscar (1990), things began to slip. I liked Innocent Blood more than most people, but Beverly Hills Cop III?!? What was that all about???
After that you have one bad film after another (Blues Brothers 2000 anyone???), until you get to his last film in '98 (Susan's Plan - Dying to Get Rich) that I was shocked to have never even heard of until tonight!
What happened? Why did someone with such a sharp sense of what good projects to make suddenly go so flat??
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Alex Spindler

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Perhaps some people are a product of their times, and found himself a fish out of water in the 90s. I've seen several people who never fully made the transition and never found a place.
 

BarryR

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It's amazing how any director can sustain a steady career, given the myriad vagaries of the film biz! of course there are a few exceptions.

[Edited last by BarryR on October 28, 2001 at 08:13 AM]
 

Peter Kim

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I, too was a big fan. I may be horribly wrong on this, but I recall a tragic incident on one of his movie sets. As a result, there was one or more deaths, and John was branded culpable. I think he might have even spent some time in jail.
It's not a coincidence that his precipitous decline runs parallel to this tragedy. Obviously, he must be battling his own, internal demons as a result of the accident. And also, those of Hollywood...
Probably doesn't help that Michael Jackson's career has been a bust since the early to mid-90's.
Work, wonder, rest when you can.
 

Michael Reuben

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too was a big fan. I may be horribly wrong on this, but I recall a tragic incident on one of his movie sets. As a result, there was one or more deaths, and John was branded culpable. I think he might have even spent some time in jail.
The movie was The Twilight Zone. Actor Vic Morrow and two children were killed when a helpicopter crashed. Along with several others, Landis was criminally charged, but he was acquitted by a jury. Several of his biggest successes postdated the trial.

M.

[Edited last by Michael Reuben on October 31, 2001 at 08:14 AM]
 

Gavin K

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To quote Mr. Landis personally, "Cop 3 was a complete whore job."
And in my opinion it is absolutely hysterical. Pure absurdity.
And then he followed with one of his funniest movies ever, The Stupids. Again vastly underrated, and poorly marketed. This movie kept me laughing for three weeks after I first saw it, and I still find myself laughing out loud whenever it comes on TV. (Can't wait for the DVD.)
Add to these films his numerous producing credits and he has kept pretty busy, despite not being very active as a director lately.
 

Gavin K

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Also, by the way, Carpenter still rocks. Do a search, there was a thread discussing him a few months ago.
 

Matt Butler

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Carpenter is still awesome as well as Landis.
(Why do I feel Im the only one who liked Ghosts of Mars or Vampires?)
 

MickeS

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Excuse me, but Carpenter and Landis weren't even in the same league to begin with. Landis had several successful movies, Carpenter has made some good movies, but they were never really big hits. IMO.
/Mike
 

Michael Reuben

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Carpenter has made some good movies, but they were never really big hits. IMO.
By any standard, Halloween was an enormous hit. A $47 million gross for a 1978 movie -- especially one not from a major studio -- is huge. In many ways, it was one of the first "indie" films.
M.
 

Anthony Hom

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His career took a nosedive when he did a guest shot in the TV sitcom, Caroline In The City in the mid 90's. He appeared with Robbie Benson. Enough said?
 

andrew markworthy

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Sorry to disagree with the general sentiment of this thread, but with the exception of American Werewolf and Trading Places (which were passable, but hardly great) I don't like a single movie Landis has made.
 

Barry S

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I'm a big fan of John Landis, and it is indeed dissappointing to the see how lackluster his output has become. The same thing has happened to John Hughes, who was once making great movies, now in the 90s, he has resorted to writing and producing Disney crap like Flubber and 101 Dalmations. He hasn't even directed a movie since Curly Sue ten years ago.
By the way, what is "Coming Soon"? Is that another name for Landis' 1973 film "Schlock"?
 

Seth Paxton

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I thought it started around Spies Like Us in which much of the humor was ruined ENTIRELY due to the direction. Many potentially hilarious moments were heavily dampened by bad editing and direction, poor choices in take length, etc. Just bad comedic setup direction.
Same with 3 Amigos. I think both films have strength now due to the performers and cable runs that are more forgiving.
However, I think that Oscar is a wonderful film and one of the only good things Stallone has done in years (save Copland). It reminds me of the great comedy dialog found in things like His Girl Friday or Bringing Up Baby.
I think the Hughes comparison is really valid. Both seem to be a product of their time somewhat, in terms of style/humor. Both fell off around the same time frame. Both had HUGE hits then went to nothing.
As for only liking American Werewolf and Trading Places, what about Animal House and Blues Brothers? I would say those are both better than AWiL and TP actually, both in entertainment and filmmaking qualities.
I honestly have to say that hearing that ANYONE thought BHCop 3 wasn't some Clockwork Orange torture session amazes me. Not just bad, but really bad. Landis should not be running second place to Bruckheimer for chrissake. THAT is a big trouble indicator.
Of course, I felt similar with regards to Vampires and Escape from LA (speaking of JCs fall off), so YMMV I guess.
 

Gavin K

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I met John Landis briefly a ew years ago, and the above quote was in response to my complementing Cop 3 for its sheer absurdity. He was quick to dismiss the film. So I guess I'm the only person in the world who actually liked the movie, including the director.

The whole ferris wheel bit, (First George Lucas, then looking down and seeing the characters, then the laughing kid, and the whole cheesy synth score), that stupid train and theme song in the end, Judge Reinhold's over the top caricature, the always great Hector Elizondo. Plot-wise it sucked, but in the little details it had me in stitches.
 

Kevin M

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Coming Soon is not available on DVD, but I think Universal would be smart to release this one along with their 1984 theatrical release Terror in the Aisles together.
Or for that matter how about It Came From Hollywood!.
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Scott Weinberg

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Good call there. It Came from Hollywood! is a Paramount title that benefits from having some rather entertaining little skits from John Candy, Gilda Radner, Dan Ayrkord and Cheech & Chong. It was co-directed by Andrew Solt, who has gone on to helm a lot of different biography/compilation films, inlcuding several of the "clip packages" that appear on the Academy Awards each year.
This is one I'd definitely get if it ever hit DVD!
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