Film Directors on Directing

By John Andrew Gallagher | Go to book overview

John Milius

The great American tradition of larger-than-life narrative filmmaking best embodied by John Ford, Howard Hawks, and John Huston lives on in the screenplays and films of John Milius. Like these veteran directors, Milius favors full-blooded characterizations, vigorous action, and a moralistic code of honor, rooted in his love for history and traditional story-telling. John Milius was born on April 11, 1944, in St. Louis, Missouri, and raised in California. and attended Los Angeles City College and the USC Film School, where he won an International Student Film Festival Award for an animated short, and bonded with another future filmmaker, George Lucas.

Milius is above all a spinner of yarns, and after breaking into the business co-scripting The Devil's Eight ( 1969) with Willard Huyck and doing some uncredited work on the screenplay for Little Fauss and Big Halsy ( 1970), he rose to become one of Hollywood's top screenwriters. He contributed to Dirty Harry ( 1971) and wrote its sequel, Magnum Force ( 1973), as well as the original screenplays Jeremiah Johnson ( 1972), directed by Sydney Pollack, and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean ( 1973), directed by John Huston. In 1979, Milius shared an Academy Award nomination with Francis Coppola for Apocalypse Now, based on a script he had written ten years earlier.

As Millus became one of the industry's highest priced screenwriters, he was able to parlay his status into the opportunity to direct his first feature, the low-budget gangster film Dillinger ( 1973). His second directing effort, The Wind and the Lion ( 1975) was high adventure in the vein of Gunga Din ( 1939) and Lawrence of Arabia ( 1962), and enabled the writer-director to dramatize an incident in the presidential career of one of his long-time heroes, Theodore Roosevelt. Big Wednesday ( 1978) was an underrated surfing saga, Conan the Barbarian ( 1982) a tremendously popular adventurefantasy based on the Robert E. Howard pulp character, Red Dawn ( 1984), a cautionary action drama abort a Soviet attack on the United States, and

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Film Directors on Directing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface and Acknowledgments ix
  • John G. Avildsen 1
  • Tony Bill 21
  • Michael Cimino 37
  • Abel Ferrara 49
  • James Glickenhaus 57
  • Menahem Golan 75
  • Stuart Gordon 89
  • Ulu Grosbard 101
  • Anthony Harvey 115
  • Dennis Hopper 127
  • Ted Kotcheff 141
  • Adrian Lyne 159
  • John Milius 169
  • Alan Parker 183
  • Franc Roddam 195
  • Mark Rydell 209
  • Susan Seidelman 221
  • Joan Micklin Silver 231
  • James Toback 241
  • FrançOis Truffaut 259
  • Wim Wenders 269
  • Bibliography 279
  • Index 283
  • About the Author 301
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