Updated: Apr 18
Tales of a Hollywood Maverick
"He doesn't write for pussies and he doesn't write for women. He writes for men. Because he's a man." Sam Elliott
It's easy to forget how many defining films, John Milius has been involved in. Epic, brutal and laced with high octane - his stories are of a brute force and calibre that has rarely been rivaled in the history of Hollywood. His films have, for better or worse, been a result of their zeitgeist - often disposable but more than memorable; underneath their hardened exterior their subject matter begs for you to scratch at the surface to see if there is a hidden subtext. There have been misfires - non so notable as his collaboration with Spielberg on 1941 - proving, for both film makers, that if you're good at something then stick to it. If there is anything to take away from the best of his work, aside from a solid story, it is the immortal lines that have resonated onscreen - dialogue that has, at times, become more than infused in popular culture.
Despite his questionable politics (self-described right-wing extremist and 'zen anarchist'), Milius is a filmmaker worth discussion and the soon to be released documentary will no doubt provoke and entertain. Much more than the quintessential American; the accomplished surfer was unable to join the Marines due to health issues and channelled his ferocious appetite for books towards writing films instead. Whether it is the disturbing reflection of humanity's deepest and darkest recesses of the soul in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now; to hear Schwarzenegger crush his enemies and hear the lamentation of the women; or simply question our luck while we stare down the barrel of Clint Eastwood's .44 Magnum - there is a realisation that Milius' work is more prominent and resonant than you realise.
This post was first published on March 10th 2013.