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John Milius


fredbaetz
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I just watched one of the better docus on a great, IMHO, film maker John Milius. This is streaming on NETFLIX and I had never heard of this documentary before. If it's been discussed here before, I some how missed it. If not , then do yourself a favor and check out this film, 

From "Apocalypse Now" to "The Wind and the Lion" { one of my all-time favorite films } and everything in between. A very interesting look at a very interesting and complex man. Anyone who loves movies or just likes them should watch this piece on one of the great storytellers in the history of films....

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I just watched one of the better docus on a great, IMHO, film maker John Milius. This is streaming on NETFLIX and I had never heard of this documentary before. If it's been discussed here before, I some how missed it. If not , then do yourself a favor and check out this film, 

From "Apocalypse Now" to "The Wind and the Lion" { one of my all-time favorite films } and everything in between. A very interesting look at a very interesting and complex man. Anyone who loves movies or just likes them should watch this piece on one of the great storytellers in the history of films....

 

 

Roy,

 

I'm with you. Big John is one of my favorites and I adore The Wind and the Lion. He taught at SC back in the early 1980s and I sat in on his classes just to hear his stories!

 

Will definitely have to check out the documentary!

 

Thanks for the heads up and don't forget, he wrote The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean!

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I wonder which where his own lines in "Apocalypse Now".

 

I always remember many of the famous lines which often summed up complex situations with just a few words, such as "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," and "Never get out of the boat," and "Saigon... ****; I'm still only in Saigon... Every time I think I'm gonna wake up back in the jungle."

 

"Home....... When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle. I'm here a week now... waiting for a mission... getting softer. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger. Each time I looked around the walls moved in a little tighter."

 

"No wonder Kurtz put a weed up Command's ***. The war was being run by a bunch of four star clowns who were gonna end up giving the whole circus away."

 

Dennis Hopper's weird dialogue is some of the oddest I've ever heard in any film, but back in the late 1960s, when I lived in San Francisco, I used to hear ston*ed hippies talking just like that.

 

I assume it was Coppola who decided to do Willard's narration with Martin Sheen's mouth close to the microphone. A lot of non-technicians do not notice this technique. It allows Willard to speak softly, almost in a whisper, yet be fully understood since the gain was turned up loud during recording. Martin Sheen actually was speaking almost in a whisper. This technique was good to show us what he was thinking to himself, and at the same time tell us in the audience as if he were whispering the confidential information to us. This technique was used in some noir film narration in the late 1940s.

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I wonder which where his own lines in "Apocalypse Now".

 

I always remember many of the famous lines which often summed up complex situations with just a few words, such as "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," and "Never get out of the boat," and "Saigon... ****; I'm still only in Saigon... Every time I think I'm gonna wake up back in the jungle."

 

"Home....... When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle. I'm here a week now... waiting for a mission... getting softer. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger. Each time I looked around the walls moved in a little tighter."

 

"No wonder Kurtz put a weed up Command's ***. The war was being run by a bunch of four star clowns who were gonna end up giving the whole circus away."

 

Dennis Hopper's weird dialogue is some of the oddest I've ever heard in any film, but back in the late 1960s, when I lived in San Francisco, I used to hear ston*ed hippies talking just like that.

 

 

Fred,

 

Big John wrote many of your favorite lines from that film.

 

Here he is talking about it in a discussion with someone from the Writers Guild  of America:

 

 

And here is a site where he talks to Coppola about it. It looks like one of the videos on the page is no longer available but the text gives some idea of what was in the video and the other videos are very good as well:

 

http://nofilmschool.com/2013/08/coppola-interviews-john-milius-apocalypse-now/

 

Enjoy!

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lz,

 

Thanks very much!

 

This guy is sure smart. :)

 

I never realized until now that he wrote the script.

 

 

FredC,

 

No argument from me on that! 

 

Be sure to watch the 47 minute video at the bottom of the link in my previous post. He and Francis have a terrific rapport and its a very interesting discussion!

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I saw the documentary on Epix in late March, a friend from the UK had seen it and recommended it highly. I thought that it was so good that I'd record it the next time it aired.

 

It did air again on April 1 and I tried to get a copy. No dice - from now on I'll associate this with my discovery that as of April 1, there is no recording from premium channels on Time Warner Cable in NYC. Yes, you have first copy rights, but to enjoy those rights, you have to use a company-supplied DVR.

 

I just checked, it's still airing on the Epix On Demand channel.

 

 

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Roy,

 

I'm with you. Big John is one of my favorites and I adore The Wind and the Lion. He taught at SC back in the early 1980s and I sat in on his classes just to hear his stories!

 

Will definitely have to check out the documentary!

 

Thanks for the heads up and don't forget, he wrote The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean!

Dale'

 

I'm sure you'll find the documentary worthwhile. It was interesting that he did NOT like "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean". He had given the script to Lee Marvin and Marvin got drunk and left the script and Newman got hold of it.  He though John Houston did not do right  by his script and the same went for Newman...

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lz,

 

Hearing that 47 minute interview finally answered some questions I’ve had for the past 40 years.

 

I’ll tell you the story and then you will know some new background information about "Apocalypse Now". The film we now know was almost not made at all.

 

I lived in San Francisco in the late 60s and early 70s, at a time when Coppola had his own independent Zoetrope film company based there, along with George Lucas. Word was going around among all the freelance film makers in town that Coppola was trying to develop a major film project about the Vietnam war, and it was supposed to have a lot of college radicals in it and Berkeley riots and anti-war demonstrations.

 

Well, I was filming the major anti-war riots back then, and I was the only one filming them in 35 mm Eastman Color. I used my own 35 mm B&H Eyemo. I managed to set up an appointment at Zoetrope and show some of my exciting riot films to some of the staff of Zoetrope, in their fairly large screening room, with assurances that they would get back in touch with me when their film project finally got underway.

 

That’s the last I ever heard of them because the theme of their film idea gradually changed, and that is what John Milius cleared up for me in the 47 minute interview.

 

He said the original project was something Lucas, or maybe Coppola, wanted to make in a style something like “The Battle of Algiers”, a black and white film made in a semi-documentary cinema-verite style, with both real actors in scripted parts, mixed with film of real anti-war riots. Similar also to Wexler’s “Medium Cool” style of mixing TV news footage with drama footage. The actual war footage would be kept to a minimum and shot in California.

 

I think Milius said in the interview that he is the one who talked Coppola into changing the theme to the same theme as “Heart of Darkness”, and concentrating 100% on the war, with no US domestic stuff and no American footage in it.

 

So now I finally know what happened and why the project changed formats and who was responsible for it, and why they never called me back. :)

 

I eventually sold some of my riot film to TV documentary programs.

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lz,

 

Hearing that 47 minute interview finally answered some questions I’ve had for the past 40 years.

(snip)

So now I finally know what happened and why the project changed formats and who was responsible for it, and why they never called me back. :)

 

I eventually sold some of my riot film to TV documentary programs.

 

FredC,

 

Wow! Thanks for sharing that story with us! I love that flatiron building in SF where American Zoetrope was located. It is one of my favorite buildings in the city.

 

It was Lucas who was originally going to direct Apocalypse Now and according to Big John, Lucas wanted it to be more like the Battle of Algiers.

 

Though the film came close to destroying him, I really like Coppola's original version (not a fan of the director's extended cut version, there is a reason why you listen to your editors). I saw the film on opening day at the Cinerama Dome here in the City of Angels. A friend and I got there early and were some of the first people there. Needless to say, before long, the line snaked down the street.

 

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview with Big John. He is such a great storyteller. He had a stroke a few years back and was unable to talk afterwards. 

 

I've heard conflicting reports about his recovery. I do hope that he has.

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Dale'

 

I'm sure you'll find the documentary worthwhile. It was interesting that he did NOT like "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean". He had given the script to Lee Marvin and Marvin got drunk and left the script and Newman got hold of it.  He though John Houston did not do right  by his script and the same went for Newman...

 

Roy,

 

I did not know that Lee Marvin had been offered the part in Judge Roy Bean. I really like the film and Newman in it. It's too long but it is a lot of fun in places.

 

I also like the soundtrack (except that schmaltzy Henry Mancini song- after Butch and the Kid there must have bee some unwritten rule that all westerns had to have a song interlude even if it did nothing to help the story).

 

Roddy McDowall is deliciously evil in the movie, Stacy Keach almost steals the show as Bad Bob and it is one of the first roles I think Michael Sarrazin had (back when he and Jackie Bisset were an item). It has a terrific supporting cast including Richard Farnsworth, Ned Beatty, Anthony Perkins and Steve Kanaly.

 

When I was in college one of my profs said that the script netted Big John a million dollars when he sold it. According to the prof, Big John was one of the first to net such a figure for a script back then.

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Roy,

 

I did not know that Lee Marvin had been offered the part in Judge Roy Bean. I really like the film and Newman in it. It's too long but it is a lot of fun in places.

 

I also like the soundtrack (except that schmaltzy Henry Mancini song- after Butch and the Kid there must have bee some unwritten rule that all westerns had to have a song interlude even if it did nothing to help the story).

 

Roddy McDowall is deliciously evil in the movie, Stacy Keach almost steals the show as Bad Bob and it is one of the first roles I think Michael Sarrazin had (back when he and Jackie Bisset were an item). It has a terrific supporting cast including Richard Farnsworth, Ned Beatty, Anthony Perkins and Steve Kanaly.

 

When I was in college one of my profs said that the script netted Big John a million dollars when he sold it. According to the prof, Big John was one of the first to net such a figure for a script back then.

Dale,

 

According to Milius, he had 2 prices for the script..

 

One was lower if he could direct the film.

 

The other price was higher if he wasn't allowed to direct.

 

The longer they haggled the higher the second price went. He finally sold it for 3ooK, a very high amount in 1973/73.

 

I remember seeing the film when it first opened and I liked it. I though it was not a great film and it was too long. I agree with you about the Mancini song.  The first half of the film was better. Newman was OK, I agree about the supporting roles. They were wonderful. Houston as Grizzly Adams was a hoot. The ending kind of left me up in the air..

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