Plot: Often mentioned among the best screenwriters in cinema history, John Milius is just as well known for his larger than life persona and outspoken demeanor as his remarkable scripts. In this piece, the life and career of Milius are explored in depth, letting us see inside the processes behind both his writing techniques and how he carried himself in the business. He was part of an incredible circle of filmmaking friends that included George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese, among others, writing such movies as Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn, Conan the Barbarian, Dirty Harry, Dillinger, and more. As talented as he was, his sometimes outlandish antics would land him on the outside of the business and in his view, caused him to be black listed by Hollywood. You’ll hear from Milius in his own words, his peers, and even his family, to provide some insight into this one of a kind filmmaker.
Entertainment Value: Even in a world filled with huge personalities like Hollywood, a bombastic presence like John Milius stands out. His persona was of a old school man’s man, the kind of man who would pull out a handgun during a business meeting and was disappointed he wasn’t able to serve in Vietnam. As you can imagine, this kind of person stood out like a sore thumb in the movie business, but that didn’t stop him from building a remarkable career. In this documentary, his career is examined movie by movie, with first hand accounts from Milius himself, as well as his peers and colleagues. It was insightful to listen to Milius discuss his creative process and inspirations, as well as the road he took to reach the movie business. In addition to stories about the shoots and writing process involved, this documentary looks at the business side of things, such as how Milius dealt with producers and other executives. This is presented as a warts and all type take, so it is by no means a vanity piece.
While Milius himself has a lot to talk about here, a lot of other interviews are also featured, with some of the biggest names in cinema. Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese, and other directors like Randall Kleiser were close with Milius during and after film school, so they have a lot of insight into the man, his writing skills, and the persona he crafted for himself. As you can imagine, hearing candid stories from filmmakers of this level is a treat and this movie has quite a few, including Spielberg related how Milius wrote a crucial Jaws moment over the phone. Others interviewed include Milius’ son, some production staff that worked with him, and various actors and filmmakers, all well known names. I especially liked the Sam Elliott interviews, while Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger also have some good stories. This is a well made, informative piece that takes us inside the career of one of Hollywood’s true mavericks and legends. So if you have an interest in how films are made and the filmmakers who make it happen, Milius is worth a look.