Milius
Five Stars (out of five)
2013. Released by Epix Original. Running time 103 minutes. Not Rated. Equipped with subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired. This was reviewed on Netflix on April 23, 2014.

John Milius is a writer/director who started out in the same generation as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, among others. He helped re-invigorate a Hollywood that had been slowly dying in the late 1960s, with the studios having been bought by corporations that knew nothing about making movies, and it showed. Milius was already something of a legend in film school based on his student film, Marcello, I'm Bored. He rose through the ranks of Hollywood as a screenwriter with Evel Knievel and the first Dirty Harry film. His strong suit was that of a master storyteller who used realistic dialogue. He went on to write the Dirty Harry sequel, Magnum Force, as well as Jeremiah Johnson, a script that he sold for the then-unheard of amount of $300,000.

Milius soon became a director, starting with Dillinger, starring a perfectly cast Warren Oats as the 1930s outlaw John Dillinger. His second film as a writer/director was the sweeping action adventure The Wind And The Lion, a fable based on a true story that starred Sean Connery as a Berber warrior fighting the changing times that threatened to upend his world. Brian Keith was also great here as President Theodore Roosevelt. Milius would go on to direct Big Wednesday, Conan The Barbarian and the original Red Dawn (Wolverines!), but he is such a good writer that he had his hand in many pictures.

He wrote Apocalypse Now, and Coppola, who directed that classic, credits Milius for everything memorable about that film. He also did an uncredited rewrite of Robert Shaw’s famous speech about the sinking of the Indianapolis in Spielberg’s Jaws. And Sean Connery only accepted the role of Marko Ramius in The Hunt For Red October after he was assured Milius would rewrite the script for him--most notably the famous speech Connery gave about how they once more set out to play their deadly game with their old adversary, the American Navy. Milius is one of my personal faves for having made two of my all-time favorite films, The Wind and the Lion, and Conan the Barbarian.

They finally made a decent documentary about John Milius and it's called, simply, Milius. It does a splendid job in showing us what Milius the man is really like, without all the hype and hysteria that surrounds his larger than life persona, using loads of interviews from such friends as Spielberg, Coppola, George Lucas, and many others. Not yet available on DVD, I caught the documentary on Netflix, and it is highly recommended for fans of the bombastic films of John Milius. It even deals with Milius’ struggle with recuperating from his stroke. But like his characters, Milius is a fighter. Here’s hoping he'll finally make that Genghis Khan biopic that he’s been working on all these years. --SF

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