Tuesday, July 17, 2007

After several false starts, I am now reading Final Cut, Steven Bach's account of how Heaven's Gate sunk United Artists. So far the book is highly recommended. I did take the bullet and watch Heaven's Gate a few years ago. I cannot recommend it for any reason other than its infamy. You could read the book while watching the film, and finish the book without losing track of the movie's glacially-paced storyline. Some thoughts:

*If you ever wanted a very concise history of the studio system, what it meant, and how studios failed or prospered once the system went away, it's present in the first few chapters.

*$40 million adjusted to 2006 dollars is about $107 million, which seems a pittance today.

*You'd think Vivendi would have learned from others' mistakes when it decided it wanted to go from a waste-management company to becoming a media giant a few years back. Non-media companies trying to get into the film biz were all the rage from the 60s into the 80s. UA was of course part of Transamerica. Warner Brothers was for a time part of a parking-lot and funeral home empire. The Paramount logo for years told us it was "a Gulf+Western Company" but no one seems to know what that meant. Columbia lasted just five years as "a Coca-Cola Company."

2 Comments:

Blogger Brian said...

Someone should write a book on how "The Deer Hunter," which seemed to be a good but not outstanding film, somehow made Cimino seem to be a cinematic genius to some people. The movie's reputation seems to have benefited a great deal from its treatment of the Vietnam War at a time when people hadn't seen this subject matter dealt with a great deal.

Of course, the presence of Walker, De Niro, and Streep didn't hurt either.

July 18, 2007 at 6:04 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I think I've mentioned before how I saw The Deer Hunter *after* HG, so I saw it as a wankfest on par with Heaven's Gate.

from what little I know of the Johnson County War, it's a compelling tale and could be filmed well. One of the Turner nets did a miniseries a few years back, which I keep meaning to rent.

July 19, 2007 at 7:18 AM  

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