Jan 26, 2015
Here's a story about a time when the world's most prominent filmmaker fails for the first time, goes to war with the DGA, forces the hand of the MPAA, builds a franchise, makes the biggest film ever made, reinvents the action movie, and quits writing for decades. The most interesting 5 years in Stephen Spielberg's life.
Featuring Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Tobe Hooper, with cameo appearances from John Milius, Richard Matheson, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Lawrence Kasdan, Robert Zemeckis, Joe Dante, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, John Landis, Michael Cimino, and Samuel Goddamn Fuller.
I cut sections on Spielberg hiring Joe Dante in order to stop the production of Jaws 3, People 0 and Satyajit Ray claiming E.T. was stolen from a spec script that was circling around Hollywood while Spielberg was at Universal television, becuause neither of them seemed to flow nicely with the rest of the story. Also I never figured out how to fit in all the crazy stuff -- the way that Milius introduced Kathleen Kennedy to Spielberg. And Kennedy being one of the dancers at the start of Temple of Doom. The way that Milius, Spielberg, and Lucas all traded points on Star Wars, Close Encounters, and Big Wednesday. How Spielberg took a day off on E.T. to watch De Palma shoot the final gunfight for Scarface. How De Palma shot Casualties of War on all the same locations as Temple of Doom... I really love the stories of this group of people who were playing at this high level and still managed to be artists, for a while anyway. I don't know, I tried to not make it a "Jaws is awesome podcast". Jaws is the truth.
I really think this is a story of an artist finding the edge of his abilities, and an industry pushing back when he slips... but it may have descended into fanboy connections, even with cutting all the stuff listed above. I think that the reason De Palma stayed as fierce a filmmaker as he is, and Scorsese too, is that they met with a lot more consisten ups and downs than Spielberg/Lucas/Coppola, and their abilities to buy studios. They had more to lose, and kept losing every few films. Boiling it down to just those five directors leaves out how important Milius and Dante and Marcia Lucas and Amy Robinson and Paul Schrader and all the others were to the story too. Any version of "this is a cool thing that happened" leaves out the context of a dozen major and minor players left out.
Music / clips:
This episode is Sean trying to ape the style of these podcasts: Karina Longworth's You Must Remember This, the non-interview segments on The Dana Gould Hour, and The Dollop. Listen to those shows for the non-shitty version of a storytelling podcast. Next week we will be back to the tried and true 2 people talking about movies format and Sean promises to never do this much talking ever again.