John Milius

Active - 1956 - 2019  |   Born - Apr 11, 1944   |   Genres - Action, Adventure, Film, TV & Radio, Drama, War

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American director John Milius is regarded by some Hollywoodites as the living embodiment of the word "macho;" with this in mind, it is understandable that Milius would want to manifest his rugged view of the world in films after being rejected by the Marines for medical reasons. Winning a National Student Film Festival award in 1967 for I'm So Bored, a short subject filmed while the director was attending University of Southern California, Milius moved into studio work under the guidance of low-budget king Roger Corman and producer Lawrence Gordon. Milius' first major writing job was Evel Knievel (1969), a two-fisted biopic of the famed stunt driver. Other projects in the same gutsy vein followed: The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) (more introspective than most of Milius' work), Jeremiah Johnson (1972), and Magnum Force (1973). Milius' first directorial effort, Dillinger (1973), gave evidence of Roger Corman's penny-pinching influence, but the film's combination of stylistic bloodletting and strong male bonding was pure Milius. In The Wind and the Lion (1975), the director's first big-budget project, Milius took a minor incident in the history of American foreign relations and expanded it into a world-rattling mano y mano showdown between a proud Moroccan shiek and President Theodore Roosevelt. Milius shared an Oscar nomination with Francis Ford Coppola for the screenplay of Apocalypse Now (1979), though it's hard to tell from viewing that much-reshaped project who contributed what. While he continued working into the 1990s, Red Dawn, released in 1984, may well stand as Milius' most typical production: the film speculated that America's only line of defense against enemy invasion would be a legion of volatile, undisciplined, raging-hormone teenaged misfits.

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