Director-producer Tony Scott apparently committed suicide on Sunday at the age of 68. The obituary I read said he drove his car up to a bridge, got out of the car and jumped off the bridge “with no hesitation.” Reports say that he left a suicide note in the car but have not divulged the contents.
Scott is the younger brother of director Ridley Scott. They had a production company together, Scott Free, and Tony gets a producer credit on some of Ridley’s films, including the recent Prometheus. Tony never received the same critical respect as his brother – he never received any Oscar nominations – but in my opinion his films were consistently entertaining. Here’s a few of the films he directed:
The Hunger – an extraordinarily stylish vampire movie starring Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon and David Bowie.
Top Gun – one of the biggest grossing films of all time, Tom Cruise at the height of his career.
True Romance – The first Quentin Tarantino screenplay to be produced and an amazing cast. I’ve watched this film 20 times, mostly because Scott does something here that should have been impossible: a scene between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken that not only doesn’t disappoint, it surpasses expectations.
Enemy of the State – Pairing Will Smith and Gene Hackman, with a subtle nod to Coppola’s The Conversation, this was a big step in Smith’s transition from TV star to movie star.
Man On Fire – Just one of many films that Scott made starring Denzel Washington, I think this marks when Scott went into his “over the top” period, lots of quick cutting, different film stocks, words on screen in different fonts – it’s a B movie but it’s a satisfying B movie.
Scott’s last 3 films all starred Denzel – Deja Vu, the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3, Unstoppable.
Whatever the reason that led to this, Scott leaves behind a solid legacy.
Also gone – William Windom, whom most of you will not know, a great character actor who won an Emmy starring in a great sitcom that no one saw (but I loved it), My World and Welcome To It, based on the works of James Thurber. IMDB lists 252 titles for him, mostly guest appearances in TV series. He was in everything – from Gunsmoke to the Partridge Family to Mission Impossible to Star Trek. He made his film debut in To Kill a Mockingbird. Possibly his greatest fame was as a regular on Murder She Wrote.
Ron Palillo, the actor who played Horshack on Welcome Back Kotter, died last week. He was so good in that role that he had trouble finding work afterwards. He did okay in New York off Broadway shows in the 90s but he ended up as a high school drama teacher in Florida. It seems that he was more successful in love; he was with the same guy for 41 years.
Also gone is Scott McKenzie – a one-hit wonder whose one hit has seemingly never gone away – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair). McKenzie had been in a band with John Phillips before Phillips formed the Mamas & the Papas; Phillips was the writer of McKenzie’s sole hit. McKenzie turned down a spot in the original Mamas & Papas but later joined them in the 80′s and also co-wrote the Beach Boy’s Kokomo.