John Landis : Biggest rise and fall?

Biggest rise and fall?

John Landis made some of my favorite movies of all time.

I was looking at his filmography and was amazed at how successful he was, at such a young age. His run from 1978-1985 has to be one of the fastest and biggest of any modern director.

And we all know what happened after, in the late 80s. Lack of quality scripts, Hollywood director jail, a shift from his style of comedy- whatever the reasons, his career pretty much sank.

Same thing with John Carpenter. Hugely talented, massively successful at a young age.

What is it? Is it that they run out of steam? Is directing a young man's career?

I am curious to hear thoughts- I am sure there are many other examples of fast rises/surprising falls.

Just to clarify: I hope this does not come across as patronizing in any way. I consider Landis and Carpenter to be two of the most gifted and exciting filmmakers, ever. I am just baffled and saddened by their career trajectories, that's all.

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

I think most popular entertainment artists rise and fall and sometimes rise again and sometimes not. I'm not sure that Landis ran out of steam, since both his last movie and Deer Woman were great, but Carpenter certainly did. Besides, they're very different creative forces.

John Carpenter is famous for his unique brand of horror that he kept honing for the first part of his career, but after he sidetracked into doing a big studio movie that is Memoirs of an Invisible Man (which is one of my favourites of his), he started losing the grip on his own style with each subsequent feature, so that they were becoming vague approximations of what once was, not that some of them weren't good. I haven't seen the Ward yet, but judging from the people's feedback it seems he gave up and just did it to put something out there, I can't see how this movie could be personal to him anyway.

Now Landis is like a black hole of movie knowledge, I find that all of his movies are different and even in the lesser ones there's at least something good there, something fresh. The Stupids and Beverly Hills Cop 3 took a lot of flack and not much $ in the box office, but they're still fun to watch. But he's still working, he never stopped actually. To me that means he's genuinely interested in filmmaking and that 111c 's why I think he's still got it.

have a nice life!

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

I would say the biggest rise and fall is Roland Joffe. At one point he seemed like the next David Lean, with The Killing Fields and The Mission, two of the most sweeping and beautiful films of the last 30 years. Then he went and followed it with Super Mario Bros. and The Scarlett Letter.

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

You win!!! :)

That's so true. And s 16d0 o sad.

Although... let's be objective. The only flat-out disasters Joffe' has been involved in are Captivity and You and I.

The Scarlet Letter, even though it is definitely a terrible film, was not an embarrassing venture in and of itself. Gary Oldman in a period piece. Not a bad idea.

And I can't pin Super Mario Bros. on Joffe' either. He came on as an uncredited director.

Coppola was the uncredited director on Supernova but we don't think of it as his film.

Great directors in the 30s and 40s often did uncredited work on huge films, including some classics- and sometimes on some awful films that needed salvaging.

Anyway- looking at Joffe's IMDB slate it looks like he might be in for a comeback.

I will be cheering him on from the sidelines.

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

I thought the films he made between 1991-1998 after his partnership with George Folsey seemed to be completely different, the humour not as well timed and the films feeling very small and flat.

Beverly Hills Cop felt like the nadir to me. Deborah Nadoolman didn't even do the costumes (or at least she's not credited for them). It does I feel still have it's moments though.

I have felt however that the 2000s onwards he has returned very much to form. Landis' direction of the Shawshank spoof viral alone is in my opinion some of the best comedy of the last decade, the Masters of Horror episodes were pretty perfect, the two documentaries he made were effortlessly entertaining and Burke and Hare I thought was really special.

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

In Landis's case, I'm sure the Twilight Zone tragedy didn't help his career.

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Re: The Twilight Zone tragedy didn't detract

Probably effect the Twilight Zone had on his career was that Spielberg disowned him, so they didn't have a lasting relationship like Spielberg had with Dante.

Re: The Twilight Zone tragedy didn't detract

He did have box office hits, and many from the old SNL were loyal to him and called him to direct projects. Working with Eddie Murphy really helped. But you can argue that those films don't have the mad, visionary genius "thing" that Animal House, The Blues Brothers or An American Werewolf in London had. At the time before the disaster, he was almost on par with Speilberg, Lucas, etc. His later films were shot a little more cautiously. To be fair, though, he music videos were brilliant and seemed to have his signature especially in Thriller.

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Re: Biggest rise and fall?

After Twilight Zone they couldn't give him studio films for several years. He got some smaller off beat films then the Dream On series but Twilight Zone was really the end and he was never going to have an "A" list career after that. He avoided jail so he still got lucky. He got three people killed including two kids and got a middle management career instead of the A list career he might have had. If it hadn't been for Spielberg supporting him his career would have been over after Twilight Zone.

Re: Biggest rise and fall?


If it hadn't been for Spielberg supporting him his career would have been over after Twilight Zone.


Spielberg avoided him like the plague after the Twilight Zone incident and their friendship essentially ceased. With all things considering, he did fairly well throughout the 80's. The 90's was really the beginning of his career slump.

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

Two other big examples are Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas.

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

Some people, artists can shift, change with the times, others are stolid and fixed....and fall by the wayside. Eastwood, Robert Altman: old men still able to conceive/ tap their creativity. Landis became god-awful.

Re: Biggest rise and fall?


What is it? Is it that they run out of steam? Is directing a young man's career?


You can't really generalize based on the two directors you just mentioned. Steven Spielberg has had consistent success for the past 40 years and he was only 28 when Jaws was released. Different circumstances can affect different directors careers. In Carpenter's case, I believe that most of his film's post Starman were just not very good and didn't perform very well commercially.

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

I'd say Landis was the hottest director aside from Speilberg in the early 80's and then the Twilight Zone accident happened. Even though he had a five year legal bout, Landis was such a bankable director he still had big hits for the rest of the 80's.

I have to come to the conclusion that what killed Landis's career was Spielberg cutting him off. Sure, it took awhile for Landis to cool off--he was that hot of a director--but once the 90's arrived and Oscar happened he was finished. Spielberg has been able to survive some of his bombs because, well, he's Spielberg.

There's no more Hollywood anymore, there's just a bunch of banks

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

M Night Shyamalan?

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Re: Biggest rise and fall?

What about Mel Brooks? Going from The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein to Life Stinks, Robin Hood Men In Tights and Dracula Dead and Loving It, quite a fall from grace that. He has had great success in the theatre but at least in terms of movies his career absolutely died.

Michael Cimino must have had the fastest rise and fall from The Deer Hunter in 78 to Heavens Gate in 80. His career was more or less over there and then.

Billy Friedkin is a funny one as he has produced some real schlock since his 70s peak but every so often he does something which reminds you of what he is capable off. To Live and Die in LA is one of my favorite movies.

The fall of Francis Coppola was a combination probably of hubris, arrogance, over-ambition and personal tragedy. After the phenomenal success he had in the early 70s and surviving the Apocalypse Now shoot the wheels started to come off. Trying to establish American Zoetrope put him into huge debt even after the success of Godfather 1 + 2 and his career did not get back on an even keel for decades which is why he ended up directing stuff like Peggy Sue Got Married, Jack and The Rainmaker. If he had had the choice he would never have touched those projects. Lastly it seems that the tragic death of his son Gio understandably blunted his desire to make movies for a long time.

John Carpenter to me just seemed to run out of ideas around the mid 80s.

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

Great post I agree with everything you wrote. Carpenter is kind of a weird case to me, he was the main horror/fangoria/hard-r genre director who tried to branch out a little with BTILC and after it bombed he tried to do a quick turnaround with They Live and Prince of Darkness. They both looked rushed and he was never the same since.

Funny about Cimino, he did get another chance as he was originally the director of Footloose but he immediately became difficult again and the studio fired him, ending his career.

Mel Brooks: I was greatly disappointed with High Anxiety(1978), he just completely lost his mojo.



Shall we play a game?

Re: Biggest rise and fall?

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