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John Milius

King Conan: Crown of Iron (2005)
Texas Rangers (2001)
Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Geronimo - An American Legend (1993)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Red Dawn (1984)
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Apocalypse Now
Big Wednesday (1978)
The Wind and the Lion (1975)
Dillinger (1973)
Magnum Force
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Dirty Harry (1971) (uncredited)
Evel Knievel (1971)
Devil's 8, The (1969)
Emperor, The (1967)
Glut (1967)
Reversal of Richard Sun, The (1966)

A relatively unsung but significant figure in American film since the 1970s, this self-described "Zen fascist" made a name for himself as a writer and director of violent and often pretentious action fare that stresses issues of honor, anarchism, nonconformity and the therapeutic aspects of warfare. If Oliver Stone can be said to represent the paranoid left wing of Hollywood, then Milius is certainly his over-the-top right wing equivalent. Though he has had substantial experience as a producer and director, Milius first made an impact as a screenwriter and uncredited script doctor on such memorable 70s genre films as Don Siegel's "Dirty Harry" (1971), "Jeremiah Johnson" and John Huston's "The Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean" (both 1972), "Magnum Force" (1973) and Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" (1975). For the latter, he provided Robert Shaw's memorable monologue about a shark attack on the survivors of a WWII battle. More recently, Milius enjoyed one of his rare blockbuster successes as the co-scripter of "Clear and Present Danger" (1994).

As a writer-director, Milius crafts luridly dark comic book movies that convey both passion and ideological incoherence, but he stages action scenes with rare authority. His films display a problematic nostalgia for unfashionable notions about chivalry, noble savages and weaponry. These qualities may be most egregiously expressed in "Red Dawn" (1984), an outrageous drama about a Soviet/Cuban invasion of middle America; "Farewell to the King" (1989), wherein Nick Nolte is hailed as a god by misguided natives in WWII-era Borneo; and "Flight of the Intruder" (1991), a poorly received war drama set in 1973 in the South China Sea. Liberal reviewers find Milius' vision more palatable when refracted through the sensibilities of more ambivalent directors such as Francis Ford Coppola ("Apocalypse Now" 1979) and Walter Hill ("Geronimo: An American Legend" 1993). His one great commercial success as a director was "Conan the Barbarian" (1982). Co-written with Stone, this portentous adaptation of the comic book did healthy box office, enhanced Arnold Schwarzenegger's status as a leading man and spawned a sequel, "Conan the Destroyer" (1984).

Milius has also enjoyed a rather quirky career as a producer, overseeing (and often providing stories) for such diverse fare as Spielberg's wacky "1941" and "Hardcore" (both 1979), Paul Schrader's distinctive take on "The Searchers" set in the world of pornography as well as Robert Zemeckis' good-natured "Used Cars" (1980).

An irrepressible self-mythologizer, Milius is a notably colorful interview subject. Through his own accounts and those of his very powerful friends and associates (e.g., Coppola, Spielberg, Zemeckis, and George Lucas), Milius' significance in recent American film history becomes readily apparent. He is also one of the very few contemporary Hollywood screenwriters who can claim to be a genuine auteur.

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