Monday, August 20, 2012

R.I.P. Tony Scott (1944-2012)

It was widely reported this morning that on August 19, 2012 Hollywood director and producer Tony Scott died at age 68. The British-born director jumped to his death from the Vincent Thomas Bridge near Long Beach, Calif. according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Officials said a suicide note was found in his car. 

Scott started his filmmaking career with his older brother Ridley making award-winning commercials. They formed a production company together, Scott Free Productions. Scott is responsible for some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster hits.

He was best known for directing the Tom Cruise Navy flying thriller “Top Gun” in 1986. His distinctive style included his knack for lighting his films as if they all took place during the “magic hour”, when the setting sun shrouds everything in a golden light.

His Hollywood career began when he was tapped to lend his magic hour atmosphere to the to the moody vampire thriller “The Hunger” in 1983. He went on to become an action thriller specialist, producing a string of hit movies within the Hollywood system, including “Beverly Hills Cop II” (1987), “Days of Thunder” (1990), “The Last Boy Scout” (1991), “Enemy of the State” (1998), and “Spy Game” (2001).

He directed an early script for Quentin Tarantino in 1993. He made a key change to Tarantino’s script for “True Romance” by having the protagonist survive the bloody final firefight. He also employed Tarantino as an uncredited punch-up screenwriter on one of his best films “Crimson Tide” (1995). This film also marked the first of his five collaborations with his favorite star Denzel Washington. He also directed Washington in “Man on Fire” (2004), “Déjà vu” (2006), “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” (2009), and his final film “Unstoppable” (2010).

Scott also enjoyed a successful turn as a television producer. He executive produced the award-winning HBO movies “RKO 281” (1999) and “The Gathering Storm” (2002). Along with his upcoming mini-series production of “Coma” for A&E, he also produced the popular “The Pillars of the Earth” mini-series for Starz Network in 2010. He served as executive producer on the successful CBS crime drama “Numbers” (2005-2010) and the critically lauded “The Good Wife” (2009-present) also for CBS.

Throughout his film career Scott continued to direct highly stylized commercials and music videos. He suffered few disappointments in his Hollywood career. Directorially his 1996 film “The Fan”, about a major league baseball fan who takes things a little too far after he’s dismissed by his favorite player, was his only notable flop.

Scott’s films were generally thought to be more commercial than his older brother’s. He was often a sure bet at the box office. His influence can be felt on a generation of filmmakers that emulated his distinct cinematographic style, and he consistently worked with the top talents in the film business. Although, he was never a widely critically acclaimed artist, his films leave a powerful mark on the Hollywood blueprint. His presence as an artistic force will be missed. He leaves behind a cinematic legacy.

We at A Penny in the Well offer our condolences for Scott's surviving family at this difficult time.

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