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

The film world received some shocking and upsetting news yesterday, as we learned that iconic filmmaker Tony Scott had taken his own life at the age of 68. The Top Gun director apparently left a suicide note in his car before jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles; he is survived by his third wife, Donna, and their two children. British-born Scott was a force in Hollywood for nearly 30 years, starting off in commercials before making his debut on the stylish but critically panned vampire movie The Hunger. Critical praise would continue to elude Scott — who was often dismissed (sometimes fairly) as a popcorn filmmaker — but he found box office gold when he teamed with producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson on films such as Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II and Days of Thunder. He struck the sweet spot between strong earnings and reviews several times in his career, most noticeably on Crimson Tide, Enemy of the StateMan on Fire and Unstoppable. Those are all fine films, but my favourite of Scott’s is his 1993 film True Romance, which was responsible for introducing the world at large to its talented (pre-Pulp Fiction) writer Quentin Tarantino. That film features countless quotable scenes, a dynamite ensemble cast, and Scott’s most assured direction, and it remains one of my most formative movies. [I also highly rate his 2002 BMW short Beat the Devil]. While his own work was largely action-oriented, Scott had diverse tastes and alongside his elder filmmaking brother, Ridley (AlienBlade Runner), he supported young talent with their production company Scott Free. Some of the films and TV shows he oversaw include: In Her Shoes, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert FowardCyrusThe GreyNumb3rs and The Good Wife, and at the time of his death he had over 30 projects in development including his Top Gun 2, Ridley’s Prometheus 2, and Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace (which will be his final credit). It’s difficult to imagine how such a successful, prolific and well-liked man — Denzel Washington worked with him five times — could be driven to such a dark place, and my thoughts are with his family and friends. I’ll readily admit that his hyper-active, bombastic directorial style was often hit-and-miss for me, but I always had respect for Scott’s craftsmanship and his contribution to film has been significant and influential. His loss will be sorely felt. Read below for a round-up of Twitter reactions to Scott’s passing, as well as a collection of clips from highlights throughout his career.

[UPDATE] ABC News are reporting that Tony Scott had inoperable brain cancer.

[UPDATE] Ridley Scott has suspended shooting The Counselor in the wake of his brother’s death (via The Hollywood Reporter).

[UPDATE] Director Edgar Wright recently shared some memories of Tony Scott on his blog. Read an excerpt below:

Both this film [Domino] and ‘Man On Fire’ influenced my own ‘Hot Fuzz’. I always admired that fact that an English director from Tyneside was twice as bombastic as the American directors of his generation. The central premise of my movie was a big ‘What If’; the question being what if Tony Scott had to make a film in sleepy old England again…

Aping some of Tony’s style in ‘Hot Fuzz’ just made me appreciate his talents even more. Breaking his films down to analyse them, I was even more aware of the staggering amount of work that had gone into the locations, lighting, operating, editing and sound design. He didn’t get anywhere near the credit for his talents as an artist.

I actually edited ‘Hot Fuzz’ using the ‘Man On Fire’ score as a temp track, so in my addled memories there’s always a lost version of my film still scored to ‘The Drop’ and ‘Bullet Tells The Truth’ by Harry Gregson Williams.

Below you can find a collection of Twitter reactions to Scott’s passing, including fond remembrances from those who knew him and tributes from those who admired his work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch the incredible opening sequence to Scott’s 1983 debut film The Hunger below, starring David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve.

Watch Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken’s unforgettable exchange in True Romance below.

Watch Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington lock horns in the 1995 submarine actioner Crimson Tide below.

Watch the trailer for the cracking 1998 espionage thriller Enemy of the State below, starring Will Smith and Gene Hackman [Incidentally, considered by many as a quasi-sequel to Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation].

Watch a clip from the underrated 2000 thriller Spy Game below, starring Brad Pitt and Robert Redford.

Watch the trailer for the pulpy 2004 revenge flick Man on Fire below, featuring another strong turn by Denzel Washington.

Watch Beat the Devil — Scott’s hugely entertaining 2002 contribution to the BMW Short Film series — below, starring Clive Owen, Gary Oldman and James Brown.

Watch Scott reflect on his career in a 2010 interview with Film 4 below.

Watch the trailer for Scott’s final film — the preposterous yet undeniably enjoyable Unstoppable — below, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.

Rest in peace, Tony.

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