Rumor has it the Coen Brothers fashioned character Walter Sobchak played by John Goodman in The Big Lebowski after John Milius. With quotes like these, it’s easy to see why:
You know that line in “Dirty Harry” in which Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan describes the power of the .44 Magnum? John Milius wrote that line.
Remember the line in “Jaws” when Robert Shaw, playing the shark hunter, talks about his buddies being eaten alive by sharks during World War II? That was Milius.
How about the line in “Apocalypse Now,” when Robert Duvall, playing a surf-loving Army colonel, says, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”?
And he hasn’t lost his bold way with dialogue — including his own.
For example, here’s Milius on stopping murderous drug traffickers in Mexico: “We need to go down there, kill them all, flatten the place with bulldozers so when you wake up in the morning, there’s nothing there,” he said in a phone interview. “I do believe if you have a military, you use it.”
It’s funny that I read this today because John Milius has been on my mind the last few months. My friends and I have a movie club where we pick movies to watch together. We first chose Red Dawn and we were tasked with deciding whether or not the movie was fascist. I think in the end we found it to be very pro-NRA with elements of fascism certainly but possibly not entirely fascist. I recommend watching it again with a critical eye and you’ll surely see the moments where Patrick Swayze argues against democracy and a gun is literally pulled out of a dead guy’s hand in front of a bumper sticker that says “I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands.” Ah, subtlety.
We had so much fun watching Red Dawn that our next movie was Milius’ Conan the Barbarian. A far better movie than Red Dawn, Conan still has the Milius’ touches like the line spoken by Arnold Schwarzenegger “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.” I think he was saying he liked doing that.
The DVD extras for Conan were a little sad for Milius. He envisioned a trilogy and created many of the mythological aspects himself. Perhaps it could have been a pre-Lord of the Rings mythological trilogy, but due to Dino DeLaurentiis (the producer’s) idiocy the sequel was wrested from Milius when DeLaurentiis thought he could create a child’s movie like Star Wars complete with Conan toys in the stores. That pretty much killed any hope for a trilogy. It’s not really surprising considering that DeLaurentiis was stupid enough to give away the character of Hannibal Lecter away free to Jonathan Demme who made a fortune off The Silence of the Lambs. Realizing his mistake, he then tried to cash in making such stupid films like Hannibal and Red Dragon . But I digress.
The article about Milius is a good one, so I recommend reading it in full. He’s an interesting guy. I may not always agree with him, but he’s certainly a hoot.