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John Milius: The Craziest Writer/Director in Hollywood?

The world knows John Milius as the craziest man in Hollywood mainly because of his unconventional style of filmmaking and choosing a rather different storyline for the movies. He is an ultimate legend of the film industry and a friend to Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. Born in April 1944, John Fredrick Milius is a famous American screenplay writer, director, and also the producer of motion pictures. John Milius is also known as the Viking Man or the dog trainer.

He is one of those first few significant writers to receive an Academy Award nomination as a screenwriter. Basically, he came to prominence in the 1970’s, after he associated with Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas. Milius was one of the first film industry professionals to be a graduate from a renowned film school, after having matriculated from the University of Southern California.

However, he won the first prize at the International Student Film Festival Award, at the USC School of Cinema-Television, for his film, Marcello, I’m Bored (1970).

The Screenwriter

Other than that, he is mostly known for his conservative political beliefs, which are reflected in his movies. He became a prominent figure in the film industry after graduating from the University of Southern California. In addition to that, apart from all the movies he directed, he is still famous for producing powerful volumes of screenplays, and each of them bound in leather.

Before he joined the film school, Milius wished to become an Army officer, but fate had other plans for him, and thus, he ended up joining the film school. He was rejected from the Army school due to his asthma issues.

However, when he joined the film school in California, he did not expect anything more with his life. Two years after he joined the Film School Mafia, John Milius began writing one of the best screenplays that are appreciated by people even today. Even as a teenager, he was a fast writer who always came up with original ideas and thus, during those days, he was also known as a ‘bad boy mad genius’ who is stuck in the body of a teenager.

Due to his amazing ability to write an impressive body of screenplays, he is considered ‘the hottest screenplay writer in Hollywood’. His initial body of screenplays gave him enough confidence and experience to write further.

The initial screenplays written by John Milius include Jeremiah Johnson, Judge Roy Bean, Magnum Force, Apocalypse Now, and Dirty Harry. On the other hand, Milius said that he was initially influenced by his teacher Irwin Blacker.

This acclaimed writer and director is well-known in today’s time mainly because he made some of the most masculine and testosterone-filled movies of all time, which is considered to be an influence of his wish to join the Marine Corp. Nevertheless, his movies Apocalypse Now, Conan the Barbarian, and the TV series Dirty Harry remains as one of the prominent works of John Milius.

Apocalypse Now – Interview with John Milius

John Milius: His Influence

The macho self-image he presents in his movies, concerns his socio-political perspectives, his radical ideas, and so much more, represents the influence of Milius for his films. During his youth years, he was a lifeguard, and also, an enthusiastic Malibu Surfer. Therefore, there are many different things that influenced the writing and directing skills of this renowned director and screenplay writer.

He also said in an interview that he was always influenced by the people who hired him, and thus, there are a lot of things that influenced John Milius and helped him in becoming the man that he is today.

On the other hand, he was fascinated by Vietnam War, which is one of the reasons why he was completely heartbroken when he was rejected by the Marine Corps. John Milius started writing scripts during those times, which mainly featured both of his obsessions, and these are basically the major reasons why he is interested in creating such masculine movies.

Due to his love for guns, he is called gonzo, the gun-loving genius. He believes that he is the only one director and screenplay writer in Hollywood who would dare to do a movie like Red Dawn. John Milius says that Hollywood is basically very left wing and he believes in rugged individualism hogwash.

These are one of the reasons why he considers himself as a ‘zen anarchist’ and a ‘Nazi’ too at times. Other than that, the most admired film of John Milius, Apocalypse Now, includes a scene which is considered the most iconic scene of the movie in the middle of the debris of war, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”, this scene and line was the influence of a dream that John Milius had.

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It is said that his parents once sent him off to a private school in Colorado, which is one of the reasons why he loves mountains, tracking, hunting, and guns, and his love for these things can be easily seen in his movies. According to most of the critics, he uses his personal experiences to create the scripts and that is why the originality in his movies is preserved.

Due to his unconventional techniques of filmmaking and the uncanny ideas that inspire him, he is recognized through his fascist violence and the glorification of lawlessness that is represented in his films, even if it is through screenplay writing or by directing. There is no doubt in the fact that John Milius always has a definite vision of the world, which he exceptionally expresses through his work.

The characters he builds for his movies are always committed to a moral code and they stand by against the winds of the society in order to protect what is right or just to stand the morals. His characters are undoubtedly larger than life. Other than that, John Milius has managed to build his reputation as a respected classic chiefly due to the surfing culture he represents.

Other than that, he is an enthusiastic gun collector, who currently serves on Shotgun Committees and Public Affairs.

On Story: 107 War on the Big Screen: Oliver Stone & John Milius

The “Macho” Movies

According to John Milius, the modern day Hollywood is admirable but most of the scripts that are made today have rubbish scripts, with no shame, and he also called the writers broken, with no set pattern of writing a screenplay. The writer-director was quite impressed with Teddy Roosevelt and his TV movie Rough Riders was based on him.

He also made the film The Wind and the Lion (1975), concerning Teddy Roosevelt. He contributed his ability as a writer to the movies Jaws and Dirty Harry, which were immensely different from his movie, Red Dawn. Red Dawn was basically based on the conservative themes that represented a couple of American teenagers that take on the communist invaders.

The story of this movie was something that was hard to digest for the Americans, as most of the American directors focused on making left-wing movies. When John Milius was still striving to make better films in Hollywood, his movie Big Wednesday turned out to be a flop creation. However, eventually, the movie became a slow-burnt hit on video and later on, it was a famous DVD.

There is no doubt in the fact that the movie had a lot of flaws due to which it was harshly received by the public. Other than that, Conan The Barbarian (1982) remains as one of the best films directed by the exceptional writer and director, John Milius. However, Conan The Barbarian was assumed to be an R-rated in nature, and thus, Universal found the film too violent to release it in the first go.

The epic breadth of the film is appreciated on a larger scale even today, from the sets to everything else. The outsized presence and the overwhelming power of the former bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, created a world where morality falls secondary to conquering. The film is also known for the extreme politics included in it, with a lot of information and supplies to support the main idea of the movie.

The Wind and the Lion and Farewell to the King are two other movies which had to go through a tough time. On the other hand, he was specially hired for the Vietnam-based version of Heart of Darkness, originally written by Joseph Conrad.

Other than his love for the masculine strength and guns, he is known to express his views even if they are extreme, un-Hollywoodish, or illiberal. The reason why John Milius choose to be a director, other than just being a screenplay writer, was mainly because he believes that being a director is the next big thing after being a star, and it is also the only way the people would listen to your views and watch them.

Apart from all this craziness, John Milius has proved to be one of the most admired screenwriters in Hollywood.

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