[Ed. Note] At age of 68, after stamping his frenetic aesthetic onto Hollywood action - Anthony (Tony) D. L Scott took his life in dramatic fashion. I cannot describe the feeling of despair that enveloped the world-wide film community as news of his abrupt end; nor the outpouring of sympathy to those he left behind. To celebrate the life of the dearly departed Tony Scott – the writers of Graffiti With Punctuation (myself included) have selected the filmic work from the great man that resonates most with them.
Maria remembers The Hunger (1983):
There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Often they are confused as the same thing but they are vastly different. You have to be arrogant to fly a million dollar fighter jet but confident enough to believe you can really do it. Tony Scott captured this brilliantly is his third film Top Gun.
There was a period where I was in my early 20s where for a three month period I watched Top Gun every single day. It was as if my very own testosterone fueled tastes at the time had been splashed across the screen, but they looked cooler on film than they did in my man-child fantasies. Scott establishes in the film’s opening that it’s about ‘the best of the best’ as he unveils the flying war machines as mystical silhouettes. Suddenly, its game on as Kenny Loggin’s ‘Highway to the Dangerzone’ breaks the slumber and thrusts us into the adrenaline filled world of aerial warfare. From that moment we’re embedded with the pilots and Scott has us hanging off the side of fighter jets, inverted and darting in all directions across the sky. It’s a thrilling experience and Scott’s direction perfectly captures life in the clouds at the speed of sound.
On the ground things are no different with vibrant characters too cool for real names, great one-liners, love, tragedy and a shameless oiled up volleyball match. Scott bottled up the optimism and indulgence of the 80s in Top Gun as well as creating the greatest piece of stealth propaganda for United States naval aviation. Scott also helped shape the style of film that producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson would become famous for and Scott would often return to collaborate.
Thanks Tony Scott for giving me the need for speed.
Joe Hallenbeck: This is the '90s. You can't just walk up and slap a guy, you have to say something cool first.
There are certain films that never depreciate. They live with quotable lines, style and grit and command to be enjoyed with an audience. The Last Boy Scout is a ritual amongst my nearest and dearest friends. I can’t count the amount of times that it’s demanded a repeat viewing when we’re all together. One of my dearest friends and I continue to greet each other with the immortal line:
Joe Hallenbeck: Nobody likes you. Everybody hates you. You're gonna lose. Smile, you fuck.
With the potent scripting from Shane Black and great complimentary performances from Damon Wayans and Bruce Willis; Tony Scott crafts a great left of centre ‘buddy cop’ action comedy where the one half of the couple is a discharged former secret service agent turned angry private detective and the other is a disgraced washed-out sporting talent. I love how Scott balances desperation of two men at rock bottom clawing their way back into the light with genuinely hilarious insulting comedy and explosive action.
Shane Black writes The Last Boy Scout as an antidote to his own Lethal Weapon and instead of turning into a farce, it pokes fun at the genre while in the same motion outdoing its contemporaries. The performances are crafted by not only a visual stylist but a man commanding sincerity. It’s a mark of supreme talent to do the script justice.
Tony Scott influenced performers, up and coming directors and his stylistic effect on the entire action genre continues to be felt. Thank you for your art.
Dave remembers True Romance (1993):
Cupid left the the bow at home and swung his sledgehammer on this love story, Tony Scott's 1993 True Romance delivers a roller coaster ride of sex, drugs and rockabilly.
After a less than traditional courtship Clarence (Christian Slater) and Alabama (Patricia Arquette) start married life on the run, with a suitcase full of the mob's cocaine and a slew of bodies behind them. Headed for Hollywood where they hope to unload the drugs for a cash score and a chance at a better life. A "big time" movie Director and his wannabe assistant, a couple of "eager for the bust " cops, mafia hit-men and Clarence's constant imaginary "Elvis-like" mentor all converge culminating in a jaw dropping ultra-violent climax, proving sometimes love really does hurt!
With a who's who supporting cast (Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Val Kilmer, Samuel L Jackson) and Tarantino's script resonating in every word, Scott helms a film which is as cool now as it was some near two decades ago and with his trademark cut-away style coupled with a rocking soundtrack ensure its a irresistibly bumpy ride! I love this film, no I adore this film, I couldn't tell you how many times I've watched it, but I know there's many more viewings to come, it just plain works, hey its almost worth it just for the Walken/Hopper scene alone, so if you're a Tony Scott fan its time for a revisit or if you haven't seen it, a much belated first watch.
Even though he is no longer with us Tony Scott's talent will lives on through his legacy of film.