Matthew Continetti takes the occasion of Sony’s cringing before the tinpot dictator of North Korea to pay tribute to modern Hollywood’s only surviving non-wussy: the legendary John Milius.
The Pauline Kael story is priceless.
Everyone has a favorite John Milius story. This is mine:
It is the mid-1980s. There is a party at the house of screenwriter Paul Schrader. Milius, who wrote Dirty Harry and Apocalypse Now and directed Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn, is there when Pauline Kael arrives. Kael is the liberal New Yorker film critic. To her, a Milius film is only slightly better than a slime mold.
Milius has had some wine. He has an intermediary tell Kael that he would like a â€œconferenceâ€ with her. A message comes back: Kael wants to know if Milius, who in meetings with executives was fond of displaying pistols, is armed.
â€œTell her Iâ€™m not armed,â€ Milius says. â€œBut I myself am a weapon.â€
I love this episode because it illustrates the mythic dimensions of Miliusâ€™ reputation in Hollywood, the way in which he came to resemble the charismatic and unpredictable and dangerous heroes he created for the screen. And Kaelâ€™s reluctance to confront the filmmaker whose art she did so much to degrade, her alternation between rhetorical ferocity and social cowardice, is characteristic of certain types of left-wing movie folk, as we see today in the studio reaction to threats made against The Interview.
Read the whole thing.