Monday, March 30, 2009

Steven Bach, RIP

Before Gigli, before Ishtar, before The Postman, before Battlefield Earth, heck even before Howard the Duck, there was Heaven's Gate (1980) -- the biggest movie bomb of all time. It was such a huge flop that it put its studio, United Artists, out of business. And believe or it, the guy who directed it (Michael Cimino) had just won an Oscar for directing The Deer Hunter!

Heaven's Gate wasn't just a failed movie, it was a Hollywood scandal. It was also a story of Hollywood run amok, about how money alone can't create great art.

Steven Bach was one the UA executives who oversaw the production of Heaven's Gate and his 1985 book Final Cut about this fiasco is easily the best book ever written about Hollywood and the movie business. The making of this movie is much more fascinating, entertaining, bizarre, and tragic than the actual movie itself -- and Final Cut tells this story in thrilling, intricate, honest detail. It's a great read and, if you want to understand how the movie business today came to be, it's is a must read. In
this era of corporate greed and stupidity and recklessness, the story of Final Cut is, in many ways, more relevant today than ever before.

Steven Bach passed away last week at the age of 70 so this is my little tribute to him. Fortunately, he not only oversaw Heaven's Gate, but also some New York movies including Woody Allen's Annie Hall and Manhattan, and Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull.

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