On August 19th, 2012 Tony Scott committed suicide by jumping from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the San Pedro port district of Los Angeles, California. He was 68 years of age and he left behind devastated friends and family. He also left behind a legacy of sixteen movies, tons of commercials and a variety of short-films. Despite writing a number of goodbye letters, the reasons behind his suicide have not been made public. Nor, in my opinion, should they.
Tony’s death hit me pretty hard. Not just because he was a director who I thought never got the respect he was due by the critics, but because he, like his brother Ridley, was a ‘local lad’ from my hometown who didn’t even get the recognition that he was deserved in his local area. It just felt like he was gone without ever knowing just how much the majority of his films were truly worth or how he much he was valued as the “local lad made good” from North Shields.
The reasons for following his brother into commercial directing were ones that Tony had never been shy of admitting: Money and lots of it. Even as a student artist he would never think about where his work would be placed when it was completed. He thought about who was going to take it and how much they would pay. The commerce was the key factor. It was a factor that he carried into his commercial work and eventually into his movie making.
It was, as Tony Scott often said, a ‘business’ after all. Studios were giving out often unseemly amounts of money and they expected big returns on it. In Tony’s eyes it was his job to make sure that this happened and to make the most viable product possible to ensure it. If it happened to end up as something definable as a ‘classic’ then it was a happy accident.
The critics would often vilify him for this but that was unfair. He was often being punished through critical consensus for being unashamed and outspoken for the very outlook a vast majority of directors possessed but just never vocalized. He wanted to make movies that played to the widest possible audience and brought in the widest amount of money.
He was, to put it simply, one of the best mainstream directors of commercial fare of the last three decades.
Over the next two weeks, I’m going to countdown and take a deeper look at my favourite Tony Scott movies in tribute to a man whose speed-edits and car-flips will be enormously missed from our cinema screens for a long, long, long time to come.
I’m not going to lie and pretend that I loved ALL of Scott’s movies and that’ll be evident over the course of the first few days of this tribute. But as we move further down the list you’ll soon discover that there’s a vast majority of them that I did adore and I hope that my thoughts about them prove infectious enough for you to seek them out if you’ve not seem them already.
“I always get criticised for style over content, unlike Ridley’s films that go into the classic box right away. Mine sort of hover. Maybe with time people will start saying they should be classics, but I think I’m always perceived as reaching too hard for difference, and difference doesn’t categorise you in the ‘classic’ category.”
– Tony Scott
Check out the other articles in this feature (will update this list as they are released):
3. The Fan