The Magic of Steven Spielberg, 1984
Duel, Sugarland Express, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1941
Gene reviews The Bounty by himself at the end of this video.
7 thoughts on “The Magic of Steven Spielberg, 1984”
1941 was an unfocused mess, indeed. Spielberg made another slapstick comedy, The Money Pit, which I thought was even worse! 1941 has become a cult hit ever since and did make money, though still nowhere near the blockbuster money of Indiana Jones, Jaws, etc. I suppose you could call “Saving Private Ryan” his “1941” apology.
Spielberg made some more crowd-pleasing entertainment, before getting serious with “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan”. The Academy finally gave Steven his just due with “Schindler’s List”, after basically ignoring him for his previous blockbusters.
When Lucas was seeking financing for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg was already attached to direct, but some studio executives asked Lucas to find a director who they “had more confidence in.” After 1941, no one BUT Lucas would’ve hired Spielberg to direct another World War 2-era comedy/action movie. Lucas refused to replace Spielberg. He was also driving a hard bargain on other aspects of the Raiders deal and didn’t find financing easily. Paramount agreed only if they got sequel rights and if “severe penalties” were applied if the movie went over-schedule or over-budget, which was Spielberg’s reputation at the time. Raiders was Spielberg’s career rehab and it worked so well no one can even remember he ever needed rehab now.
I would hardly call The Money Pit a Spielberg film. Sure, Amblin was one of three production companies and he was one of several people with a producer credit. By that rationale, Back to the Future, Goonies, Men in Black and a bunch of others are also Spielberg films.
I agree with you, Jay. It’s an industry practice where industry insiders (e.g. directors, actors) lend their names to become a “producer”, even though they may not have to do anything for the film. In exchange for the film’s profit, the well-known names of such “producers” give the film clout, akin to a stamp of approval, and making the public think that they are walking into a film of quality.
For example, Bradley Cooper is a producer for Joker and I doubt he has to do much in that capacity.
It’s stunning to me that the episode that aired the week after this one with the FULL Temple of Doom review (as well as The Natural) has still never turned up online. It looks like the rest of 1984’s episodes are completely archived here except for one special episode with career advice (The Doctors Are In). This archive has done absolutely tremendous work. Now someone, please, find that Temple of Doom/The Natural episode in your personal collection and upload it!
I hate the Spielberg magic. He’s the bastard child of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. He really got the ball rolling in the wrong direction as far as film making goes.
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