October 2012 – Director – Monte Hellman



Date of Birth12 July 1932, New York City, New York, USA  Birth Name Monte Jay Himmelman
Mini Biography Cult director Monte Hellman has made a handful of offbeat, inventive and intriguing low-budget independent features throughout the years. His films are distinguished by slow pacing, vague but compelling plots and often obsessive characters.

Hellman was born on July 12, 1932, in New York City. He studied drama at Stanford University and film at UCLA. Hellman hooked up with legendary exploitation movie producer Roger Corman in the late 1950s. He made his directorial debut with the enjoyable creature feature Beast from Haunted Cave (1959). He also directed portions of the notorious Corman fright flick fiasco The Terror (1963). Hellman joined forces with frequent collaborator Jack Nicholson for two pictures that were shot back-to-back on shoestring budgets in the Philippines: the exciting World War II potboiler Back Door to Hell (1964) and the entertaining action thriller Flight to Fury (1964) (Nicholson also penned the screenplay for this latter film). Monte then reteamed with Nicholson for two outstanding and enigmatic existential westerns that were filmed in Utah under similar conditions: Ride in the Whirlwind (1965)–Nicholson once again wrote the script–and the especially striking The Shooting (1966), which was the first of four features Hellman did with scruffy character actor supreme Warren Oates. Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) rates highly as Monte’s most remarkable cinematic achievement to date: it’s a fascinatingly bleak and oblique road movie that perfectly nails the bummed-out malaise of the early 1970s, boasts musicians James Taylor and Dennis Wilson (of The Beach Boys) in their sole acting efforts, and showcases an amazing central performance by Oates as mysterious motorist “GTO”. “Two-Lane Blacktop” received favorable reviews from most critics, but alas bombed at the box office. Luckily, it has since garnered a well-deserved avid fan following. Cockfighter (1974) was an excellent adaptation of ‘Charles Willeford”s gritty novel with another mesmerizing lead performance by the incomparable Oates. Hellman began the Hammer crime action yarn Shatter (1975) but was replaced by Michael Carreras halfway through the production. he also directed an episode of the Robert Blake cop series “Baretta” (1975). Amore, piombo e furore (1978) was a typically quirky revisionist spaghetti western. Iguana (1988) offered a brutal and provocative allegory on the darkest aspects of human nature, but unfortunately suffered from poor distribution. Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! (1989) (V) qualifies as Hellman’s worst movie; it’s a run-of-the-mill slasher sequel that’s totally unworthy of his considerable talents.
Monte was the dialogue director for Corman’s The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967). He handled second unit director chores on Samuel Fuller’s stirring World War II epic The Big Red One (1980) and the fantastic science-fiction smash hit RoboCop (1987). Hellman finished two pictures in post-production that were started by other directors who died after the movies were shot: the failed Muhammad Ali bio The Greatest (1977) (started by Tom Gries) and the dismal spy saga Avalanche Express (1979) (begun by Mark Robson). He shot extra footage for the television versions of Ski Troop Attack (1960), Last Woman on Earth (1960), “Creature from the Haunted Sea” and Sergio Leone’s magnificent spaghetti Western landmark A Fistful of Dollars (1964). Among the movies Hellman has served as an editor on are Corman’s The Wild Angels (1966), Bob Rafelson’s Head (1968), Sam Peckinpah’s The Killer Elite (1975) and Jonathan Demme’s Fighting Mad (1976). Monte was an executive producer on Quentin Tarantino’s explosive debut feature Reservoir Dogs (1992). After a regrettably lengthy absence from directing, Monte Hellman made a welcome comeback with the “Stanley’s Girlfriend” segment of the horror anthology Trapped Ashes (2006).

LnL Questionnaire

Your favourite virtue?

Your favourite qualities in a man?
Sense of humor, Wit, Loyalty

Your favourite qualities in a woman?
Sense of humor, Grace, Loyalty

Your main characteristic?

What draws you most to your friends?
Shared despair

Given the opportunity what would you most like to change?
Man’s inhumanity

Who would you most like to take out for dinner?
Oscar Wilde

Your idea of happiness?
 Directing Shannyn Sossamon

What is your favourite way of spending the day?
Directing Shannyn Sossamon

Whose life other than yours would you most like to have lived?
Richard Avedon

Where would you most like to live?
On a cliff overlooking the sea

Who is your favourite author?
Steven Gaydos

Who is your favourite poet?
e.e. cummings, Rilke, Borges

Your favourite heroes in fiction?
 Tarzan, the Lone Ranger

Your favourite heroines in fiction?
Portia, Kate, Elektra, Liu inTurandot

Your favourite painters?
Renoir, Van Gogh

Who is your favourite composer?

What is your favourite Film?
Road to Nowhere

Your favourite food?
Grass-fed Filet Mignon

Your favourite drink?

Who do you most admire?
Cary Grant

What is your present state of mind?

For what fault have you most toleration?

Sex addiction

Your favourite motto?

No system could digest the wilful arbitrariness of his best films.





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