The shocking and tragic news of Tony Scott‘s death cast a pall over Hollywood Monday, and while the late director will be missed, he leaves behind a legacy of fun, frenetic films that will be remembered for a very long time to come.
In memory of Tony Scott, here are his five essential films.
The high-flying thriller set the tone for not only Scott’s career, but catapulted Tom Cruise to superstar levels and, according to writer Mark Harris in GQ, defined a generation of blockbuster moviemaking. The high-concept action movie paved the way for the string of thrillers that made up most of Scott’s career.
Before Quentin Tarantino was the fanboy-beloved writer/director we know him as today, he was just a kid trying to get a movie made. One of the first screenplays Tarantino wrote told the story of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, Clarence and Alabama, just two crazy kids in love, trying to sell an enormous suitcase of cocaine. “True Romance” remains one of the most underappreciated films from both Scott’s résumé and the 1990s, boasting an insane Gary Oldman performance, a legendary monologue from Dennis Hopper and a scene-stealing cameo from a young Brad Pitt.
The later part of Scott’s career thrived on frequent collaborations with actor Denzel Washington, who headlined four of Scott’s final five feature films. “Crimson Tide,” a claustrophobic Navy thriller, pitted Washington against Gene Hackman as two men vying for control of a nuclear sub.
Probably best remembered for bringing together two generations of handsome leading men, “Spy Game” stands out in Scott’s filmography for being his last visually straightforward and generally more subdued film. In this spy thriller, Robert Redford stars as Nathan Muir, a CIA agent, who must head back into the fray to liberate his onetime protégé, played by Brad Pitt, from Chinese captivity.
“Beat the Devil”
In 2001 and 2002, BMW commissioned “The Hire,” a series of short films highlighting their cars and made by high-profile directors including Ang Lee, Guy Ritchie and John Woo. Each short starred Clive Owen as The Driver, a transporter for hire and an apparent fan of BMW cars. Scott’s segment, “Beat the Devil,” was one of the very best. In the short, The Driver is hired by James Brown, who must renegotiate his beat with the Devil in order to get his youth back. The short marks one of Scott’s first uses of the high-contrast visual style that would define his later career.
What is your favorite Tony Scott film? Leave your answers in the comments!