John Landis

John Landis

John Landis is the director of Animal HouseThe Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf In LondonTrading PlacesComing To America, Kentucky Fried MovieSpies Like UsThree Amigos!Into The Night and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and the recent Burke and Hare for Ealing Studios,  among many other films and television shows. His documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project premiered on HBO and won an Emmy for Best Music, Comedy or Variety Special.  He is also the subject of noted film critic Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan’s recent book “John Landis” and his own book “Monsters in the Movies’ was published to critical and popular acclaim in 2012.

 

Commentaries by John Landis

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The Maltese Falcon

1941
Warner Bros.
In today’s remake-crazed atmosphere it’s worth noting that this was the second remake...
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Gold Diggers of 1933

1933
Warner Bros.
Such a happy movie for having been made in the middle of...
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In Society

1944
Universal
Wartime phenomena Bud and Lou at the height of their fame in one of...
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Kind Hearts and Coronets

1950
Eagle-Lion Films
Perhaps the greatest of the Ealing comedies, this blackly humorous multiple murder...
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Cabaret

1972
Allied Artists Pictures
They say tense sets often make for good movies and Cabaret is no exception. Desperate for a...
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The Disorderly Orderly

1964
Paramount
As Ethan de Seife notes in his essential, just-published study of writer-director-cartoonist Frank...
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Heaven Can Wait

1943
20th Century Fox
No, it’s not the Warren Beatty remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, but...
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Bonnie and Clyde

1967
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Although a flop upon its release in 1967, this landmark New Hollywood gangster...
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A Star is Born

1954
Warner Bros.
Cary Grant was originally entreated by co-star Judy Garland to play fading...
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Close Encounters of the Third Kind

1977
Columbia
Steven Spielberg was playing with house money after the enormous...
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Glengarry Glen Ross

1992
New Line Cinema
Director James Foley’s adaptation of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize winning play was a...
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The Court Jester

1956
Paramount
For many people today comic Danny Kaye is an acquired taste, but love...
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The Pirate

1948
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
This 1948 Vincente Minnelli musical could just as easily been titled The Technicolor Pirate, so blazingly...
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Death Race 2000

1975
New World Pictures
The recent big-budget “re-imagining” of Paul Bartel’s tacky but wacky original lost all...
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The Band Wagon

1953
MGM
Vincente Minnelli, Arthur Freed and Comden & Greene’s timeless classic is the musical...
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Citizen Kane

1941
RKO Radio Pictures
For years Orson Welles had to deal with the perception of failure when none...
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Fellini Satyricon

1969
United Artists
The maestro’s thumb-through of Petronius finds ancient Rome to be as joyless and overheated...
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The Bed Sitting Room

1969
United Artists
“I think man has no option but to continue his own stupidity”...
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Pretty Maids All in a Row

1971
MGM
Reeling from his divorce from Jane Fonda, French director Roger...
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Gorilla at Large

1954
20th Century Fox
Talk about descriptive titles! This generic little indie, set in a Long Beach...
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The Curse of the Werewolf

1961
Universal
Oliver Reed scores in one of his early lead roles as...
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The Marx Brothers At The Circus

1939
MGM
John Landis was the natural choice to talk about this...
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Duck Soup

1933
Paramount
Duck Soup, arguably the Marx Brothers’ best film, is also one of the greatest...
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The Bridge on the River Kwai

1957
Columbia
David Lean’s 2 hour and 41 minute war drama was...
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Singin’ in the Rain

1952
MGM
Close to perfection. Directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly assemble a peerless...
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2001: A Space Odyssey

1968
MGM
Many a baby boomer’s most treasured recollections of the 1960s include one...
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The Last Emperor

1987
Columbia
Many epics crumble under the weight of their own plus-sized intentions but thanks...
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Dolemite

1975
Dimension Pictures
Embarrassingly entertaining, Dolemite is like a comic book version of a blaxploitation film. Written, produced...
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It’s a Wonderful Life

1946
RKO Radio Pictures
Frank Capra was known for such upstanding, optimistic films (“Capra-corn” to the...
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Blazing Saddles

1974
Warner Bros.
Wacky anachronisms abound in Mel Brooks’ now classic sagebrush satire about a black sheriff in...
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Chato’s Land

1972
United Artists
Michael Winner’s cynical, violent Vietnam-era western pits stoic lone Apache Charles Bronson against a...
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Way Out West

1937
MGM
Often cited (by Stan Laurel himself) as a quintessential Laurel and Hardy vehicle,...
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VCI Entertainment Collection
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Gorgo

1961
MGM
The third time’s the charm for production designer turned director Eugene Lourie’s final entry in...
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Cabin in the Sky

1943
MGM
The hit 1940 Broadway musical version of the Faust legend made it to the...
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Road to Morocco

1942
Paramount
Third in the series of seven self-aware Hope-Crosby Road comedies, this Ishtar-like entry...
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The Russians are Coming, The Russians are coming

1966
United Artists
Alan Arkin made his film debut as a...
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Panic in the Streets

1950
2
Before Contagion, before Outbreak, there was this scarifying 50s germfest. Shot semi-documentary...
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Island of Lost Souls

1932
Paramount
“They’re restless tonight,” mutters the insane Dr. Moreau about the vengeful natives...
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The Horror of Party Beach

1964
20th Century Fox
This mini-budget Connecticut-shot indie originally featured garbage-like monster designs that recalled...
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Kiss Me Kate

1953
MGM
George Sidney’s terrific film adaptation of the popular Broadway musical (derived from Taming...
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One Million Years BC

1967
20th Century Fox
This is the way it wasn’t! A longtime favorite with Creationists, this...
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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

1954
MGM
Sexual politics get the once-over as a family of Oregon mountain...
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The Car

1977
Universal
In Universal’s long history of memorable monsters, the least personable must surely be the...
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King Kong vs. Godzilla

1963
Universal
Original Kong animator Willis O’Brien never got credit (nor would he have...
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The Philadelphia Story

1940
MGM
Another great Cary Grant performance was overshadowed somewhat by the Oscar win of...
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Auntie Mame

1958
Warner Bros.
Patrick Dennis’ witty 1955‚ best-seller about a boy and his‚ larger-than- life‚ socialite aunt...
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The Longest Day

1962
20th Century Fox
Although three directors are credited, veteran producer Darryl F. Zanuck was the true...
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Lord Love a Duck

1966
United Artists
George Axelrod’s unclassifiable satire is one of the oddest Hollywood movies, which...
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The Ladies Man

1961
Paramount
The spirit of Frank Tashlin hovers over Jerry Lewis’s first auteurist triumph which‚...
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Have Rocket Will Travel

1959
Columbia
This cheap but popular sci fi spoof was the first Columbia feature...
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A Chump at Oxford

1940
United Artists
Like Saps at Sea, this Hal Roach Laurel & Hardy vehicle was...
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La Strada

1956
Trans Lux
The film that put Federico Fellini on the map internationally, with his wife Giuliana...
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Our Man in Havana

1960
Columbia
Director Carol Reed filmed his extremely well-cast adaptation of Grahame Greene’s spy...
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Mark of the Vampire

1935
MGM
Tod Browning’s remake of London After Midnight is about as close as...
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Battle for the Planet of the Apes

1973
20th Century Fox
Last and least of the Apes series tries to...
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Beneath the Planet of the Apes

1970
20th Century Fox
This surprisingly downbeat first of four sequels remains the most...
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Planet of the Apes

1968
20th Century Fox
One of the major science fiction pictures of its era. J. Lee...
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When Comedy Was King

1960
20th Century Fox
Second in the series of theatrical pastiches assembled by producer and film...
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First Men in the Moon

1964
Columbia
Victorian astronauts find Ray Harryhausen-animated life on the moon in this...
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Schlock!/The Banana Monster

1973
Jack H. Harris Enterprises
John Landis spills on what he thinks (not much) of the ridiculous reissue...
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Angels With Dirty Faces

1938
Warner Bros.
“C’mon out, Rocky. You haven’t got a chance!” 70 years of parodies...
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Destroy All Monsters

1969
AIP
An all-star monster rally featuring a planetload of Toho monsters from previous films,...
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The Fabulous World of Jules Verne

1961
Warner Bros.
The imaginative films of Czech animator/director Karel Zeman were poorly...
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Casablanca

1942
Warner Bros.
The movie that cemented Bogart’s star status remains a miracle of studio filmmaking over 50...
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Dr. Renault’s Secret

1942
20th Century Fox
Mad doctor George Zucco is at it again, this time turning an ape...
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Circus of Horrors

1960
AIP
German actor Anton Diffring, who specialized in playing Nazis and sinister aristocrats, is...
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The Vikings

1958
United Artists
One of the best historical spectacles of the period, this 1958 adventure provided the...
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Zulu

1964
Embassy Pictures
Producer Stanley Baker stars in Cy Endfield’s epic recreation of the 1879 Battle of Rorke’s...
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The Professionals

1966
Columbia
A quintessential piece of Hollywood craftsmanship, Richard Brooks’ post-Mexican revolutionary western is star-studded, action...
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Tora! Tora! Tora!

1970
20th Century Fox
One of a kind co-production between 20th Century Fox and Japan’s Toei Studios...
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All The King’s Men

1949
Columbia
Rumor has it there was a recent remake of this Best Picture...
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Arsenic and Old Lace

1944
Warner Bros.
After a run of 1,444 performances on Broadway, Frank Capra’s 1941 filmization...
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Vera Cruz

1954
United Artists
The seeds of many a Euro Western were sown by this Robert Aldrich classic....
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To Catch a Thief

1955
Paramount
The mid-50s French Riviera provides an attractive backdrop to one of Hitchcock’s...
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Mighty Joe Young

1949
RKO Radio Pictures
A fan favorite from 50 years of tv broadcasts, this family-oriented amalgam of...
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Ben-Hur

1959
MGM
One of the most successful remakes in Hollywood history, William Wyler’s eye-popping take on Fred...
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Private Parts

1972
MGM
Too Out There for producer MGM, which released it through a subsidiary company, this...
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Tarzan and His Mate

1934
MGM
Generally regarded as the pinnacle of MGM’s Tarzan series, this pre-code entry...
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The Alamo

1960
United Artists
“Republic. I like the sound of the word.” No, it’s not John Wayne talking about...
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Point Blank

1967
MGM
John Boorman’s dreamily stylized adaptation of a Donald E. Westlake novel was way ahead...
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Dawn of the Dead

1979
United Film Distribution
Some call this first Living Dead sequel Romero’s masterpiece. Social satire alternates...
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Atlantis, the Lost Continent

1961
MGM
Expense was clearly spared in every department of George Pal’s mystifyingly cheesy...
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The Defiant Ones

1958
United Artists
Stanley Kramer’s once controversial saga of two chain gang escapees on the run...
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The Shootist

1976
Paramount
The Duke rides into the the sunset forever with a moving performance as a...
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This is Spinal Tap

1984
Embassy
This classic mockumentary about The World’s Loudest Heavy Metal Band was largely...
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The Green Slime

1969
MGM
Perhaps to save on dubbing costs, this tacky Japanese-produced space opera features an...
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The Beguiled

1971
Universal
Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood used their combined boxoffice clout to get Universal to...
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Don’t Look Now

1973
Paramount
For his third outing as a director, cinematographer Nicolas Roeg came up with...
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The Brain that Wouldn’t Die

1962
AIP
Shot near Tarrytown, New York as “The Head That Wouldn’t Die”,...
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Ulzana’s Raid

1972
Universal
Robert Aldrich’s brutal Cavalry vs Indians western is a Vietnam allegory that pulls no...
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Once Upon a Time in the West

1969
Paramount
Sergio Leone’s 1968 masterpiece gives the lie to the...
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International House

1933
Paramount
The long-vanished 1930s tradition of feature-length parades of vaudeville and radio acts reaches its...
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The Bride and the Beast

1958
Allied Artists Pictures
An angora-loving gorilla sets his sights on the curvy heroine in...
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Sweet Smell of Success

1957
United Artists
Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman’s corrosive look at Power in America as...
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Abbott and Costello Meet Frankentstein

1948
Universal
After “Young Frankenstein”, this is probably the best-loved horror comedy of...
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It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

1963
United Artists
Although one wag said of director Stanley Kramer’s all-star...
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Sunset Boulevard

1950
Paramount
Billy Wilder royally p.o.’d most of the Hollywood establishment with this devastatingly dark yet...
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Psycho

1960
Paramount
A most unusual trailer (almost a short subject at nearly 7 minutes long) from 1960,...
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Colossus: The Forbin Project

1970
Universal
Made in 1968 and shelved for nearly two years, this is one...
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The Fall of the Roman Empire

1964
Paramount
They don’t make ’em like this anymore: those huge sets...
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The T.A.M.I. Show

1964
AIP
Most of the archival footage you’ve seen of seminal rock acts comes from...
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