Posts Tagged ‘Marlene Dietrich’

Authorexecobit: Steven Bach

March 31, 2009

Heaven’s Gate is one of those legendary Hollywood disasters that actually lives up to its reputation. Yep, it’s ambitious, telling the story of a Wyoming range war in the style of Soviet social realism. It looks like money has been thrown on the screen: writer-director Michael Cimino built a town complete with working street-car. It’s incredibly long, clocking in at nearly four hours. At times it’s inexplicable, as when half-an-hour is spend watching a Harvard graduation scene that was actually lensed in Oxford. It’s also unbearable.

Steven Bach was the United Artists studio executive who fell on his sword when Heaven’s Gate was released in 1980. Its $7.5 million budget had nearly quintupled. Cimino’s magnum opus was jeered out of theatres. Its failure led to United Artists’ collapse, and the death knell was sounded for the second golden age of Hollywood cinema. But Bach had the last laugh with 1985’s Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, an account which has become a textbook on how not to make a film. Bach died of cancer in Vermont last Wednesday, aged 70.