The most cursed Hollywood movie, the film that put a padlock in one of the biggest studios

"Tsimino sold his soul to the Devil for the" Deer Hunter "and the Devil just returned to collect"

ciimmaoiinnfooeterf000 1312x819 movie, HOLLYWOOD

At 5:45 a.m. on November 21, 1980, the half-asleep night watchman in the United Artists studio was thrown from his chair by those searchlights that suddenly blinded him.

Before the car reached his outpost, he managed to contact his colleague at the other end of the fence: "What's going on?", He asked. When he heard the answer, he ran to open the gate and lead the car.

Inside him was the terrible child of the studio, the 38-year-old Michael Cimino, who was coming from the uninitiated for work. Next to him were some reels from his brand new 3,5 hour western, the "Gate of the West". Four hours, or rather, only a half-hour bass was finally cut and he went out into the halls.

And yet, the $ 44 million film (an unthinkable amount for 1980!) Had been kicked out of American cinemas just two days earlier as critics poured out their bile. And the public had ostentatiously ignored it.

ciimmaoiinnfooeterf4 movie, HOLLYWOOD

By 6:00 a.m., Cimino and his team, including those who had edited his recent success, the masterpiece "Deer Hunter" (1978), had rolled up their sleeves to slice the new film into a two-hour film. version that could possibly find distribution.

In less than a week, the film would have turned into a creative one Hell for Cimino and the Purgatory the same for United Artists. But also the final tombstone of the so-called "New Hollywood"!

And the truth is that United Artists had invested a lot in the epic western, with its executives describing it as nothing less than the "new" Birth of a Nation "or the" modern "What the Wind Takes". With the second film, of course, it was more related, as the wind would really take it!

The "Gateway to the West" made its press release in New York on Tuesday, November 18, the next day it was buried by all the critics who attended the screening and the studio withdrew it from the cinemas two days later.

ciimmaoiinnfooeterf1 movie, HOLLYWOOD

The distribution companies now had to not only compensate those who had booked their tickets in advance in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto, a not insignificant sum of $ 100.000, but also find what good to play in its place.

United Artists had spent another $ 10 million on promotions for the film, so he believed it. It was not 10, it was 15 million in the end. At the same time, Liberty Records had already distributed 500.000 copies of the soundtrack of the film, which were available in record stores, but the film was missing.

And the worst had not even arrived…

The proverbial megalomania of Cimino

ap 16184758582905 movie, HOLLYWOOD

About 2,5 hours after the epic begins, a mob of residents rushes into the room of the drunken federal drunk police officer (Chris Christofferson). Surprised, he kicks one away and removes the others with his whip.

A short and simple scene that the perfectionist director shot… 52 times! "It was the only thing we came back that day," complained costume designer Sandra Jordan in the famous West Gate filming documentary, "and so it went, go and go and go."

They called it an immunoassay, they called it a miasma and things like that, maintaining the reputation of the most hated movie in all of Hollywood. What unfolded in shooting belong today to the realm of legend and the truth is that it is no longer easy to unravel the facts from the exaggeration.

The budget was out of control, the studio staff was pulling their hair out, the artistic contests and puffy ego of the performers were also proverbial, as was everyone's uncontrollable ambition.

Cimino, the child prodigy of United Artists, had just been honored with me Oscar Directed for the "Deer Hunter" of 5 statuettes (among them Best Film) and had resorted to the insult of arrogance. He now had in his hands the golden ticket of great budget and absolute creative freedom.

ap 770911088 movie, HOLLYWOOD

The draft "Gateway to the West" had been ready since 1971, but now that it was the hottest name in American cinema, it got the coveted "yes". "Yes" to Isabel Yper, after a Homeric quarrel, "yes" to the 12 million budget, "yes" to everything.

Shooting begins in April 1979 with strong winds, only to turn into a proper tragedy. The crew crawled for a whole year and the shots were finally over, as Cimino was sucking dangerously and required at least 50 shots for each shot!

Result; On the sixth day of filming, production was on schedule for… 5 days. Even to komparsus he wanted to have the last word, choosing what all these hundreds of anonymous attendees in the background would wear.

His bigotry led him to ask for the reconstruction of the main road of the settlement, because the distances of the two sides were not symmetrical. And certainly not the ones he had suggested. "He does not look right," he said simply.

They even cut down a tree and carried it to the graduation yard, at the same time as they built a huge water system under the ground where the battle scenes were filmed, so that the grass would remain green and contrast with the colors of the clothes.

ciimmaoiinnfooeterf2 movie, HOLLYWOOD

A year later, the cost had almost quadrupled and no one was talking to anyone. Such were Cimino's obsessions with the iconoclastic perfection he sought to achieve. The day of filming for the studio cost over $ 200.000.

Legend has it that Cimino had heard that Francis Ford Coppola in "Apocalypse Now" (1979) he had reached a film length of 300 kilometers (300.000 meters of film!) and decided to surpass it. And he did it, with the total length of the celluloid for the "West Gate" crystallizing at 400 kilometers! That is close to 220 hours of material.

The legend also wants a good percentage of the budget to go to drugs for the troubled garage! In his revealing book "The Final Cut", then-United Artists producer Steven Bach claimed that half the money went to drugs.

Hundreds of people were crawling on its pastures Montana to do their tents and waited weeks and weeks up there for a few shots. The experience, as the Associated Press aptly described it, was "at the same time extremely boring and utterly fun," meaning the daily parties set up and the Christoferson and Masquerade masquerades. Jeff Bridges to kill their time.

ciimmaoiinnfooeterf3 movie, HOLLYWOOD

A sign of the delay was the fact that John Hart broke it from the shooting, went and shot David Leeds' "Elephant Man", returned to Montana and Cimino did not even realize that he had been missing for so long!

«AyatollahThe actors called Cimino behind his back, with his bigotry reminiscent of the despotic directors of old Hollywood. The director violated every rule of good manners on set, behaved awfully to everyone and what the also Oscar-winning editor William Reynolds, who was locked up with him for months in the editing, protested against him, is also legendary.

United Artists were considering firing him, replacing him with Norman Joyson. He was even thinking of closing the cannula of millions, leaving the film in the middle. She did none of this and at one point saw her golden child presenting her with a first version of the ,5,5 XNUMX hour film!

After hard work and suffering, Tsimino cut the film to 3,5 hours (219 minutes, to be exact). And then came the catastrophic failure of the premiere, the total destruction…

The padlock of United Artists

ap 8105200177 movie, HOLLYWOOD

With a budget of $ 44 million (over $ 115 million at current prices) and another $ 15 million in advertising, the "Gateway to the West" brought the United Artists to its knees. She expected it to make money, but the film brought back only $ 3,5 million!

And it was not only the financial catastrophe, but all this negative publicity that ruined the reputation of the historic studio founded in 1919 by names such as Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and the filmmaker of "Birth of a Nation" 1915) and "Intolerance" (1916) by David Griffith.

The parent company Transamerica Corporation was getting smoke out of its ears and decided to stop its involvement with film production. It sold Aron-Aron in 1981 and as much as ($ 350 million) United Artists to one of its major competitors, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which the first thing he did when he got her would be the last one: he put a final padlock on her!

At the same time, Cimino not only financially ruined one of Hollywood's top studios, but also the so-called "New Hollywood," the brilliant American cinema of the creator that flourished in the 1970s and produced a number of films. stations of American cinema.

ciimmaoiinnfooeterf5 movie, HOLLYWOOD

The freedom that the studios had given to the directors in the 70s, essentially handing over the scepter to young creators to make a big movie, was now a thing of the past.

Hollywood has returned to previous standards of exclusive, authoritarian control over production. As for Cimino, it was the beginning of the end for the career of a promising director, who was now a scapegoat and an example to be avoided. It took him 5 years to make a film again and when he did, it was necessarily low budget.

The tragedy of the whole story? How "West Gate" is a really good movie! The western it was a privileged field for the cinematic revelation of the class struggle and that was perhaps what surprised both the audience and the critics. The rich local cattle breeders and tsiflikades and what they did murderously to the newly arrived European immigrants who arrived en masse in the New World.

Today, critics have restored the accursed film and treat it more or less as an unrecognized masterpiece. Or as the most Marxist film ever made by Hollywood!