How does Michael Mann make films? And what are his influences in that approach? What does making films mean to him? Find out above. [filmschoolthrucommentaries]
Michael Mann’s screenplay for ‘Thief’ [pdf]. (NOTE: For educational purposes only.) ‘Thief’ is a GREAT film for young screenwriters to dissect. Enjoy it once — then go back and take it apart — you’ll learn A LOT!
‘Thief’ was Michael Mann’s first film.
JC: Yeah, I found Michael Mann. Literally. I was doing ‘Chapter Two,’ and this guy was sitting outside my trailer in a wooden chair, and he said, “Can I talk to you?” I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “I wanted to show you a script I’ve written.” And at the time, I was very fortunate that I was able to do whatever the hell I wanted to do, so I put it together right away. I got Jerry Bruckheimer to produce it… along with my brother, Ronnie, which was hysterical. And Michael, he’s a workaholic, you know. I still think that’s his best picture. He brought in the forensic stuff and everything. It was a real tough picture to work on, though, because he’d work 16, 17 hours a day. I liked it, though. It was a good movie. —James Caan on The Godfather, John Wayne, and all the roles he’s done as favors
Michael Mann (writer, director), James Caan (Frank), about 22 gallons of liquid cool:
I wasn’t really interested in cinema until I saw ‘Dr. Strangelove,’ alongside a set of films by F.W. Murnau and G.W. Pabst for a college course. These were a revelation. I’d already seen some of the French New Wave and some Russian films, but the idea of directing, of shooting a film myself? Never. Prior to Strangelove, it simply had not seemed possible that you could work in the mainstream film industry and make very ambitious films for a big mainstream audience. The whole film is a third act. The mad general played by Sterling Hayden is totally submerged in his character the moment we first encounter him. There’s no prelude, no context. We’re just with him, we know who the guy is, and we catch up along the way. Even as a young man I found that intensity very exciting—how immediate it was. —The Study of Mann
- 30 things we learned from the ‘Thief’ commentary
- “Michael Mann’s ‘Thief’ is a film of style, substance, and violently felt emotion, all wrapped up in one of the most intelligent thrillers I’ve seen.” —Roger Ebert
- For ‘Thief’ role, James Caan got first-hand data
- James Caan’s AMAZING character/story defining monologue from Michael Mann’s ‘Thief’
- One of the greatest openings: Tangerine Dream opening scene from Michael Mann’s ‘Thief’
- Michael Mann Retrospective — ‘Thief’ (1981)
- Mann Handled: A Michael Mann Profile
- Three Reasons: ‘Thief’
Thanks to Will McCrabb for the photos.
For more, see our archive under the tag, “Michael Mann.”
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Chuck Berry by Jean-Marie Périer