Laddie: The Man Behind The Movies is a documentary film available to rent and buy from 26th April. It’s a touching tribute movie from Amanda Ladd-Jones the daughter of one of the film industry’s most unknown and yet most influential film executives and producers – Alan Ladd Jnr – Laddie.
The film shows a series of interviews with directors, producers and stars of the film industry who have worked with Laddie, a man whose credits list is so huge it would be hard to find someone who has had the same commercial success or general popularity. With over 150 academy award nominations and 50 academy award wins, his jaw dropping collection of films include Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner, Once Upon a Time in America, Thelma and Louise, Braveheart and Chariots of Fire, to name just a few.
The film has a somewhat loose and informal feel perhaps because of his daughter’s familiarity with the subject matter. The interviews have family, friends and colleagues of her father giving candid accounts of some of the most important deals and events in film history with an outpouring of respect and admiration for a man in a role where the two do not necessarily go hand in hand.
Considered a traditional studio style producer from a bygone era with a reputation for putting the film and the artist first, compared to the studio films of today that have become synonymous for their corporate management approach and committee decision making, this guy is held up as a man of integrity whom all the major directors and actors find it easy to talk highly of.
Using pictures and video clips taken through the years, it’s like a family album yet of someone married to his job. Aided by his daughter’s narration who is in search of the man behind all these great pictures, whilst looking for some kind of placation as to why she feels her father had been missing from her life. Intriguingly something similar had happened to him, as we find out Alan Ladd Snr, himself an early Hollywood film idol, had ostracised him, and left him feeling the burden of his family name, in what is a real life tale about Hollywood royalty.
A driven man who had devoted his life to film from his early days as an agent working with a similarly high profile list of film names including Judy Garland, Robert Redford and Warren Beatty, to heading up London International Management Ltd in the UK before switching to producing because the roles conflicted and he ended up becoming head of 20th Century Fox. His management style brought success and he is widely regarded as the man responsible for getting Star Wars made. Hard to believe, but it was his belief that convinced a reluctant boardroom to make a film casting ‘a hairy dog’ as a lead. The films that follow are equally as iconic.
For students of film it is a great opportunity to be able to place a man and his role in the history of cinema but it also brings into account the emotional ties of family. His influence on films was more than just his backing, he was known for his creative verve and willingness to take a risk and back the talent. He would be involved with the creative process, even putting women forward in an industry not noted for it, most notably here with Sigourney Weaver in Ridley Scott’s Alien and the success of Thelma and Louise in one of the most popular female protagonist stories ever made. He also pushed for women behind the camera too, all in all, making a conclusive link to recognising the influence of his daughters, which seems very much sort after here.
The film only skims the surface of a life in an industry that has touched so many lives in so many different ways. The role of the movie mogul doesn’t get much credit in comparison to the famous actors and directors featured here. How much of an influence he has had on them all is hard to tell but by the sounds of this he has done a fair amount in shaping the films that have been the backdrop to our lives, making this essential viewing for any film buff.
Film: Laddie: The Man Behind The Movies
Director: Amanda Ladd-Jones
Stars: Mel Brooks, George Lucas, Ron Howard, Ridley Scott
Run time: 1hr 23min