The late George P. Cosmatos, father of Mandy helmer Panos Cosmatos, was a European lowbrow action director. His peak efforts were two mid ’80s Sylvester Stallone hits — Rambo: First Blood Part II (shot for $25 million, earned $300 million worldwide) and Cobra. Cosmatos also directed the generally respected Tombstone (’93).
It was my understanding that Cosmatos was a guy you hired to handle principal photography and nothing more. In early to mid ’85 I worked for publicists Bobby Zarem and Dick Delson**, whose biggest client at the time was Stallone, and so I had a certain perspective on the post-production efforts for Rambo. To the best of my recollection Cosmatos was nowhere around. (Maybe he assembled a cut early on.) Rambo went through five editors — Larry Bock, Mark Goldblatt, Mark Helfrich, Gib Jaffe and Frank Jimenez — but as far as I could tell Stallone was calling the shots.
There’s nothing wrong with being a reliable, low-rent journeyman — not everyone can be David Lean. It’s fair to say that Cosmatos commanded a certain respect in this realm over a 25-year period (’71 to ’97), during which time he directed seven films besides the above — Sin (’71), Massacre in Rome (’73), The Cassandra Crossing (’76), Escape to Athena (’79), Of Unknown Origin (’83) Leviathan (’89) and Shadow Conspiracy (’97).
Cosmatos’ first noteworthy industry gig was as an A.D. for director Otto Preminger on Exodus (’60). Three years later he went before the cameras as “acne-faced boy” in Zorba the Greek (’64). Cosmatos collected and sold rare books as a pastime. He passed from lung cancer in ’05.
Cosmatos was politically adept with good industry relationships, but you can tell from the trailer for Sin [after the jump], a low-budget Raquel Welch programmer that Cosmatos wrote and directed, where he was at aesthetically. The video narration track for Cobra also speaks for itself.
** Delson passed last January at age 81.