Legendary producer and studio chief Alan Ladd, Jr. has long been regarded as one of the good guys — a smart, well-respected industry fellow who had quite a run from the mid ’70s to early ’90s.
Ladd was the intrepid 20th Century Fox-based producer of George Lucas‘s Star Wars, promoting and guarding it during a notoriously dicey era when Fox execs feared it might be a clunker. A year or so later his regime also produced Ridley Scott‘s Alien.
After launching The Ladd Company in ’79, “Laddie” produced or otherwise backed Chariots of Fire, Night Shift, Blade Runner, The Right Stuff, Police Academy, The Right Stuff, Moonstruck, A Fish Called Wanda, Thelma & Louise and Gone Baby Gone.
A classy, conservatively dressed, soft-spoken guy who was never much for interviews or colorful quips, “Laddie” — the son of ’40s and ’50s superstar Alan Ladd — was widely respected by filmmakers. Like Warner Bros. honcho John Calley, Ladd brandished something that very few producers would dare to mention in 2019 — upmarket taste. He even occasionally found the balls to take creative risks on what he believed was first-rate material.
He was also the guy who didn’t seem to strongly believe in Blade Runner (he insisted that Harrison Ford record a narration track) and who released a truncated cut of Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon A Time in America for its initial release. (Leone’s director’s cut version is the one everyone thinks of today.) And Laddie had a terrible time as the head of MGM in the mid ’80s, when the company was owned by fraudster Giancarlo Parretti
The trailer for Amanda Ladd-Jones‘ Laddie: The Man Behind The Movies strongly suggests it’ll be a cottonball portrait — basically Laddie’s filmmaker pallies telling us what a shrewd, dependable and admirable guy he was, etc. Ladd-Jones is his daughter — the chances of her delivering even a hint of a warts-and-all approach are probably somewhere between slim and none.
I’m nonetheless interested in catching it at the American Cinematheque on Friday, 1.18. The AC’s website informs that the doc runs 184 minutes — almost certainly a typo. If this was the actual running time, I would be genuinely excited.