Producer Jerome Hellman was a gentleman and a class act. He had a stellar 20-year run between the mid ’60s to mid ’80s — The World of Henry Orient (1964), A Fine Madness (1966), Midnight Cowboy (1969), The Day of the Locust (1975), Coming Home (1978), Promises in the Dark (1979 — Hellman also directed) and The Mosquito Coast (1986).
Cowboy‘s Best Picture Oscar triumph was the peak moment. Plus Hellman (I’d forgotten this) played a small part in Hal Ashby‘s Being There.
The Mosquito Coast was a bust, and we all know it’s hard to launch your next film when the most recent has wiped out. It still seems curious that someone as driven, cultured and connected as Hellman, 58 in ’86, never produced again.
We all know that Hollywood movie culture began to coarsen in the mid ’90s and drift more toward Jan de Bont-type films, and was therefore more and more at odds with the kind of mature, adult-friendly film that Hellman stood for. And we know that sooner or later older producers always get elbowed out of the room by whippersnappers.
A man of refinement, intelligence, smoothitude. I don’t know for a fact that Hellman never wore gold-toe socks, but I’m betting he didn’t.
I’m especially sorry that Hellman had to suffer through the ignominious April ’18 release of Criterion’s notorious teal-tinted Midnight Cowboy Bluray — by any reasonable visual standard a complete desecration.