The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Joel Silver

Last week, we took a look at the career of director Richard Donner. This week's subject is a frequent colleague of Donner's, and one who never quite gets the credit he deserves...
Joel Silver
RYAN GOSLING russell crowe joel silver

While I'd argue that Jerry Bruckheimer steals a bit of his thunder, there's no other producer in Hollywood who's made as big a mark on modern action movies than Joel Silver. While a producer's role in guiding a film to a theater near you is often overlooked by the public, a handful – like Silver himself – have become industries unto themselves. Silver's produced pretty much all the most prominent action flicks to come along between the release of 48 HRS in 1982 and THE MATRIX in 1999. To put it in perspective, each of those movies marks a career-best for their directors. But for Silver, they were only two of at least ten stone-cold classics he's been involved with in some way – a fact that's nothing short of dazzling.

mel gibson danny glover lethal weapon

While not all his films have been hits (he's been behind such notorious flops as HUDSON HAWK and THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE), many of his movies are as popular today as they were when they came out. Heck, some of them – like ROAD HOUSE – are more popular now. He's been a big-screen patron to artists as diverse as Richard Donner, composer Michael Kamen, Mel Gibson, the Wachowskis, Bruce Willis, Robert Downey Jr, Shane Black and more. And, lest you think it's all about testosterone, Silver also produced the classic Kristen Bell series, Veronica Mars. While he's never been one for Oscar bait or the high-brow, his movies have made audiences happy for more than thirty years, and if anyone I've profiled deserves to be called a legend, it's him.

His Best Work
bruce willis die hard

This is a really tough one. In addition to all the LETHAL WEAPON films and THE MATRIX, Silver also made PREDATOR and COMMANDO. But, more than any of those, if anything has made a mark on action movies, it's DIE HARD. That movie was so influential, clones are still being made – with WHITE HOUSE DOWN and OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN both having been called “DIE HARD in the White House.” And heck, the franchise is still going, with a sixth film being planned, even if only the first three were any good (Silver himself only produced the first two).

His Most Overrated Film
kelly lebrock anthony michael hall weird science

In a rare stab (for the time) at comedy, Silver had a hand in producing John Hughes’s WEIRD SCIENCE. While I love Hughes, for me WEIRD SCIENCE has always been the weakest of his famous run of eighties high school movies, with the premise that two geeks could create Kelly LeBrock with their computer being an “only in the eighties” kind of idea (although it spawned the Vanessa Angel show in the nineties). It's fun but awfully silly.

His Most Underrated Film
diane lane michael pare streets of fire

A bizzaro action movie/musical hybrid, STREETS OF FIRE was such a notorious flop in 1984, Silver himself (referring to the lyrics of the climactic number, “This is What it Means to be Young”) said upon reading the grosses, “this is what it means to be dead!” Thirty-two years later STREETS OF FIRE still has the distinction of being the only major action-movie musical and while uneven it's rather original. Michael Pare was underrated as the lead, Tom Cody, while Diane Lane is impossibly gorgeous as his rock star lover, Ellen Aim. And ya know – those songs by Jim Steinman are pretty good.

His Best Scene

While Silver's been responsible for some of the greatest action moments of all time, one scene that most definitely belongs here (just for fun) is his bit as Baby Herman's director in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. While he didn't produce the film, legend has it his cameo was a prank on studio head Michael Eisner with whom he apparently feuded.

His Five Best Films


Up Next

While THE NICE GUYS isn't doing nearly as well as it deserves to, Silver's got a ton of movies in the works, ranging from programmers like COLLIDE, to prestige pics like SUBURBICON. He's also got about half a dozen other movies in the works, including a third SHERLOCK HOLMES.

Source: JoBlo.com



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