The career of Schwarzenegger started casually enough, with the mesomorphic specimen initially playing himself, and then moving to a few roles playing versions of himself. Finally, in 1981, he was chosen to helm the latest budget buster from uber-producer Dino DeLaurentiis. If you do not recognize that name you certainly are familiar with his works, as DeLaurentiis has a career that seems to be the very model of the Hollywood expression, “Failing Upwards”. He has a long and troubled record of notable bombs, which are occasionally interrupted with the rare success that assures he might have just enough bait for landing financing for future projects. His trademark is the epic costume-drama with ornate sets and austere story lines. He manages extremely high production values and at the same time offers insipid plots. Basically he is the cinema’s version of Aaron Spelling.
“Dune”, “Hurricane”, and the hilariously offensive hate-crime “Mandingo” are just a few of his infamous calamities. One look at the movie poster for his 1976 version of “King Kong” is all you need to understand his vision. While taking in the rabid-looking, titan-sized simian standing astride the World Trade Center towers and plucking fighter jets from the sky, you can practically hear his directives: “Make him bigger, meaner and monky-er!”
The perfect example of Dino’s skewed world view is his masterwork, Flash Gordon. Grand sets and elaborately attired cast members predominate, (although the hero rated only a T-shirt) yet it was all based on a barely-remembered turn-of-the-century character, starring a no-name actor in the lead and employing a script of classic idiocy, lacking any intentional irony. Dino is a walking contradiction, able to generate impressive movie standards while undermining his talents with his lack of taste. He just might be the kind of millionaire who decorates his home like a Taiwanese brothel and using gold filigree to frame his original artwork of “Dogs Shooting Billiards”.
The marriage of Dino and Arnie took place when the Bavarian chunk-muscle was picked to take the lead in another D.D.L. disaster, “Conan the Barbarian”, except something happened on the way to cinematic obscurity–Arnold’s popularity managed to overcome the usual disastrous result. At this time, in his usual fashion, DeLaurentiis made a good move—he signed Arnold to a multi-picture contract—and then negated this craftiness with his own erratic wisdom. After shooting their “Red Sonja” debacle, the two men sat down to discuss their next project and you can clearly see who was the more intuitive of the pair.
While Arnold pushed for the script of a futuristic thriller, Dino instead had him in mind for a trite mob picture. The two haggled over the two movies with Arnold making the wiser of the decisions. He would relent to making “Raw Deal”, but only in exchange for the dissolution of his contract with DeLaurentiis, who was satisfied with the thought of pocketing some quick cash from the receipts. This was yet another error in judgment as his DEG production company would be shuttered in a few short years. Arnold, meanwhile, grew in stature and later in his career, lobbied another studio to purchase the rights to the script Dino irrationally declined to shoot.
That movie was the now aptly titled “Total Recall”, which managed to gross $120 million.
The story continues in part four of MILK CARTON CINEMA: “RAW DEAL”>>>
Posted on October 28, 2003 in Features by Brad Slager
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