|Who is it?||Writer, Director, Producer|
|Birth Day||February 03, 1939|
|Birth Place||New York City, New York, United States|
|Age||81 YEARS OLD|
|Died On||July 2, 2016(2016-07-02) (aged 77)\nBeverly Hills, California, United States|
|Education||Michigan State University (BA Graphic Arts, 1959) Yale University (BFA Painting, 1961; MFA Painting, 1963)|
|Occupation||Film director · Producer Screenwriter · Author|
|Years active||1974–1996 (directing)|
"always hanging around with kids my parents didn't approve of. Those guys were so alive. When I was fifteen I spent three weeks driving all over Brooklyn with a guy who was following his girlfriend. He was convinced she was cheating on him, and he had a gun, he was going to kill her. There was such passion and intensity about their lives. When the rich kids got together, the most we ever did was cross against a red light."
One of his final projects was writing a three-hour-long adaptation of André Malraux's 1933 novel Man's Fate, about the early days of the Chinese Revolution. The story was to have focused on several Europeans living in Shanghai during the tragic turmoil that characterized the onset of China's Communist regime. "The screenplay, I think, is the best one I've ever done," Cimino once said, adding that he had "half the money; [we're] trying to raise the other half." The roughly $25 million project was to be filmed wholly on location in Shanghai and would have benefited from the support of China's government, which said it would provide some $2 million worth of local labor costs. Cimino had been scouting locations in China since 2001. "There was never a better time to try to do Man's Fate", Cimino said, "because Man's Fate is what it's all about right now. It's about the nature of love, of friendship, the nature of honor and dignity. How fragile and important all of those things are in a time of crisis." Martha De Laurentiis, who with her husband Dino helped produce Year of the Dragon and Desperate Hours with Cimino, read his script for Man's Fate and passed on it. "If you edit it down, it could be a very tight, beautiful, sensational movie," she said, "but violent, and ultimately a subject matter that I don't think America is that interested in."
Cimino was born in New York City on February 3, 1939. A third-generation Italian-American, Cimino and his brothers grew up with their parents in Old Westbury, Long Island. He was regarded as a Prodigy at the private schools his parents sent him to, but rebelled as an adolescent by consorting with delinquents, getting into fights, and coming home drunk. Of this time, Cimino described himself as
Cimino gave various dates for his birth, usually shaving a couple of years off to seem younger, including February 3, 1943; November 16, 1943; and February 3, 1952. Many biographies about Cimino, such as the "Michael Cimino" entries in David Thomson's The New Biographical Dictionary of Film and Ephraim Katz's Film Encyclopedia, list his year of birth as 1943. In reference to Cimino's interview with Leticia Kent on December 10, 1978, Steven Bach said, "Cimino wasn't thirty-five but a few months shy of forty."
Cimino graduated from Westbury High School in 1956. He entered Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. At Michigan State, Cimino majored in graphic arts, was a member of a weight-lifting club, and participated in a group to welcome incoming students. He graduated in 1959 with honors and won the Harry Suffrin Advertising Award. He was described in the 1959 Red Cedar Log yearbook as having tastes that included blondes, Thelonious Monk, Chico Hamilton, Mort Sahl, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and "drinking, preferably vodka."
At Yale, Cimino continued to study painting as well as architecture and art history and became involved in school dramatics. In 1962, while still at Yale, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve. He trained for five months at Fort Dix, New Jersey and had a month of medical training in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Cimino graduated from Yale University, receiving his BFA in 1961 and his MFA in 1963, both in painting.
Born in New York City, he graduated from Yale University in 1963 and began his career filming commercials. He moved to Los Angeles to take up screenwriting in 1971. After co-writing the script of Magnum Force and Silent Running he wrote the preliminary script Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. Clint Eastwood read the script and sent it to his personal production company, which allowed Cimino to direct the film. After its success, Cimino co-wrote, directed, and produced the 1978 Academy Award-winning film The Deer Hunter. His next film, Heaven's Gate (1980), proved to be a financial failure. Cimino directed four movies after Heaven's Gate, but none were as successful as The Deer Hunter.
During the production of The Deer Hunter, Cimino had given co-workers (such as Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and associate Producer Joann Carelli) the impression that much of the storyline was biographical, somehow related to the director's own experience and based on the lives of men he had known during his Service in Vietnam. Just as the film was about to open, Cimino gave an interview to The New York Times in which he claimed that he had been "attached to a Green Beret medical unit" at the time of the Tet Offensive of 1968. When the Times reporter, who had not been able to corroborate this, questioned the studio about it, studio executives panicked and fabricated "evidence" to support the story. Universal Studios President Thom Mount commented at the time, "I know this guy. He was no more a medic in the Green Berets than I'm a rutabaga." Tom Buckley, a veteran Vietnam correspondent for the Times, corroborated that Cimino had done a stint as an Army medic, but that the Director had never been attached to the Green Berets. Cimino's active Service – six months while a student at Yale in 1962 – had been as a reservist who was never deployed to Vietnam. Cimino's publicist reportedly said that the filmmaker intended to sue Buckley, but Cimino never did.
In 1971, Cimino moved to Los Angeles to start a career as a Screenwriter. According to Cimino, it was Carelli that got him into screenwriting: "[Joann] actually talked me into it. I'd never really written anything ever before. I still don't regard myself as a Writer. I've probably written thirteen to fourteen screenplays by  and I still don't think of myself that way. Yet, that's how I make a living." Cimino added, "I started writing screenplays principally because I didn't have the money to buy books or to option properties. At that time you only had a chance to direct if you owned a screenplay which some star wanted to do, and that's precisely what happened with Thunderbolt and Lightfoot." Cimino gained representation from Stan Kamen of william Morris Agency. The spec script Thunderbolt and Lightfoot was shown to Clint Eastwood, who bought it for his production company, Malpaso and allowed Cimino a chance to direct the film. Cimino co-wrote two scripts (the science fiction film Silent Running and Eastwood's second Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force) before moving on to directing. Cimino's work on Thunderbolt and Lightfoot impressed Eastwood enough to ask him to work on the script for Magnum Force before Thunderbolt and Lightfoot began production.
Cimino moved up to directing on the feature Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974). The film stars Clint Eastwood as a Korean War vet named "Thunderbolt" who takes a young drifter named "Lightfoot", played by Jeff Bridges, under his wing. When Thunderbolt's old partners try to find him, he and Lightfoot make a pact with them to pull one last big heist. Eastwood was originally slated to direct it himself, but Cimino impressed Eastwood enough to change his mind. The film became a solid box office success at the time, making $25,000,000 at the box office with a budget of $4,000,000 and earned Bridges an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
With the success of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Cimino says he "got a lot of offers, but decided to take a gamble. I would only get involved with projects I really wanted to do." He rejected several offers before pitching an ambitious Vietnam War film to EMI executives in November 1976. To Cimino's surprise, EMI accepted the film. Cimino went on to direct, co-write, and co-produce The Deer Hunter (1978). The film stars Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage as three buddies in a Pennsylvania steel mill town who fight in the Vietnam War and rebuild their lives in the aftermath. The film went over-schedule and over-budget, but it became a massive critical and commercial success, and won five Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture for Cimino.
John Foote questioned whether or not Cimino deserved his Oscars for The Deer Hunter: "It seemed in the spring of 1979, following the Oscar ceremony, there was a sense in the industry that if the Academy could have taken back their votes — which saw The Deer Hunter and Director Michael Cimino winning for Best Picture and Best Director — they would have done so."
Heaven's Gate was such a devastating critical and commercial bomb that public perception of Cimino's work was tainted in its wake; the majority of his subsequent films achieved neither popular nor critical success. Many critics who had originally praised The Deer Hunter became far more reserved about the picture and about Cimino after Heaven's Gate. The story of the making of the movie, and UA's subsequent downfall, was documented in Steven Bach's book Final Cut. Cimino's film was somewhat rehabilitated by an unlikely source: the Z Channel, a cable pay TV channel that at its peak in the mid-1980s served 100,000 of Los Angeles's most influential film professionals. After the unsuccessful release of the reedited and shortened Heaven's Gate, Jerry Harvey, the channel's programmer, decided to play Cimino's original 219-minute cut on Christmas Eve 1982. The reassembled movie received admiring reviews. The full length, Director approved version, was released on LaserDisc by MGM/UA, and later reissued on DVD and Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection.
In 1984, after being unable to finalize a deal with Director Herbert Ross, Paramount Pictures offered the job of directing Footloose to Cimino. According to Screenwriter Dean Pitchford, Cimino was at the helm of Footloose for four months, making more and more extravagant demands in terms of set construction and overall production. In the process, Cimino reimagined the film as a musical-comedy inspired by The Grapes of Wrath. Paramount realized that it potentially had another Heaven's Gate on its hands. Cimino was fired and Ross was brought on to direct the picture.
Film director/screenwriter Oliver Stone, who collaborated with Cimino in Year of the Dragon (1985), said of Cimino: "I have to admit I liked working with Michael Cimino, and I learned a lot from him."
In 1987, Cimino attempted to make an epic saga about the 1920s Irish rebel Michael Collins, but the film had to be abandoned due to budget, weather and script problems. The film was to have been funded by Nelson Entertainment. Shortly after the Michael Collins biopic was cancelled, Cimino quickly started pre-production work on Santa Ana Wind, a contemporary romantic drama set in L.A. The start date for shooting was to have been early December 1987. The screenplay was written by Floyd Mutrux and the film was to be bankrolled by Nelson Entertainment, which also backed Collins. Cimino's representative added that the film was "about the San Fernando Valley and the friendship between two guys" and "more intimate" than Cimino's previous big-budget work like Heaven's Gate and the yet-to-be-released The Sicilian. However, Nelson Holdings International Ltd. cancelled the project after disclosing that its banks, including Security Pacific National Bank, had reduced the company's borrowing power after Nelson failed to meet certain financial requirements in its loan agreements. A spokesman for Nelson said the cancellation occurred "in the normal course of Business," but declined to elaborate.
In 1990, Cimino directed a remake of the Humphrey Bogart film The Desperate Hours starring Anthony Hopkins and Mickey Rourke. The film was another box-office disappointment, grossing less than $3 million. His last feature-length film was 1996's Sunchaser with Woody Harrelson and Jon Seda. While nominated for the Palme d'Or at that year's Cannes Film Festival, the film was released to video.
In 2001, Cimino published his first novel, Big Jane. Later that year, the French Minister of Culture decorated him Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and the Prix Littéraire Deauville 2001, an award that previously went to Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. "Oh, I'm the happiest, I think, I've ever been!" he said in response. Cimino also wrote a book called Conversations en miroir with Francesca Pollock in 2003.
Film director/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino has also expressed great admiration and praise for Cimino's The Deer Hunter, especially with regards to the Vietnamese POW Russian roulette sequence: "The Russian roulette sequence is just out and out one of the best pieces of film ever made, ever shot, ever edited, ever performed. ... Anybody can go off about Michael Cimino all they want but when you get to that sequence you just have to shut up." Tarantino also loved Cimino's Year of the Dragon and listed its climax as his favorite killer movie moment in 2004.
While Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Francis Ford Coppola, Gene Hackman, Sidney Lumet and Robert De Niro all gave interviews for the 2009 John Cazale documentary I Knew It Was You, Cimino refused to do so.
In 2011, the French movie critic Jean-Baptiste Thoret wrote a large profile on Michael Cimino for Les Cahiers du Cinéma. Cimino appeared on the cover.
In 2013, Thoret published in France an acclaimed book, Michael Cimino, les voix perdues de l'Amérique (lost voices of America). Flammarion. ISBN 978-2081261600
Cimino died July 2, 2016, at age 77 at his home in Beverly Hills, California. Eric Weissmann, a friend and former Lawyer of Cimino, said that friends had been unable to reach Cimino by phone for the last few days and called the police, who found him dead in his bed. Weissmann stated that he had not been aware of Cimino having any illness.