Tony Scott: Extraordinary film director leaps to his death; he will be missed

Tony Scott, director of such films as “Unstoppable” and “Man on Fire,” has died. He was 68. Such a huge loss for this family. We loved his movies, especially “Man on Fire” starring Denzel Washington. Every time a movie would come out with Mr. Scott at the helm, we would go see it. As I said, we loved his movies.

Our thoughts and our prayers go out to his loved ones. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to his friends. Our thoughts and our prayers go out. Such a huge loss.

The obvious question: What drives a highly successful motion picture director to jump off the Vincent Thomas bridge  Sunday afternoon around 12:30 p.m. Witnesses apparently told police he parked his car, a Toyota Prius, and then scaled an 8- to 10-foot fence and jumped off the enormously high bridge without a moment’s pause. He was determined, it appears, to leap to his death.

Why? The latest bit of information is that Mr. Scott had brain cancer, at least according to ABC News. Maybe that requires such an ending. I don’t know. Mr. Scott apparently, again according to sources listed in published news articles, left behind a note found in his office and he also apparently, again according to sources listed in published news articles, left behind a note “listing contact information.”

What follows are our thoughts today and we were just fans. We did not know Mr. Scott. We did not know anybody who knew Mr. Scott. We just loved his movies. His work made a difference in our lives, giving us a time of togetherness; a time of shared experience. And in this day and age of smart phones, Ipads and laptop computers, a shared experience is harder to come by.  In fact,  we saw Mr. Scott’s last movie “Unstoppable.” A ridiculous movie about a runaway train that Mr. Scott pulled off yet again. I loved it more than the rest of the clan, and promptly bought it when it became available to purchase.The rest of the family enjoyed it also, but their favorite was “Man on Fire.”

A great movie about a lost soul, John Creasy, who is charged with protecting a little girl, 9-year-old Pita Ramos, in Mexico City. Pita gets kidnapped. Creasy gets shot up, but he finds the strength to continue. He also finds redemption through discovering the kidnappers and killing them. That’s right, Creasy kills them, and he reunites the little girl with her mother. John Creasy dies at the film’s end. It is a violent film. No doubt. But it is a great film, also, because you care about the people in the film.

The essence of good story telling is that you must care about the people in the film. In this film, as in all Mr. Scott’s films, you care.

My family cared about Mr. Scott. When the news broke Sunday night, August 19, 2012, every one of us were stunned. “No, that can’t be true,” my 20-year-old said. We huddled in Brennan’s room as he checked some websites for confirmation. Brennan, 24, is my oldest and is soon to graduate from California Lutheran University with a degree in journalism. He found several websites all announcing this tragedy.

It’s a funny thing about movies, and how they can touch you personally without ever having known the person who works the movies. My father was an actor, James Whitmore. He passed away a few years ago. I grew up around movie sets, and got to know some of the people who make them. Nice people. Funny people. I also learned that it was a tough, tough racket.

Those who make it, like my brother Jim Jr., are hard-working, talented people. Probably a little bit lucky too. I once asked a successful director what he thought was the best thing about movie making. Was it telling a great story? Moving the audience? The awards?

“Nah,” he said. “It’s the friendships. The people you meet and become friends with. They are the best people in the world.”

My family had a friendship with Mr. Scott. Although, we never met him, we liked what he did. He made a difference in our lives. Your work, Mr. Scott, brought my family closer together, and we thank you, sir, for that. Talk soon.


About stevewhitmore

Former award-winning newspaperman and broadcast journalist, both radio and TV, spanning three decades. Army-trained paralegal, court bailiff and prosecutor's lead investigator for the 8th Infantry Division's Judge Advocate General's Corp., Mainz, Germany. 1973-1975.
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One Response to Tony Scott: Extraordinary film director leaps to his death; he will be missed

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