A touching tribute to an outstanding producer, Laddie: The Man Behind The Movies is a documentary that should be appreciated by all film fans. While it is far too short, it remains an enjoyable journey.
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies is the story of Alan Ladd Jr., the Oscar-winning producer and his daughter’s journey to get to know her father not just as “Dad”, but the way his collaborators do—as a doyen of modern American cinema. Through interviews with George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Affleck, Ron Howard, Morgan Freeman, Mel Brooks, Richard Donner, and more, Amanda Ladd-Jones endeavours to better understand her father, Alan Ladd, Jr.
Known to all as Laddie, he is the understated studio chief and Oscar-winning producer behind such films as Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner, Chariots Of Fire, Braveheart, The Omen, Thelma and Louise, and Gone Baby Gone. His intelligence, kindness, and unflagging faith in the people he hired turned him into one of the most successful movie moguls in Hollywood history.
When Amanda Ladd-Jones takes her audience through an example of how unknown producers usually are to audiences, next to no fan asked knew of Alan Ladd Jr.. Perhaps it is the film fan in me who has watched far too many making-of documentaries that Ladd has come up in (specifically Alien). It becomes shocking that some other film fans would not know him as these are the same fans who know one of the most well-known producers in Kevin Feige. Yet, perhaps it is better this way for these men and women can remain behind the scenes to help greenlight the films we need in cinemas.
As the documentary grapples with trying to be both a showcase at the great work that Laddie had achieved and how great a person he was, we also see an attempt to view his personal life, and it is here that Laddie: The Man Behind The Movies begins to slip a little. By being so short in running time, we never seem to get enough time to delve into either topic enough to settle. Each major event in Laddie’s professional career is given 10 minutes or so apiece, with stories about his hand in the productions of the films listed in the synopsis being fascinating. Far more time is needed here, and if anything, this is a documentary that could go on for at least twice the length we eventually get.
By going so quickly through his career, the sheer number of talking heads never gets enough time to share something meaningful with Ladd-Jones. On some occasions, they are cut short, with some getting a line here and there. This is such a shame as Ladd had such a fantastic career that you want to settle into a comfy chair and learn about him. Is it enough to call this a missed opportunity? Perhaps, but then this is a film that was never meant to be something long and detailed. This is a love letter to a producer and a father whose efforts gave us some truly wonderful films.
Those expecting something more need to remember Ladd-Jones opening statements; she wanted to use this documentary to learn more about her fathers’ career. To that endeavour, this is a mission accomplished. We learn a lot here. It seems Amanda can take away a great deal about her father with a conversation with Mel Gibson striking home a lot as he compares his situation with his own daughter, relating to her immediately. It is little touches like making this documentary work to make it more than just a standard biography documentary.
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies is an engrossing watch for those wanting to learn a little more about the industry, and there are fewer greater film producers/studio heads/agents than Alan Ladd Jr.
Laddie: The Man Behind The Movies will be available to rent and buy from 26th April on Sky Store, iTunes/ Apple, YouTube, Google Play and Rakuten.
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