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RIP George P. Cosmatos

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RIP George P. Cosmatos

Old 04-26-05, 10:25 AM
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RIP George P. Cosmatos

I just read over at AICN that he died April 19th of lung cancer.

Selected filmography:

Tombstone
Leviathan
Cobra
Rambo: First Blood Pt II
The Cassandra Crossing

Write-up from a friend of his:

This is Dr. Hfuhruhurr reporting in with some sad news about the passing of a sweet, passionate, occasionally gruff but charmingly cynical film director and life long film lover named George P. Cosmatos. This is the first time I've ever had to write something like this so please bear with me if I ramble because I have had the pleasure of knowing George for the past four years and he had become a dear friend.

I enjoyed nothing more than having a cigar with him and listening as he talked about his experiences as a director or about one of his favorie films as a fan. When this man talked about the artform of cinema, he lit up so much that it would often light my cigar at the same time. You never saw someone so gleeful or enthusiastic as George when he talked about shots from Hitchcock films, music cues from John Ford westerns, the beauty of Grace Kelly... and when he discovered a film I hadn't seen, like CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS or I AM CUBA, for example, he would get me so excited to see it that I'd stop at every video store on the way home until I found a copy. George never led me astray with his recommendations. The next time I'd bump into him, he wanted to know if I saw it yet (it was spoken with an implied threat of bodily harm if I hadn't!). When I said I had seen it, he'd smile and we'd sit down and talk about the film for hours (actually he'd talk and I'd listen). He would often give me a shot-by-shot analysis that was like having my own private film historian on hand. I truly believe that he has seen ever film ever made (and considering that he got his start as a film critic, this is probably true).

For several years prior to our first meeting, George and I had been members of the same cigar club in Beverly Hills. He was one of the regulars and every time he walked in he was treated with the utmost respect, like he was a mafia Don. He could be gruff, in the old Zorba the Greek kind of way, but everyone soon realized that he was a teddy bear underneath. As for me, having grown up in the 80's, I'd always get excited. "That's George Cosmatos! The man who made Rambo!" I always wanted to introduce myself, but I was too chicken to approach him. Then one crowded day at the club when I was sitting on a sofa reading a script, I heard this gruff, accented voice: "Mind if I join you?" I looked up and saw George, big cigar in his mouth, not waiting for my reply to sit down next to me. My heart was racing but I was afraid to say anything to him. Luckily he broke the ice and when he discovered that I was a screenwriter he bagan to talk film. And talk and talk and talk. It was mesmerizing. All I kept thinking was "Holy Shit! I'm sitting here smoking cigars and talking film with the man who made Rambo!"

I finally mustered up the courage to tell Geroge I had been a huge Rambo fan and had seen it eight times during it's summer-long stay at my local theater (for those of you who find this odd, please remember that I'm this site's token right-winger!). It was then that I learned that George did not like being known as the guy who made RAMBO. He was proud of, if not baffled by, its success, but when he talked about RAMBO, all he wanted to talk about was the great pleasure he had working with Jack Cardiff, the master cinematographer who shot that film. He went on for at least an hour about Jack's lifetime of work. George was much prouder of his earlier work, films like THE CASSANDRA CROSSING and his earlier foreign films and the great movie star he had the pleasure of working with (he loved the word "pleasure"). He was also quite proud of TOMBSTONE, a film that was damn good to begin with but keeps on getting better with age. Nevertheless, George humored me with a few Rambo and Cobra stories. From that day on whenever I saw George by himself (and he looked like he was in a good mood) I'd sit down next to him and get another film history/appreciation lesson. It was priceless and I'll treasure those days forever.

Two of George's three great passions in life were film and art which is why it was heartbreaking and tragic when he lost his vision last year due to a freak accident (or, if you'll indulge my anger -- due to the complete incompetence of Canada's socialized medicine/ butchery system). What should have been a routine operation (and I know because I had the same surgery myself) turned into a nightmare. I'll never forget the phone call I got from him a few days after his surgery. "They blinded me!" He sounded so scared and fragile, a world away from the gruff, boisterous, passionate old Greek I had known before We had all hoped that it was just a temporary side effect but unfortunatley we were wrong. From almost the time it happened Geroge mentally retreated into a waking dream state where he believed he could "see." It was the only way he could cope. This man's life had been visual, he was on the verge of making his directorial comeback and now he was blind. It was devastating to watch his mental and emotional retreat. But who could blame him?

George P. Cosmatos passed away last week after a year or darkness, the likes of which we would never even want to imagine. I felt like I had been sucker punched when I heard the news. I was half expecting to see him show up at the cigar club one day, big ol' Cuban in his mouth, saying "Can you believe it!? I can see again!" I was sad, angry, confused. How could this happen? Last year he was telling me I had to drop everything and rent CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS and now he was gone. It was a sad, cruel, uncalled for bit of cosmic injustice.

Then I remembered George's third great passion in life (and number one on his list):his late wife whom he had lost a few years ago and whom he had missed terribly every day since. He spoke of her often and which such pure devotion and love that it could turn the worst cynic (such as myself) into a hopless romantic. A couple of times when I visited him after he lost his vision, he would be happily talking to someone who wasn't there. I'd interupt to tell him I was there and he would smile and introduce me to his wife.. I believe she was with him all through his blidness, providing an inner light during every moment of his darkness. And now I believe that he is completely bathed in light, reunited with her at last, and spending an eternity together in a beautiful after-life that is lit like a Jack Cardiff film. And I'm sure he thinks it is a pleasure to be there.

And George, my dear friend, it has been my pleasure to have known you. I'll never look at movies the same.
Old 04-26-05, 11:06 AM
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I heard about his passing last week, he will be missed. I'd not seen him at the club in quite some time and hadn't heard about his blinding. So sad.
Old 04-26-05, 12:43 PM
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That's too bad. Rambo Part 2 is, imo, the best damn stupid action movie out there. Love that flick.
Old 04-26-05, 12:53 PM
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Will definitely be missed. Didn't even hear about him losing his vision.

I think I'll watch Tombstone and Rambo 2 tonight.
Old 04-26-05, 03:26 PM
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I'd never wish death on anyone but I still say this guy is responsible for the single lousiest director's commentary track I've ever suffered through (RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II)...
Old 04-26-05, 04:26 PM
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RIP

I love Of Unknown Origin.
Old 04-26-05, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Filmmaker
I'd never wish death on anyone but I still say this guy is responsible for the single lousiest director's commentary track I've ever suffered through (RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II)...
but with that comment, idiotic imo...you have, haven't you?
Old 04-26-05, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by scott1598
but with that comment, idiotic imo...you have, haven't you?
How is that idiotic. It was a bad commentary. Doesn't mean anyone wants anyone dead.

You have a lot of anger in your posts.. sheesh.
Old 04-26-05, 07:38 PM
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I'm pretty sure Filmmaker doesn't want him dead but that a really stupid comment to post in a thread about the guys death.
Old 04-26-05, 08:15 PM
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Not necessarily. When someone dies people have a tendency to overlook the bad and focus only on the good. I like when people break that mold.

Anyhow, I've nothing bad to say about Mr. Cosmatos. I've only seen Tombstone, but I absolutely loved it. The best western in the last 20 years IMHO. Sad, very sad.
Old 04-26-05, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by RyoHazuki
I'm pretty sure Filmmaker doesn't want him dead but that a really stupid comment to post in a thread about the guys death.
thank you. saying something like "i don't wish death on anyone"??? why would you even post that in regards to very negative comment about a commentary. it in essence is wishing the very thing because of it...
i have absolutely no anger in any of these posts. i just found it idiotic to post something like this in a thread that is merely supposed to reflect on a person's life because of their death.
Old 04-27-05, 10:04 AM
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I take it back...I wouldn't mind your death...he he...

Lemme get this straight...calling Cosmatos out for giving the most insipid commentary track ever is tantamount to wishing him dead? Um, no, it would be tantamount to me saying I hope I never have to listen to one of his commentary tracks ever again; I will, however, continue to watch his capable direction of RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD, PART II with appreciation...
Old 04-27-05, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Filmmaker
I'd never wish death on anyone but I still say this guy is responsible for the single lousiest director's commentary track I've ever suffered through (RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II)...
read what you said! the way you said it is "tantamount" why would you even mention it? i understand you hate the commentary and i am sure that you didn't mean death as such, but the way you phrase implies that because of this "insipid" commentary, that maybe if he were dead it would be ok.
Old 04-27-05, 11:05 AM
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You may wanna check the date on that milk you had for breakfast.
Old 04-27-05, 12:26 PM
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RIP George, and thank you so very much for Tombstone.
Old 04-28-05, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by natevines
I've only seen Tombstone, but I absolutely loved it. The best western in the last 20 years IMHO
Agree 100%

RIP Mr. Cosmatos.

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