Blade Runner, Alien, Chariots of Fire, Braveheart, Star Wars…The list goes on and on for successful films that Alan Ladd Jr. first saw the potential in and allowed the chance to be realized. Now, in a new documentary titled Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies, which premiered on Oct. 6th, film fans at last get to meet the man responsible for seeing some of their favorite films to life.
From the start it’s clear that Laddie was definitely a labor of love by his daughter, Amanda Ladd-Jones. Nine years in the making, including a Kickstarter campaign and plenty of hard work and promotion, Ladd-Jones managed to produce a beautiful film which should touch any person’s heart. It is a film that she wanted to make and put all of her energy into. The finished product certainly is evident of that. Laddie is as much a film about father and daughter as it is about Ladd’s accomplished career.
And accomplished it was. The film features prominent voices in the film industry including Mel Brooks, George Lucas and Ridley Scott—just to name a few. Every one of them has Ladd to thank not only for the films he helped envision, but their careers as well.
The stories they recount in Laddie should be treasures for any fan; stories that most film fans have not heard before—even though they pertain so importantly to the films they love. Watching this, it becomes increasingly clear that in a time when it often came down to one man deciding what films would be made or not, if you were creative you wanted that man to be Alan Ladd Jr.
Ladd clearly has a gift for spotting success where others only saw failure. When Mel Brooks said he wanted to film Young Frankenstein in black and white, others thought he was crazy. Alan Ladd Jr. saw the brilliance of it. When a young George Lucas described a story he had for a space opera involving robots and hairy dog pilots, Ladd saw Lucas’s vision. He alone gave the go ahead for such productions, often risking his reputation and company money, simply because he had an uncanny ability to understand the artist’s vision.
Through the film viewers begin to grow to love the man that–for many of them–they knew nothing about. Though very taciturn in his interviews, often showing none of his true feelings, this quiet movie giant lets people into a very humble world-view of the incredible career he has had. It is impossible for viewers to not become endeared to him by the end of the film.
Along with his life story, Ladd-Jones manages to craft a film that not only holds the well-earned praise her father deserves, but also the more difficult side of growing up in a home with a father often absent with work. She is honest about her feelings and viewers come to love her as well on this quest she has undertaken to get to know her father.
While narrating the film herself, and interviewing the many people her father has so greatly influenced, she is able to piece together the life her father led that she often missed out on. It is a very real story, one that many people–though perhaps from vastly different places–can identify with.
Despite the difficulty of longing for a father who was often not there, Ladd-Jones has told a story in Laddie that is overflowing with love and curiosity for her father. It is a story that the viewers soon come to feel as well; soon want to know more about the man so influential in their lives, though they didn’t even know it.
This is a film that every aspiring film-maker, movie lover and—perhaps most importantly, fan—needs to see. Because without Alan Ladd Jr. we wouldn’t have these films at all. It is astounding to think that without one man we would not have such films as Star Wars, and the amazing culture and influence that it has had over the years. That alone should be enough for everyone to watch this film once they get the chance.