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Director Monte Hellman dies at 91!

Monte Hellman, the director who became a cult hero of American Cinema with his movie “Two-Lane Blacktop is no more. The director died at the age of 91 on Tuesday in California. The news was released by his daughter, Melissa, who shared that Hellman had a fall at his home a week ago, after which he was admitted to Eisenhower Health Hospital in Palm Desert, California.

Monte Hellman was one of the greatest directors, who directed brilliant movies such as “Two-Lane Blacktop,” “The Shooting” and “Road to Nowhere” etc. Even the best directors today, including Quentin Tarantino, are fans of Hellman’s work.

Monte’s daughter Melissa said, “He was my best friend”.

Soon after the news came out, the esteemed people from the industry shared their thoughts, tributes and condolences on social media. Bill Moseley thanked the late director Hellman for hiring him in one of his films. He wrote, “RIP Monte Hellman! Than kyou for hiring me to play Ricky, the Santa Claus Killer, in Silent Night, Deadly Night 3- the first time I ever cried onscreen!”

An American film critic, Richard Brody wrote on Twitter, “In memory and honor of Monte Hellman, the only American director to take up where Antonioni left off—his sunlit version of blanked-out opacity was vital and thrilling because he tuned it to the pulp vibes that he saw and felt and conveyed as authentic American cultural energy.”

The American journalist and author, David Browne also shared his a picture from his book “Fire and Rain” in which he highlighted Hellman’s quote. He wrote, “RIP director Monte Hellman, who spoke with me about the making of “Two-Lane Blacktop”—and James Taylor’s lack of acting chops—for my nook “Fire and Rain”.

Hellman had studied theatre at Stanford University, after which he set up a theatre company in Los Angeles. He was known for his low budget films, most of which turned out to be great and made history.  Besides giving so many historic movies, Hellman also taught with the Film Directing Program at the California Institute of Arts.

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Kathy Lewis

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May 2021
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