By now, many of you will have heard the sad news that director Tony Scott, 68, has died. The younger brother of fellow director Ridley Scott, he apparently took his life by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge near San Pedro, California. A suicide note was found in his car, which was parked nearby. You can read the full story here.

I’m still reeling from the news, and saddened by the manner of his passing. I’ve never met the man, and I have no idea what demons he was struggling with.  But I feel desperately sorry for his family, who must now wrestle with the aftermath in the glare of the media spotlight. My condolences and prayers go to them. But I hope they will be comforted in some small way by the knowledge that Tony Scott left a body of work to be proud of, and which has impacted millions. Personally, he was one of my favourite directors.

In all fairness, Tony was probably eclipsed by big brother Ridley, who was the mastermind of iconic movies like Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982) and Gladiator (2000). But Tony was a visionary in his own right, being one of the pioneers of the high concept movie, though I know not everyone will say this was a good thing. Essentially, high concept is an ironic term referring to films which can be summed up in one sentence. For example, Waterworld (1995) was ‘Mad Max on water’, while Air Force One (1997) was ‘Die Hard on a plane’. The Rock (1996) was “Die Hard in a prison”, etc etc.

He was known for jump cuts, snappy dialogue and always, always gorgeous cinematography. Scott’s output ranged from vampire classic The Hunger (1983), to the acclaimed True Romance (1993) to his most recent, Unstoppable (2010). He worked with big, big stars such as Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Catherine Deneuve and Gene Hackman. Scott also had a very fruitful collaboration with Denzel Washington, working on five movies together, starting with the Quentin Tarantino-scripted Crimson Tide (1995). He had recently collaborated with Ridley Scott as producers of the upcoming A&E medical mini-series Coma.

Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman face off in Crimson Tide ©Walt Disney Pictures

But the Tony Scott movie that really did it for me was the classic Top Gun (1986), which made Tom Cruise a star and left a huge cultural impact. Many of its stars – Val Kilmer, Tim Robbins, Meg Ryan et al – have also gone on to fruitful careers off the back of a film with, well, a pretty rubbish premise. But WHAT A MOVIE. A chiseled leading man, a hot leading woman, action, drama, tragedy, redemption and a rocking soundtrack (Kenny Loggins! and er, Berlin!): Top Gun really did have it all, Tarantino’s Maverick-is-a-closet-gay deconstruction notwithstanding. I first saw it at the age of six, and quotes from the movie are still running around in my head. Check out this classic dressing down that Maverick (Cruise) and Goose (Anthony Edwards) receive at the hands of their CO Stinger (James Tolkan).

 

But it wasn’t all just non-stop action: there were plenty of quietly intense moments too, by some very good actors. Here are some clips from Scott’s films, most of them courtesy of @BRIANMBENDIS, who has been tweeting them all day. 

 

True Romance: Walken and Hopper do a little back and forth

 

Spy Game: Redford plays the mentor to Pitt

 

Crimson Tide: Washington vs Hackman

 

Man On Fire: Washington and Dakota Fanning share a wonderful chemistry

 

Which was your favourite Tony Scott movie? What was your favourite moment?