I'm a sucker for a documentary about a legendary figure in the film industry, the insight they can provide into a field I have a real passion for always makes for a compelling viewing experience. In the case of Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies, the legendary figure is Alan Ladd Jr. who I will be honest and say I had never even heard of. What an experience this was for me then because this documentary is a celebration of a man who green lit some of the most iconic films in the history of cinema that, without him, may never had seen the light of day.

Directed by his daughter, Amanda Ladd-Jones, this documentary is a real intimate insight into the life and work of possibly Hollywood's greatest unsung heroes. Comprised of interviews with an array of other famous faces in Hollywood such as Ridley Scott, George Lucas, Mel Gibson, Ben Affleck and Sigourney Weaver, the audience are not only told about the great work Alan Ladd Jr. did but also what he was like as a person, and from the sounds of it he was one of the nicest men in the business.

So much of the discussion revolves around him making what seem like such miniscule changes to films however, in the long run, play into making the films such resounding classics that are still spoken about today; changing the lead character of Alien from a man to woman, giving us the iconic Ellen Ripley in the process, being just one example of how he had an eye for enabling films to make their own mark on the industry. His work behind the scenes on Star Wars being so pivotal towards the film actually being picked up and released by a major studio is another landmark moment in his career, and it's hilarious to see the segment where visitors to a Star Wars convention are asked who he is, most of them either having no idea or taking a stab in the dark at guessing he was a minor character in the original trilogy.

One of the most striking parts of the documentary is where a number of interviewees explain how Alan Ladd Jr. saw cinema as an art that shouldn't conform to formulas that end up releasing the same films year in year out. He had a passion for the artistic integrity of filmmakers and was a major driivng force amidst Hollywood in more ways than one.

With that in mind, Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies becomes a must-watch documentary for all film fans, honouring a man who wasn't just out to make a quick buck, instead wanting to make each film he was involved in as best as possible. The industry could probably do with a few more of his type right now in all honesty.

Verdict: ★★★★


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