John Landis Deconstructs Trailers of Great 20th Century Films: Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, 2001 & More

If you call your­self a film fan, you may have heard of Trail­ers from Hell, a video series where­in famous direc­tors intro­duce and pro­vide com­men­tary on trail­ers of the films they love, the films they’ve made, or both. You’ve def­i­nite­ly heard of it if you call your­self a fan of schlock film, since some of the Trail­ers from Hell include that of The Giant Claw with com­men­tary by Joe Dante, that of Teen Wolf with com­men­tary by Ti West, and that of One Mil­lion Years B.C. with com­men­tary by John Lan­dis.

Lan­dis, direc­tor of come­dies like Ani­mal HouseThe Blues Broth­ers, and (some­how, his favorite of the bunch) Com­ing to Amer­i­ca, has record­ed a great many episodes, and no sur­prise, since he enjoys schlock so much that he actu­al­ly made a film of that name at the age of 21 — and then did a Trail­er from Hell on it at the age of 63. But as one of those film­mak­ers pos­sessed of a cinephil­ia as strong as his mas­tery of the craft itself, his love for movies extends to the widest pos­si­ble spec­trum of theme and sen­si­bil­i­ty: hence his episodes here on the decid­ed­ly non-schlocky Cit­i­zen KaneSun­set Boule­vard2001: A Space Odyssey, and La Stra­da.

Much about Lan­dis makes him exact­ly the kind of guy you want to hear talk­ing about movies, be they movies like Felli­ni Satyri­con or movies like King Kong vs. Godzil­la. Not only does his sheer enthu­si­asm for film­go­ing come through in his every obser­va­tion, but he brings to bear plen­ty of expe­ri­ence with the nuts and bolts of film­mak­ing. He dis­cuss­es, in the brief time these trail­ers allow, not just the qual­i­ties of the fea­tures but of the trail­ers them­selves. He also throws in, when rel­e­vant, fas­ci­nat­ing anec­dotes from his life as a movie­go­er and moviemak­er. And above it all, he does it with a wonki­ly cinephilic sense of humor, as you’ll under­stand right when you hear him intro­duce him­self in each episode — and as you’d prob­a­bly expect from the guy who direct­ed Ken­tucky Fried Movie.

You can watch all the Trail­ers from Hell from Lan­dis, Dante, West, Karyn Kusama, Mick Gar­ris, John Bad­ham, and oth­ers on their Youtube chan­nel.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Moviedrome: Film­mak­er Alex Cox Pro­vides Video Intro­duc­tions to 100+ Clas­sic Cult Films

Watch Orson Welles’ Trail­er for Cit­i­zen Kane: As Inno­v­a­tive as the Film Itself

Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey Gets a Brand New Trail­er to Cel­e­brate Its Dig­i­tal Re-Release

Watch 25 Alfred Hitch­cock Trail­ers, Excit­ing Films in Their Own Right

700 Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, etc.

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • TJ says:

    “Sweet Char­i­ty” is a musi­cal ver­sion of Fellini’s “Nights of Cabiria” not “La Stra­da”. C’mon Lan­dis, get it togeth­er.

  • Christopher Palermo says:

    A very errat­ic unfo­cused com­men­tary from a mediocre direc­tor. Thank­ful­ly I was lucky enough to have attend­ed class­es with pas­sion­ate and artic­u­late film schol­ars the likes of Mor­ton Mar­cus who could define these films with respect and zest.

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