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A successful director, John Landis is best known for his comedies, which include National Lampoon's Animal House, The Blues Brothers and Trading Places.
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A successful director, John Landis is best known for his comedies, which include National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), The Blues Brothers (1980) and Trading Places (1983). Branching out into television, Landis helped create the HBO comedy Dream On in the early 1990s. More recently, Landis has directed episodes of such television shows as Psych, Masters of Horror and Fear Itself.
Director, screenwriter and actor John Landis was born on August 3, 1950, in Chicago, Illinois. A successful director, John Landis is best known for his comedies, which include National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), The Blues Brothers (1980), and Trading Places (1983). He started out his career in the mail room at 20th Century Fox and soon found other behind-the-scenes jobs, including working as a stuntman.
Landis was also a member of the crew for the film Kelly's Heroes (1970), a World War II comedy starring Clint Eastwood, Don Rickles and Telly Savalas. An admirer of John Ford and Billy Wilder, he wanted to become a director. His first effort was the 1973 horror comedy Schlock, for which he wrote the screenplay. Landis also starred in it as the title character—a monster created by makeup artist Rick Baker.
For his next project, Landis directed the comedy Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), which featured a series of skits that spoofed a number of film genres and other forms of media. He went to direct his first big box office hit—National Lampoon's Animal House (1978). Written by Harold Ramis, Doug Kenney and Chris Miller, the film followed the exploits of a group of raffish fraternity brothers who live at the infamous Delta House. The film featured a number of talented performers, including comedian John Belushi as Bluto, the most brutish and funny member of the Deltas. While some were grossed out by some of the humor, others enjoyed this fun adventure as the Deltas struck back at their college administration and their fraternity enemies the Omegas.
Again working with Belushi, Landis directed The Blues Brothers (1980). The film, co-written by Landis and Belushi's co-star Dan Aykroyd, told the offbeat tale of two brothers who seek to reunite their blues band to save the orphanage they grew up in. Considered over the top by some critics, The Blues Brothers also received a lukewarm reception from filmgoers. Over the years, however, it has become revered as a comedy classic. The film also featured performances by such great blues and R&B performers as John Lee Hooker, James Brown and Aretha Franklin.
The following year, Landis returned to the horror comedy genre with An American Werewolf in London (1981), which starred David Naughton. He had reteamed with Rick Baker for this gory story of two Americans attacked by a werewolf while on vacation. Despite some mixed reviews from critics, the film was popular with movie audiences.
The next two years were a challenging time for Landis.
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