By John H. Foote
Canadian filmmaker Ivan Reitman, 75, passed away suddenly this past weekend, dying in his sleep at his home in California.
In the eighties Reitman gave us some of the biggest box office hits of the decade with Meatballs (1980), Stripes (1981), and the massive hit film Ghostbusters (1984). Most recently he worked as executive producer on Ghostbusters – Afterlife (2021) which his Academy Award nominated son Jason directed.
Among the other hits Reitman directed are Ghostbusters II (1989), Kindergarten Cop (1990), Dave (1993), arguably his best film, Junior (1994), and Draft Day (2014), an excellent behind the scenes look at pro football with Kevin Costner.
Reitman was also instrumental on the building of the Bell Lightbox, the official home of the Toronto International Film Festival Group, on the corner of John St. and King St. in downtown Toronto, which the Reitman family owned and gifted to TIFF.
Reitman watched his son become a fine director in his own right, earning Best Director nominations for his films Juno (2007) and Up in the Air (2009), an achievement the senior Reitman never accomplished.
He was instrumental in making Bill Murray a major star in the early eighties, maintaining a lifelong friendship with the hermit like actor.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.