'Deer Hunter' director Michael Cimino dies at 77

The Hollywood community is reacting to the death of film director Michael Cimino.

Eric Weissmann, a friend and former lawyer for the 77-year-old Cimino, said Cimino's body was found by police Saturday at his Los Angeles home after friends said they were unable to reach him by phone.

The Los Angeles County coroner's website reported Cimino died Thursday at his residence. But the office deferred a cause of death, pending further investigation.

In 1979, Cimino won an Oscar and a Golden Globe best director award for the seminal Vietnam film "The Deer Hunter.''

Director William Friedkin was among those tweeting their respects after Variety, citing a tweet from Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux that Cimino had died.

"I wish I had paid tribute to Michael Cimino while he was alive,'' tweeted Friedkin, who directed the landmark 1970s films "The French Connection'' and "The Exorcist.'' "He was an important and masterful film maker. We will always have his work.''

Cimino will be remembered for two late-1970s films that met with drastically opposite receptions.

"The Deer Hunter'' -- released in 1978 -- was an unqualified triumph, winning best picture honors in addition to best director.

Flush with the success of that film, Cimino set off to make the epic western morality tale "Heaven's Gate.'' Released in 1980 by United Artists, the film was more than three times over its budget. The film -- which flopped and tarnished Cimino's reputation in the process -- is blamed by many for helping to bring down the studio.

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