From ‘Jaws’ to ‘A Few Good Men,’ WWII veteran David Brown has produced some incredible films

Joel Searls Avatar
david brown
Helen Gurley and David Brown.

David Brown is most known for his producing of such films as Jaws, The Sting, The Verdict, Driving Miss Daisy, A Few Good Men, Cocoon, Jaws 2, The Eiger Sanction, Kiss the Girls, Deep Impact and Along Came a Spider, many of which have set box office records or won many Oscars. He also produced Broadway shows such as the Sweet Smell of Success: The Musical and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Brown was an educated man who earned degrees from Stanford and Columbia. He partnered with Richard Zanuck of Hollywood royalty to produce films. Before his time in Hollywood, Brown served in World War II in the Army. He was known for his professionalism, manners, mustache, championing writers and for his impeccable attire. Many of his films you are familiar with and can likely now see further his impact in their success.

Here are the films of WWII veteran and producer David Brown


steven spielberg and david brown
Steven Spielberg with David Brown (right).

The first of the summer blockbusters which further launched Steven Spielberg’s career into the stratosphere, Brown served as a producer on the film. The story is about how a small fishing town is terrorized by a killer shark that must be hunted and eliminated. The film was adapted from the book of the same name by Peter Benchley, a Marine Corps veteran. The movie was an arduous adventure being over time and over budget, some of which was from the mechanical shark that did not like to work, especially when needed.

It was shot mostly on location at Martha’s Vineyard and starred many top-level actors of its day including Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gray and Richard Dreyfus. The score was done by John Williams and the movie was edited by the excellent Verna Fields. Jaws cost $9M to make and returned $476.5M at the box office. Not bad for a movie about a killer shark.

Driving Miss Daisy

driving miss daisy david brown
Morgan Freeman, Bruce Beresford, Jessica Tandy and Dan Ackroyd are on set for Driving Miss Daisy.

Driving Miss Daisy hit the silver screen on December 15th, 1989 to critical acclaim. It was based on the play of the same name and Morgan Freeman reprised his role from the original Off-Broadway production. The story follows Daisy over 25 years of her life through a host of relationships and emotions which focus on her home life, religious activities, friends and family. The film stars Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Ackroyd and Patti LuPone. It won four Oscars, Best Picture, Best Actress (Tandy), Best Makeup and Best Adapted Screenplay. As of 2022, it is the most recent PG film to have won Best Picture. It cost $7.5M in 1989 dollars and made $145.8M at the box office.

A Few Good Men

a few good men david brown film
Tom Cruise, Rob Reiner, Demi Moore and Kevin Bacon behind the scenes of A Few Good Men.

This is a movie that taught us all about handling the truth and not pissing off Jack Nicholson, aka Col Nathan Jessup. Well, it taught us a lot more, but those points do stick out in memory. The film premiered in the HQ of film premieres at least at the time in Westwood, CA home of UCLA on December 9th, 1992. Another critically acclaimed hit for Mr. Brown and company, the movie follows the back door happenings in the Marine Corps and what could occur if a Marine went outside of their chain of command and how underhanded discipline could get people killed.

The movie is based on Aaron Sorkin’s play of the same name and stars Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Cuba Good Jr. and Kiefer Sutherland. It was nominated for four Oscars which includes Best Picture. The film was made for about $40M and grossed $243M at the big ole box office. Another win for Mr. Brown.


ron howard with cast of cocoon
Ron Howard (center) with the cast of Cocoon in 1985.

A fun comedy-science fiction film about a group of retirement home residents that find a “fountain of youth” in a swimming pool next door to their home. The surprising source of the pool’s rejuvenation elements are aliens that are being prepared for a long space journey that inhabit the pool in well…cocoons.

Directed by the venerable Ron Howard and starring some Golden Era actors such as Don Ameche, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and newer actors for the period with Wilford Brimley, Brian Dennehy (he’s still mad at John Rambo), Steve Guttenberg (during a break from the police academy) and Tahnee Welch (Raquel’s daughter). The movie was filmed mostly on location in St. Petersburg, Florida at many now historical buildings. It earned two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Ameche) and Best Visual Effects. The film was made for a mere $17.5M and brought in $85.3M.

The Sting

the sting
Robert Redford, David Brown and Richard F. Zanuck on the set of The Sting.

The Sting hit theaters back on December 25th, 1973, a true Christmas gift. Just a wee bit ago. It had an all-star cast with Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Eileen Brennan, Charles Durning (famous actor and World War II veteran) and Robert Earl Jones (yes Darth Vader’s father, heh heh heh). It was directed by Marine Corps veteran George Roy Hill.

We get to watch expert grifters (Newman and Redford) take on a serious mob boss (Shaw) to get his money. It won seven Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design and Best Scoring. Only costing $5.5M it returned $159.6M at the box office. Another hit for Brown and co.

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