Thursday, 12 November 2020

Cinematographer Jack N. Green’s Aerial Work Led to Gigs on Clint Eastwood Movies


Cinematographer Jack N. Green’s Aerial Work Led to Gigs on Clint Eastwood Movies

It’s always great to occasionally focus on individual members of Clint’s regular crew. I am very grateful to our U.S. correspondent Kevin Walsh who recently sent me this article which first appeared in Variety during August 2019.

Cinematographer Jack N. Green is proof that nice guys sometimes finish first — even in Hollywood. Born in 1939, the San Francisco native travelled a long-rising arc in his career, which includes distinguished stints shooting aerial sequences for documentaries and some of the most iconic films of the 1960s, eventually becoming director of photography on a run of Clint Eastwood movies and more recent comedies such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Hot Tub Time Machine” and two “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” movies.

Green’s parents, Trudy and John Sr., had a shared fascination for photography and rigged up a home darkroom that made a strong artistic impact on their son.
Graduating from high school and barber college at 17, Green planned to make that job his career. But all that changed when he was befriended by shop regular Joe Dieves, a former World War II combat cameraman. Enamoured of Dieves’ stories, Green soon joined him, working on small television productions for companies like San Francisco’s W.A. Palmer.

Dieves sponsored Green for union membership in 1965, and the next summer Green handled assistant cameraman duties for a documentary on the film “The Way West,” flying aerials over Oregon. He subsequently worked with John Lowry Prods., crewing on more helicopter gigs and moving full-time to Los Angeles in 1968.

Risky aerials became Green’s bread and butter. He filmed airborne montages that appeared in “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” chase scenes for “Bullitt” and naval pictorials for “Tora! Tora! Tora!” He earned his operator chops one set-up at a time, handling urban flyovers on “Dirty Harry,” Carmel’s enchanted coastline for “Play Misty for Me” and challenging coverage of rafting sequences for “Rooster Cogburn.”

“My break came with [cinematographer] Michael Watkins on [producer] Roger Corman’s ‘Fighting Mad,’” he says. A study in guerrilla cinematography in terms of the schedule and the crew, the picture required “off-the-cuff shooting” that few but Green could handle.

When Green was drafted by friend and cinematographer Rexford Metz to operate B-camera on Eastwood’s “The Gauntlet,” the action film’s nocturnal schedule — which included crashes and steel-plated bus shootouts — taught him the Zen of minimal takes and how to give cinematographers what they want in difficult circumstances.

He was befriended by Bruce Surtees, who would become his mentor, and more Eastwood fare followed. Green joined Eastwood’s troupe for ”Every Which Way but Loose,” “Bronco Billy,” ”Firefox,” “Tightrope” and “Pale Rider” -— shooting handheld coverage of the mining camp attack for the last film. Meanwhile, he continued to work on crash-’em-up pictures like “48 Hrs.” and “Beverly Hills Cop” to make the rent.

With Surtees’ blessing, he moved up to director of photography on Eastwood’s “Heartbreak Ridge” in 1986. For the Charlie Parker biopic “Bird” in 1988, it was Green’s screen test of Forest Whitaker playing sax in a recording booth that sold Eastwood on the sombre but high-key look of the film.

The DP became a chameleon of visceral shooting styles, as seen in movies ranging from “White Hunter Black Heart” and “The Bridges of Madison County” to “Unforgiven” and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Now retired and living in Santa Rosa with his wife of 51 years, Susan, Green earned his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame thanks to myriad photographic talents and a focus on what was best for the picture. He says he always tried to serve the director’s vision and would happily relinquish his ideas “if the boss’s vision was better.”

His ideas must have been pretty good fairly often: He received the Cinematographers Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

Saturday, 3 October 2020

CRY MACHO rumoured to be Clint’s next project

CRY MACHO rumoured to be Clint’s next project

Reports are coming out of Hollywood that Clint’s next project may be Cry Macho. As the film industry slowly returns to work, Clint looks to be moving quickly to get his next movie going. Deadline reported that the iconic director is coming on to direct and star in Cry Macho for Warner Bros. While it’s unknown about a start date or when it might be released, sources say Eastwood has already begun scouting locations for the shoot.

Knowing how quick Eastwood’s shoots can go, insiders add the film could be in front of audiences by next winter. Sources add that the film does not yet have a formal green light.

Al Ruddy and Jessica Meier are producing, along with Tim Moore and Eastwood at Malpaso. N. Richard Nash, who wrote the novel Cry Macho, penned the script along with Nick Schenk. I can’t however confirm this, unless it is based on an old draft, as Wikipedia states that Nash died in Manhattan on December 11th 2000, aged 87? 

Based on the book (which was published in June 1975 by Delacorte Press), the film will star Eastwood as a onetime rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder who, in 1978, takes a job from an ex-boss to bring the man’s young son home and away from his alcoholic mom. Crossing rural Mexico on their back way to Texas, the unlikely pair faces an unexpectedly challenging journey, during which the world-weary horseman may find his own sense of redemption through teaching the boy what it means to be a good man. The New York Times described it as a morality tale about two characters who help each other through tough transitions. Over the decades, there have been two aborted attempts to produce a movie of Cry Macho – a feature starring Roy Scheider began initial production in Mexico in 1991, while Arnold Schwarzenegger originally planned to return to acting in 2011, after his time as Governor of California, with a film of Cry Macho that was eventually cancelled. After selling Cry Macho, Nash began to write what he called "real novels" and discover that writing a novel was more flexible than writing a play and received much less criticism than writing a play

When it comes to the acting part, it hasn’t always been a given that Eastwood would also act in the films he was directing; he usually leaned toward staying behind the camera rather than do both. In recent years, he has been drawn to material that allows for both, most recently him starring and directing the 2018 thriller The Mule.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Reni Santoni, Dirty Harry actor dies at 81

Reni Santoni, who played Poppie in “Seinfeld” and appeared in “Dirty Harry” and other films, died on Aug. 1st, he was 81 years-old reported Janet W. Lee of Variety. According to a Facebook post written by his friend and TV writer-producer Tracy Newman, Santoni died on Saturday morning and had been “sick for quite a while.”“Those of you who knew him know how funny he was, what a terrific actor, improviser, performer, etc.,” the post read. “So brilliant. I loved him very much and will miss him terribly. Another great one is gone. I have a lot of wonderful pictures of him, and will post them over the next week. My heart goes out to his son, Nick, who has been such a comfort to Reni over that past five years or more. Born in New York City, Santoni built his acting career from off-Broadway theatre, starring in “The Umbrella” and “The Mad Show.” His first significant film role was an uncredited appearance in the 1964 film “The Pawnbroker,” in which he played a junkie trying to sell a radio. His first leading role was in “Enter Laughing” (1967), in which he played a delivery boy in New York City. Other film credits include inspector Chico González in “Dirty Harry” (1971), 
One of Santoni’s most notable roles was on “Seinfeld” as Poppie, an unhygienic restaurateur. He had a recurring role as one of Arthur Hill’s assistants on the final season of ABC’s “Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law” (1973) and played Daniel in “28 Days” (2000), starring Sandra Bullock.
Santoni is survived by his wife and stage director, Lisa James, and son, Nick.
Bryan Alexander of USA Today wrote:
Prolific character actor Reni Santoni, who partnered with Clint Eastwood in "Dirty Harry" and Sylvester Stallone in "Cobra," and who portrayed Poppie the pizza chef in "Seinfeld," has died at 81.
Santoni died in hospice Saturday after a long illness, TV writer and producer Tracy Newman said of her longtime friend. 
"Reni Santoni passed away yesterday morning," Newman wrote in a Facebook tribute. "He had been sick for quite a while. Those of you who knew him know how funny he was, what a terrific actor, improviser, performer, etc. So brilliant. I loved him very much and will miss him terribly. Another great one is gone."
The New York City native Santoni starred in 1971's "Dirty Harry" as rookie detective and college sociology major Chico Martinez who gets paired up with Eastwood's "Dirty" Harry Callahan. The cop collaboration came despite Callahan's objections ("Just what I needed, a college boy").
Santoni delivered the famous line about his on-screen partner, "No wonder they call him 'Dirty Harry,' (he) always gets the shit end of the stick."
In 1986's "Cobra," Santoni played Sgt. Tony Gonzales who is paired with Stallone's Lt. Marion Cobretti to protect a model (Brigitte Nielsen) from the "Night Slasher" killer.
In TV's "Seinfeld," Santoni portrayed the argumentative, restaurant-owning Poppie, who overcame his poor bathroom hygiene issues but had continuing bladder control problems in appearances.
Writer and director Carl Reiner tapped a then-unknown Santoni to star in his semi-autobiographical 1967 film "Enter Laughing." He played New York City delivery boy David Kolowitz, who dreams of starring in movie.
Reiner and Santoni worked together again in 1982’s "Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid," starring Steve Martin.
Santoni made appearances as Sgt. John Castle on "Hardcastle and McCormick" and Lt. Rivera on "Manimal," along with police show guest star roles in "Hawaii Five-O," "Hill Street Blues," "NYPD Blue" and "Miami Vice."
RIP Chico, the original and the best of partners

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

John Saxon, Enter the Dragon, Joe Kidd actor, dies at 83

We were all very sad to learn of this news at the weekend.
John Saxon, the rugged actor who kicked around with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and appeared in three Nightmare on Elm Street movies for director Wes Craven, died Saturday. He was 83.
Saxon died of pneumonia in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, his wife, Gloria, told The Hollywood Reporter.
An Italian-American from Brooklyn, Saxon played characters of various ethnicities during his long career. His portrayal of a brutal Mexican bandit opposite Marlon Brando in The Appaloosa (1966) earned him a Golden Globe, and he had a recurring role on ABC's Dynasty as Rashid Ahmed, a powerful Middle East tycoon who romanced Alexis Colby (Joan Collins). And on another 1980s primetime soap, CBS' Falcon Crest, he played the father of Lorenzo Lamas' character.

Years earlier, Saxon starred from 1969-72 as the surgeon Theodore Stuart on "The New Doctors" rotating segment of the NBC drama series The Bold Ones.
Discovered by the same agent who launched the careers of Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter, Saxon first gained notice for his performance as a disturbed high school football star who taunts Esther Williams in The Unguarded Moment (1956). In the film's credits, he's billed as "the exciting new personality John Saxon."

He played a police chief who makes a fatal mistake in the Canadian cult classic Black Christmas (1974), featuring Margot Kidder and Keir Dullea, and his horror résumé also includes two films for Roger Corman: Queen of Blood (1966) and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), playing a tyrannical warlord.
In Warner Bros.' Enter the Dragon (1973), Lee's first mainstream American movie and last before his death at age 32, Saxon portrayed Roper, a degenerate gambler who participates in a martial arts tournament. In real life, his fighting skills did not approach those possessed by Lee and another co-star, karate champion Jim Kelly.
Saxon, though, said that Lee "took me seriously. I would tell him I would rather do it this way, and he'd say, 'OK, try it that way,' " he told the Los Angeles Times in 2012.
Saxon played the cop Donald Thompson in the first and third films in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, where he's eventually killed by Freddy Krueger's skeleton. He then returned to play a version of himself in New Nightmare (1994).

He was born Carmine Orrico on Aug. 5, 1936, the eldest of three children of an Italian immigrant house painter. While in high school, he worked as a spieler at a Coney Island archery concession, becoming proficient with the bow and arrow. "Brooklyn was a tough place to grow up in, but it taught you survival, and if you were ambitious, it taught you to want better things," he once said.
Walking out of a movie theater after skipping class at New Utrecht High School, he was spotted by a male modeling agent and then appeared in magazines like True Romances.One photo shoot, which he said pictured him as a "Puerto Rican guy" leaning against a garbage can after he had been shot, caught the attention of Henry Willson, the legendary Hollywood agent who had discovered Hudson and Hunter.

Then just 17, Saxon signed with Willson, studied dramatics for six months with Betty Cashman at Carnegie Hall and flew to Hollywood, where he was quickly signed by Universal. He attended the studio's workshop for 18 months and then worked with Mamie Van Doren in Running Wild (1955).
After Unguarded Moment, Saxon appeared as young rock 'n' roll musicians in Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) and Summer Love (1958) and played opposite Sandra Dee in The Reluctant Debutante (1958), directed by Vincente Minnelli, and Debbie Reynolds in Blake Edwards' This Happy Feeling (1958).
In Cry Tough (1959), Saxon starred as a tough Puerto Rican kid from New York, and in War Hunt (1962), he was top-billed as a psychotic solider. (Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack also were in the cast, and the three would reunite in 1979 for The Electric Horseman.)

Never shy about showing off his machismo, Saxon also co-starred with Clint Eastwood in Joe Kidd (1972) and played a dirty union lawyer in Andrew McLaglen's Mitchell (1975).
His film résumé also included Mario Bava's Evil Eye (1963), Otto Preminger's The Cardinal (1963), Blood Beast From Outer Space (1965), The Swiss Conspiracy (1976), Wrong Is Right (1982), Richard Brooks' Fever Pitch (1985), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) and God's Ears (2008).
He was married three times, to screenwriter Mary Ann Murphy, airline attendant turned actress Elizabeth Saxon and, since 2008, cosmetician Gloria Martel. Survivors also include his son, Antonio, and his sister, Dolores.
RIP sir

Friday, 24 July 2020

Kelly’s Heroes: Celebrating its 50th Anniversary – The 2012 Cinema Retro Special

The Kelly's Heroes Special was published by Cinema Retro Magazine in June 2012. Following on from their 'Movie Classics Special Edition' that paid tribute to director Brian G. Hutton's Where Eagles Dare), the team came together again for his other big picture collaboration with Clint Eastwood - Kelly's Heroes.
As before, it was another 80-page blockbuster filled with amazing stories and ultra -rare photographs, many of which had never been seen before. Cinema retro had the full cooperation of the director Brian G. Hutton, who shared and spoke candidly about the trials and tribulations of making this WWII action-comedy on location in Yugoslavia. It also turned out to be the last interview that Hutton gave before his death in August 2014. 

Some of the collated stories have to be read to be believed! Additionally, Cinema Retro secured exclusive interviews with John Landis, actor Stuart Margolin (Little Joe), and Eastwood's regular key grip, Dennis Fraser. The issue was packed with sidebar information on the filming, the locations, the music, the actors, the world-wide poster campaigns and an incredible wealth of collectables. 

The team also unearthed rare vintage interviews with Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles and Donald Sutherland, all of which were recorded on location back in 1969 and never published before. All of this, plus many photographs taken on the set by cast and crew.

Director, John Landis played an integral part of the publication. Landis who began his career working as an assistant to director Brian G. Hutton on the movie, provided a collection of ultra-rare photos from his personal archive as well as original call sheets from the movie. 

Landis was incredibly impressed with the finished product, claiming that ‘it looks fantastic and extremely thorough. I really have never seen anything like it’

Landis was spot on with his praise and the publication turned out to be incredibly successful and sold out in rapid time. Today, the magazine has become highly collectable and often demands high prices on the auction circuit It was a long overdue project that certainly proved to be in demand, not just by Eastwood fans, but with film fans in general – a reflection that the film was still as popular today as it was 50 years ago.

Cinema Retro’s publications can be found HERE  

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Kelly’s Heroes: Celebrating its 50th Anniversary -The Tao of Oddball: Donald Sutherland on his iconic ‘Kelly’s Heroes’ role

Earlier this week I discovered this great interview by Howard Altman on the website, Military Times. 

Fifty years ago this month one of the most beloved characters in the history of war movies hit the screen, waxing philosophical about the power of positive persuasion. “Always with the negative waves, Moriarity,” tank commander Sgt. Oddball would tell his beleaguered mechanic, Pfc. Moriarity. “Always with the negative waves.” 

Oddball (no first or last name given) helped make “Kelly’s Heroes,” which premiered July 23, 1970, a continuing hit among troops and veterans, especially those who served in tanks. Played by Donald Sutherland, the character quickly stood out as a favourite among an amazing cast featuring the likes of Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’Connor and Gavin MacLeod, who played Moriarity, Oddball’s constant, dour foil.

In a movie about a group of soldiers in WWII plotting to sneak behind German lines and steal $16 million in gold bars from a bank Oddball was the anachronistic long-haired, bearded hippy, whose introduction comes as he is interrupted from a dalliance atop some supply tent crates.
Eastwood plays the eponymous Kelly, a former lieutenant busted down to private for giving the orders to attack the wrong hill, getting many of his men killed in the process. Kelly hatches a plot to steal the gold after learning from a captured Nazi officer about a cache of bars in a bank behind enemy lines. The iconic Oddball is given his first line 31 minutes into the movie, when he overhears Kelly and Staff Sgt. Crapgame, the conniving quartermaster played by Rickles, discussing how much the heist would net.
“You could probably use some armour,” says an as-of-yet unseen Oddball, who seconds later comes into view from where he has been enjoying an afternoon romantic encounter with a woman of unknown origin. “Who the hell’s that?” Kelly demands. “His name’s Oddball,” says Crapgame, rolling his eyes.
Busy year
For Sutherland, 1970 was a historic war movie double header. His role in “Kelly’s Heroes” came fresh off a star turn in “M*A*S*H,” in which he played Army surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in a movie set in the Korean War — but clearly a jab at the then-raging conflict in Vietnam.

That role cemented Sutherland’s next one, he said in an email interview with Military Times. 
“Troy Kennedy Martin’s script and the person of Brian Hutton,” Sutherland said when asked what attracted him to the Oddball role, referring to film’s writer and director.

“I’d just finished ‘M*A*S*H’ and my beloved producer Ingo Preminger told me my life was going to change when it came out. So I figured maybe I’d not get a chance to play this kind of a fellow again. I was wrong. I have had many such chances. But that’s part of what sent me to MGM and Brian Hutton’s office. The bigger part was that I loved Oddball. I adored him!”
Sutherland, who turned 85 on July 17th, said that while he instantly loved the script, he didn’t realise at the time just how endearing the movie would become.

“My first impression was that it was hysterically funny. Iconoclastic, perfect,” he said. “Nobody died. At least they didn’t die in the original script, but then some idiot producer, (now dead himself), who insisted that there had to be deaths. Brian fought it, didn’t want it, but money shouted so Brian ended up giving him a minefield.”
Sutherland was referring to a scene — about 70 minutes into the film — where three of their band of burglarious brothers — Michael Clark as Pvt. Grace, Fred Pearlman as Pvt. Mitchell and Tom Troupe as Cpl. Job, are killed — one by a mine and two by German small arms fire. “I love Kelly’s,” said Sutherland. “About it being a favourite? You don’t think about how it’s going to be received when you’re doing it. But afterwards, when people speak to me about it, it always pleases me. I liked his dog imitation. Woof Woof.”
The year 1970 was a bonanza for war flicks. In addition to “Kelly’s Heroes” and “M*A*S*H,” movie goers went to see “Patton”, “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” and “Catch-22,″ among many released that year.

The WWII films debuted during a time when protests against the Vietnam War were raging. By 1970 nearly 35,000 U.S. troops had perished in the conflict, including more than 6,000 that year. That May National Guard troops shot four students dead at Kent State in Ohio, further eroding any support for the war and expediting efforts to pull out.

But despite everything going on in the world at the time, and though Sutherland was coming off a decidedly anti-Vietnam War movie, the Canadian-born actor says current events didn’t influence how he played the seemingly permanently baked Oddball.

“No,” he said when asked if reaction to the Vietnam War influenced his portrayal. “None that I can think of, just Troy’s script, Hutton and my imagination. It was about staying alive. Being in Europe. Watching Rickles make money. There’s a song that the British 8th Army in Italy in WW2 sang about Lady Astor that touches my heart. It’s about soldiers. Infantrymen. That’s the pain and suffering and struggle of war. We were about the idiocy of war.”
Donald Sutherland, publicity shot for Kelly's Heroes
Negative Waves, Positive Reaction
Shot during a time when marijuana and acid were widely used and mysticism was gaining pop culture traction, Oddball uttered what would become one of filmdom’s most endearing, and enduring, catchphrases — even though it doesn’t come until nearly 53 minutes into the film.
“Don’t hit me with them negative waves so early in the morning,” Oddball tells Moriarity, after the latter wonders what will happen if a railroad bridge, one needed to get the three M4 Sherman tanks over a river, is no longer there.
Sutherland gave full credit for the “negative waves” words and scenes to screenwriter Troy Kennedy Martin.
“Troy’s line,” he said when asked if it was scripted or ad-libbed. “All of it. Pretty much everything I said was scripted. I thought it was a terrific script. Oddball took over my life. He inhabited me, guided me. I was in love with my Sherman tank.”
From the chiding encounters between Oddball and Moriarity, to the French cafe scene, to “drinking wine and eating cheese,” to the Tiger tank showdown riff on the “Good the Bad and the Ugly,” fan-favourite Oddball moments are many.
But not Sutherland.
“I liked everything,” he said of his character, who wore the tri-colour, triangle patch of the 6th Armor Division on his leather jacket. “Beginning to end. He was exactly who he was and he carried me with him all the way through the six months of shooting.”
“Kelly’s Heroes” had an all-star cast that, in addition to the aforementioned actors, included Stuart Margolin as Little Joe and Harry Dean Stanton as Willard, among many others. It was a fun group, Sutherland said.

“We had little campers out in a field near each location. Clint’s had a sign on it. ‘Clint Eastwood: Private.’ Don Rickles’ was right next to Clint’s and it had a sign on it saying: ‘Don Rickles — mister friendly — everybody welcome.’ That’s what it was like 24/7.”
Sutherland said he is “terrifically pleased” that Oddball is still such a favourite character, especially in the military and veteran communities.
After 50 years, is there any question about Oddball that hasn’t been asked?
“You’re joking, right?” Sutherland quipped.
Will the Tao of Oddball live on with future generations?
Maybe Oddball himself can answer that question.
“Have a little faith, baby. Have a little faith.”

For original article click HERE  

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Kelly’s Heroes: Celebrating its 50th Anniversary - Behind the Scenes on Location footage with Clint and Don Rickles

It‘s incredible to think that Brian G. Hutton’s 2nd World War Two film has now reached its 50th Anniversary – it seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Where Eagles Dare. I thought it would be nice to post a few bits here this week – as we seem to be in the middle of the film’s U.S. premiere (June 1970) and its U.K. release (September 1970). Other features on Kelly’s Heroes can already be found here on the Archive, so these will be more in a retrospective and reflective style. However, let’s begin with some fascinating newly discovered material.
Here is an incredible piece of film from the set and on location during the filming of Kelly's Heroes. It features a great deal of quick firing fun (and signature roasting style) from the late, great Don Rickles. Lasting almost 12 minutes, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the atmosphere that was created during the filming.
In the second clip (which looks to be from a more restored source), reporter Susan White gives Don a taste of his own medicine. In 1969 Susan White, reporter for WMAR-TV in Baltimore, was invited to go on a MGM movie junket to Yugoslavia. She was one of just 14 broadcasters from throughout the world to be included in this trip. In Belgrade, Yugoslavia, on the movie set of what would become known as Kelly's Heroes (in both clips the film is referred to as The Warriors, its original shooting title). During this time, Susan and the others interviewed Clint Eastwood, Telly Salvalas and Don Rickles. When everyone else tried to interview comedian Don Rickles he didn't let them get in a word or a question and made fun of their inability to do so. So when it was Susan's turn she decided to turn try and turn the tables on the King of the put down. At the end, Rickles looks as if he has nothing but respect. It’s just wonderful. Where are those other interviews with the rest of the cast? These would be incredible to see.
I have to thank 2 very special friends of the Archive, Mal and Jayne Baker for finding this material, and of course the original up-loaders, we’re so grateful for you sharing.