Sunday, 24 November 2019

Rare U.S. 7” promo single Cowboy Wedding Song / Rowdy

A couple of weeks ago I was very lucky to finally pick up this precious item. I had been after this extremely rare 7” single since… well, forever actually, certainly since I’ve collected on Eastwood (since the mid-1970s).
This is the 1962 U.S. DJ white label promotional copy of Clint’s single release on Cameo-Parkways, Cowboy Wedding Song / Rowdy. There’s a nice little back story behind this record too. The unusual thing about this promo sees ‘Cowboy Wedding Song’ as the originally intended A side, with ‘Rowdy’ as the B side. On its eventual release (as a regular single) the titles were reversed with ‘Rowdy’ becoming the A side – which was probably to tie-in more with the popularity of Clint’s Rawhide character.
I’ve never seen one of these for sale in the UK before, and when one does appear (in America) it usually demands quite a high asking price, plus the costly shipping, import duty et al, it just didn’t seem worth the hassle.
However, this one surprisingly popped up recently in the UK and with a buy now price of just £8.
Naturally I pounced and was very happy to at last fill this gap in the Eastwood / Vinyl collection.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Photographer Terry O'Neill dies aged 81

I couldn’t let the passing of Photographer Terry O'Neill slip by without a mention on these pages. 

Mr O'Neill, who rose to fame capturing the explosion of London's youth culture in the 1960s, died at home following a long battle with prostate cancer.  He photographed celebrities including Judy Garland, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra and of course Clint.
Clint was captured by O'Neill whilst on location during the making of Joe Kidd, a famous shoot which resulted in a fabulous collection of Clint with his buddy Paul Newman. Mr O'Neill also photographed members of the British royal family, and prominent politicians - including Sir Winston Churchill.
His photographs of Elton John are among his most well-known. Other famous images include Faye Dunaway reclining by the pool with her Oscar - with whom he was married. One of his last major public appearances was when he collected his CBE for services to photography from the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace in October.
After receiving his honour Mr O'Neill, who had been suffering from prostate cancer and was in a wheelchair, said the award 'surpasses anything I've had happen to me in my life'. Actress and singer Barbra Streisand tweeted: 'Terry O'Neill - You took such wonderful pictures. May you RIP'
The British photographer was born on 30 July 1938 in Heston, West London, and originally aspired to be a jazz drummer due to his love of music. Instead he managed to get a job in photography and took a shot that would change his life. He said: 'Part of my work was to take photographs of people arriving and departing at the terminals. I happened upon a very well-dressed bowler-hatted man, taking a quick nap in the departures area, and he was surrounded by African chieftains, fully clad in their regalia. 'Soon after, I was approached by an editor who told me that they wanted to show the photo to his paper. 'The man napping turned out to be then Home Secretary Rab Butler.
'The paper ran my photo and I was off and running. I was offered a job at the Daily Sketch where I worked for several years before going out on my own.'
He was previously married to actor Faye Dunaway for three years. Mr O'Neill is survived by his three children and wife Laraine Ashton.
A spokesman for Iconic Images, which represents his impressive archive of photographic work, said: 'It is with a heavy heart that Iconic Images announces the passing of Terence 'Terry' O'Neill, CBE. 'Terry was a class act, quick witted and filled with charm. 'Anyone who was lucky enough to know or work with him can attest to his generosity and modesty. 'As one of the most iconic photographers of the last 60 years, his legendary pictures will forever remain imprinted in our memories as well as in our hearts and minds.'
Rip Sir.

Richard Jewell (2019) AFI Premiere, stories and reviews

With Clint’s latest film Richard Jewell (2019) premiering last week at the AFI (American Film Institute), I felt it was time to start up a dedicated page relating to reviews and other various stories relevant to the movie.

Clint Eastwood Heads Back To Oscar Race As ‘Richard Jewell’ Has Triumphant AFI Fest Premiere In Hollywood. By Pete Hammond, Deadline, November 21, 2019 
If it is an awards season, the name Clint Eastwood can’t be too far away. And so it is yet again as another Eastwood movie has just thrown its hat in the ring. Richard Jewell had a rousing AFI Fest premiere Wednesday night at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, as well as a SAG Nominating Committee screening at Harmony Gold followed by a Q&A that drew standing ovations for Eastwood and the man he cast as Jewell, Paul Walter Hauser. There also was big applause for co-stars Kathy Bates, who plays Jewell’s mother, Bobbi; Sam Rockwell as his lawyer, Watson Bryant; and Jon Hamm, who plays Tom Shaw (a fictional name representing a number of FBI agents). The real Watson Bryant and Bobbi Jewell were also among those in attendance at the premiere and after party.
The four-time Oscar winner for producing and directing Best Picture winners Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby should be back in the heart of the game with Richard Jewell, a very compelling true story of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics security guard who initially was hailed a hero for discovering a bomb in Centennial Park and saving many lives before it exploded. But he later was named a suspect in the bombing by the FBI, which desperately needed to find one considering the Games had just begun and pressure was on. Local paper The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also is depicted as being pressured to be first in reporting Jewell as a suspect as this movie finds both the FBI and the media culpable in targeting Jewell. His life nearly was destroyed before he was completely exonerated 88 days after the investigation began.
Of course there often is controversy with any fact-based movie — more on that later — but this film puts Eastwood back in the kind of true-life story he has been attracted to lately with films about complex heroes such as American Sniper, Sully and now Richard Jewell. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the December 13 Warner Bros release in the Best Picture Oscar race, as well as several other categories including Directing for Eastwood — who at 89 could become certainly one of the oldest, if not the oldest Best Director nominee ever. He is astonishing, no other word for it, and all of his actors had nothing but praise for him Wednesday night.
His long time film editor Joel Cox, who told me Eastwood wants to keep working behind the camera until he is at least 100, said he was hoping to get the filmmaker to agree to let young directors come on their sets and observe, just to get an idea of how moviemaking should be done. Cox, who edited the movie as filming continued, said they delivered it to Warner Bros this week (it was finished just two days ago) — exactly five and a half months after starting production. The studio wanted it as a centrepiece of its Oscar contenders, which also include Joker. Well, Eastwood has given it to them.
The legendary actor-director told me at the Hollywood Roosevelt after party that he has been chasing the Jewell story for years and sparked to Billy Ray’s screenplay, which is based on a Marie Brenner Vanity Fair article as well as the book Suspect. First they had it set up at Fox, but an executive there deep-sixed it. Time went by and in 2018, after Disney bought Fox, it was revived again (the exec who killed it was gone). But new studio head Alan Horn couldn’t make it work there, so the project suddenly was able to land in the lap of Eastwood’s main studio, Warner Bros, after he decided to give it just one more try.
Everyone looking for justice and doing the right thing should be thankful he didn’t give up because the sad fact is that Jewell was a true hero, but the label put on him in unfortunate circumstances still has people thinking he was the bomber (Eric Rudolph confessed to the crime six years later). As Eastwood said at the end of the Q&A, this was something that needed to be corrected and fully exonerates him once again in a way only movies can do. “I think it is a great American tragedy that everyone kind of went after him,” the filmmaker said. “I realized how it happened. It was the first time Atlanta had such a huge thing like the Olympics, and all of a sudden in three days they have this horrible bombing, and they have to get somebody. But everybody just sold out — they sold out and didn’t even offer him the basics of the American system. The FBI and a lot of the media were unkind, and it shows good people can do bad things. Richard Jewell was a kind person and he got a bad deal.” Eastwood also noted that he’s happy the city is going to put a plaque in honor of Jewell (who died of heart failure in 2007) at Centennial Park, but he wants more. “That’s great, but I would like a street named after him. He deserves better. It’s a story worth telling. I wanted this picture in the worst way. I sold a lot of souls to the devil to get it made.”
At one time Jonah Hill (who has a producing credit along with others including Leonardo DiCaprio) was attached to play Jewell, but from the moment Eastwood said he saw Hauser in a small supporting role in I, Tonya, he knew he had found his Richard Jewell. The Best Actor and Supporting Actor races are ridiculously crowded this year, but it seems inconceivable that Hauser can be denied a slot. He simply is brilliant, completely inhabiting this role. Plus he looks like he could be Jewell’s brother. It is a remarkable performance.
The whole cast also is great including Bates, who could find herself in the Supporting Actress lineup. The SAG crowd loved her. And then there is Rockwell, who again is superb in another unforgettable turn. He won the Supporting Oscar two years ago for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and was nominated last year for his smaller role as George W. Bush in Vice, the part that Eastwood says really caught his eye since he knew Bush a little and thought Rockwell captured him perfectly. This category is way overloaded, but I don’t see how Rockwell doesn’t make it three nominations in a row. For Hauser and Rockwell in particular, this is not a prediction on my part, it is an order, Academy members.
There is usually controversy with any true-life story, as we saw Wednesday when the AFI Fest had to pull The Banker from its closing-night world premiere slot that was scheduled for tonight. Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman also has raised eyebrows in some quarters about the truthfulness of how Jimmy Hoffa’s death is portrayed as fact in the film. And as for Richard Jewell, there is already a proactive campaign being launched against it by Kevin Riley, editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who send a detailed email to various news outlets including Deadline on Monday, cautioning about certain things he has heard are in the movie that might put his paper in a bad light.
He says he will see the film when it comes out but wants to make journalists aware of AJC‘s concerns — most notably surrounding Kathy Scruggs, the reporter played in the film by Olivia Wilde who broke the story that the FBI was looking at Jewell as a suspect. The film clearly suggests she is trading sexual favors with the FBI agent played by Hamm in order to get the inside info. This also is intimated in the book Suspect, one of the sources the film’s script is based on as well. Riley says it is not true (though he was not at the paper in 1996) and is upset that it is being portrayed this way, especially in the #MeToo era. Scruggs unfortunately is not around to speak for herself. She died in 2001 at age 41.
Obviously there will be much more to come on this film, but for me a real mark of how Eastwood, Ray and this cast nailed it ultimately is just what the title indicates; it is finally the story of Richard Jewell and what happened to him at the hands of people who succumbed to the pressures of the time. Bobbi Jewell was a witness to it all, and she effusively told me as she was leaving the Roosevelt Party last night that this movie got it right. 

Clint Eastwood’s ‘Richard Jewell’ earns an ovation as it enters awards race. By GLENN WHIPP, LA Times, Entertainment, NOV. 21, 2019
Richard Jewell, the security guard who alerted police about a suspicious backpack that eventually exploded, saving the lives of countless people at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, only to then be accused of planting the bomb himself, will soon receive a plaque in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.
“I’d like a street named after him,” Clint Eastwood said after the AFI Fest world premiere of his film “Richard Jewell.” “He deserves even more.”
With “Richard Jewell,” Eastwood has given the late security guard something bigger than a plaque or a namesake street. Eastwood has crafted a monument to Jewell’s heroism and a portrait of its shattering aftermath, an arc Eastwood calls a “great American tragedy.”

Eastwood began shooting “Richard Jewell” in late June and wrapped in August, enabling Warner Bros. to get it in theaters on Dec. 13. The film could do well commercially, though unlike “American Sniper” or “Sully” — other Eastwood films depicting the dark side of celebrated heroes — it doesn’t have a star. Comedic actor Paul Walter Hauser plays Jewell (Jonah Hill was originally attached), and he makes the most of his first starring role, playing the title character as a kind of principled Paul Blart sad sack, an ordinary man who did an extraordinary thing.

The late-arriving “Richard Jewell” faces a challenge to gain awards season traction, though the movie certainly won’t have a hard time generating publicity. Billy Ray’s screenplay, based on a 1997 Vanity Fair article and a new book on the case, hammers its theme of an unpretentious Southern man, a Baptist who loves guns, hunting and his mama (Kathy Bates), being unfairly targeted by “two of the most powerful forces in the world” — the United States government and an unscrupulous media.
The editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has already lashed out at the movie, defending the paper’s reporting on the case. That reporting came under fire at the time, though, with the American Journalism Review criticising the Journal-Constitution for triggering a full-scale media frenzy with scanty sourcing.
“I find it appalling, quite frankly, at how quickly everybody leapt to finger this guy,” the late David Shaw, the Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning media reporter, said in a 1996 interview. “To write about it in the context of a larger story about the explosion, down in the sixth or eighth paragraph —that’s one thing. But to bring out a special edition and start leading your newscast and putting out Page 1 stories on it — that’s over the top.”
But “Richard Jewell” is also over the top in some respects, particularly the way in which Olivia Wilde plays the Atlanta paper’s police reporter Kathy Scruggs. She’s written as an unethical journalist who sleeps with an FBI agent (Jon Hamm) for information (or maybe because he looks like Jon Hamm ... or maybe all of the above). She’s also callous, flippant, a boozer and only bothers to check the facts of her reporting weeks after the story runs.
Additionally, she seems to have the power of invisibility and the improbable ability to develop a conscience shortly after praying to God that the bomber be "[expletive] interesting.”
Wilde did not attend the Q&A Wednesday night.
Joining Eastwood at the invite-only screening, which was concurrent with a public unveiling at the Chinese Theater, were Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Bates and Hamm. Bates earned a standing ovation from the audience, made up mostly of Screen Actors Guild members. They rose for Eastwood too, though as the 89-year-old filmmaker noted: “I’m an old-timer. A senior citizen. They have to treat me well.”
Rockwell, funny and fierce as Jewell’s attorney, might be the movie’s best chance at awards season success, given his recent roll with “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Vice.” Asked how he cast Rockwell, Eastwood replied that he thought he was great portraying George W. Bush in “Vice,” though he admitted he “didn’t see the whole movie.”
Eastwood tried to make “Richard Jewell” for four years before it came together this spring. “I wanted this picture in the worst way,” he said, wrapping up the evening. “I sold a lot of souls to the devil.” We’ll know in a few weeks how that bargain turns out.

Clint Eastwood’s ‘Richard Jewell’ Debuts at AFI Fest, Paul Walter Hauser Enters the Oscar Race. By MARC MALKIN, Variety, NOVEMBER 21, 2019
Even before “Richard Jewell” premiered Wednesday night at AFI Fest, Clint Eastwood’s real-life drama was part of this year’s Oscar conversation.
The 40th film directed by the 89-year-old Hollywood legend tells the true story of Richard Jewell, the security guard who was targeted by the FBI as the prime suspect in the bombing in Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. 

At first, Jewell became an overnight hero for discovering the knapsack containing the pipe bombs, but an overzealous FBI investigation quickly zeroed in on him as the main suspect in the bombing. A report identifying Jewell in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution sparked an international media circus that destroyed his name in the court of public opinion.
The story of an underdog facing off against the government and seemingly unethical media should play well with Academy voters. Hauser’s portrayal and transformation (Eastwood urged him to pack on the pounds for the role) for Jewell could earn sympathy and help attract Oscar support as well. Jewell was never charged with anything and was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing. The real bomber was Eric Robert Rudolph, who was convicted of the bombing, as well as similar attacks of abortion clinics and a lesbian bar.
This year’s best actor category is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races. While there are frontrunners like Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”), Leonard DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”), Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”), Robert De Niro (“The Irishman) and Jonathan Pryce (“The Two Popes”), there are many actors who deserve to be recognized. If only there could be more than five nominees…
However, Eastwood could also be dinged by Academy members for the film’s negative portrayal of journalism (including Olivia Wilde as a reporter who appears in the film trading sex for a tip from her FBI source, played by Jon Hamm) during a time when President Donald Trump continually disparages the news media as “fake news” and as an “enemy of the people.” Eastwood’s association with the GOP could also turn off blue Hollywood as it gears up for the 2020 election.
Eastwood has twice taken home Oscars for best picture and best director for “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby.” Actors in his films have been nominated several times with wins going to Gene Hackman (“Unforgiven”) and Tim Robbins and Sean Penn for “Mystic River.” Most recently, Bradley Cooper earned a best actor nod for “American Sniper.”
At last night’s premiere, excitement and anticipation for the Warner Bros. film was palpable, both on the red carpet and inside the theater. Even before the movie began, Eastwood received a standing ovation when he was introduced by AFI Fest president Bob Gazzale. Whether the enthusiasm for the movie continues to Oscar Sunday remains to be seen.

Clint Eastwood Atlanta bombing film criticised over 'sex-for-tips' reporter. 
Newspaper says portrayal of reporter in Richard Jewell film undermines confidence in media and law enforcement agencies. Andrew Pulver, The Guardian, Thu 21 Nov 2019 
Clint Eastwood’s new film Richard Jewell has been criticised for its portrayal of one of the key journalists involved in reporting on the 1996 Atlanta bombing case on which the film is based. Jewell was a security guard who discovered the bomb and led bystanders away; he was investigated by the FBI for several weeks but never charged. 


After two further bombings, Eric Robert Rudolph was identified as a suspect, and convicted in 2005. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution controversially named him three days later.
Kevin G Riley, editor in chief of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said in a letter to the Wrap that the film’s suggestion that its reporter Kathy Scruggs traded sex for information from an FBI agent was not true, and that the film’s intention was to undermine confidence in the media and law enforcement agencies.
He added: “This is essential because the underlying theme of the movie is that the FBI and press are not to be trusted. Yet the way the press is portrayed often differs from reality … It remains [crucial] to have solid information when covering demanding stories. It’s also ironic that a film purporting to hold the media to account disregards such crucial facts.”

Scruggs, who died in 2001, was a police reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and obtained the information that the FBI were investigating Jewell for the bombing at the 1996 Olympics that killed one and injured more than 100 others. In the film she is played by Olivia Wilde and her FBI contact by Jon Hamm.

Despite past criticism, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has always defended its reporting on Jewell as accurate according to the information it had, and refused to settle with him after Jewell sued for libel. Jewell died in 2007, but his claim was finally rejected by the Georgia court of appeals in 2011.

The film’s producing studio Warner Bros has been contacted for comment.

Riley said: “There is no evidence that this ever happened, and … it’s offensive and deeply troubling in the #MeToo era.”

'Richard Jewell': Film Review | AFI 2019. Hollywood Reporter, by Todd McCarthy, Nov 20th 2019 Another fine Eastwood film about a man with greatness thrust upon him.
Clint Eastwood's latest tells the true story of a security guard initially celebrated as a hero for saving lives in the bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics, then vilified when the press reported he was a suspect.
Clint Eastwood is quite partial to accidental real-life heroes these days and he’s found a good, if unprepossessing one, in Richard Jewell, a lively and none-too-flattering look at the “media lynching” of a sad-sack security guard the press decided was responsible for a deadly bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. 
The director’s last five films — American Sniper, Sully, The 15:17 to Paris, The Mule and now this one — have focused on ordinary men doing extraordinary things, only to have them scrutinized, for better or worse, in the aftermath.
In format and focus, the new film emerges as a close sibling to the aviation drama Sully, which also centered on a man who became a hero by doing his job but whose actions were similarly, if less severely, picked apart by the press and authorities. Sully raked in $241 million worldwide and, while its box office might have benefited a bit from a guy named Tom Hanks in the lead role, the new pic’s concern with the vindication of an innocent man provides a similar dramatic trajectory that’s also quite satisfying. The Warner Bros. attraction world-premiered at AFI Fest in Los Angeles, bows nationally on Dec. 13 and should perform well with general audiences everywhere, but perhaps especially in the South.
Most Hollywood films about journalism since All the President’s Men 43 years ago have taken the free press’ side, portraying it as a scruffy if noble institution essential to the well-being of democracy. Eastwood and screenwriter Billy Ray (The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips) here take a rather different view of the Fourth Estate, portraying it as reckless, corrupt and immoral. At the center of its frenzy is the hapless and clueless Jewell, an overweight oddball who may well be the least likely leading man in any of Eastwood’s 40 — count ‘em, 40 — films as a director, but Paul Walter Hauser makes the most of it.  
Once intended as a vehicle for Jonah Hill, hence his inclusion here as an executive producer, the movie greatly benefits from the title role being played by a relative unknown; the casting enhances the anonymous Everyman nature of this ordinary fellow, who, in classic Preston Sturges fashion, has misfortune, and then a certain measure of greatness, thrust upon him.
The nicely balanced script devotes just enough time at the outset to sketching an impression of Jewell as a mama’s boy loser and outcast to arouse slight suspicions that he could be a time bomb waiting to go off. A devoted student of the law — “I study the penal code every night,” he boasts — Jewell is also a video arcade regular who occasionally gets himself in trouble or loses security jobs out of over-zealousness, like busting frat boys in their rooms; “I don’t want any Mickey Mousing on this campus,” he proclaims, in a misguided burst of self-important authority. A once-upon-a-time cop, he boasts of a huge gun collection and spends a lot of time at the shooting range. He lives with his mom, Bobi (a wonderful Kathy Bates), who loves him and can lift his spirits by saying things like, “You’re still a good guy warding off the bad guys, aren’t ya?”

He is, in short, a non-entity, a man destined to live his life without making a mark on the world. But fate dictates otherwise. On the evening of July 27, a big crowd is enjoying a musical performance in Centennial Olympic Park when a warning call comes in about an imminent bombing. Jewell zealously jumps into action, beginning to clear the area where he has noticed a suspicious backpack. A pipe bomb goes off minutes later, killing one and injuring 111 (another died of incidental causes), but Jewell is widely lauded for his quick action, which prevented many more from being hurt or killed.
But after receiving initial thanks for his response to the emergency, this accidental hero soon sees his applause going quiet. A disgruntled former boss calls the FBI with his suspicions about Jewell, and a profile quickly takes shape of a misfit who triggers such a tragedy with the express purpose of then receiving public acclaim as a savior; it’s the “fake hero” syndrome. From here on, FBI honcho Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm) is convinced they’ve got their man in their sights — and, in a development that’s already stirring dispute and controversy, the film shows Shaw receiving sexual favors from real-life (but now deceased) Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs (a raucously entertaining Olivia Wilde) in exchange for a bombshell tip.
From this point, Jewell’s life becomes a living hell, with the media on his case day and night and the FBI invading the family apartment; the young man’s extensive gun collection only furthers the feds’ conviction that “he fits the profile.” What he needs is a good attorney, but a guy like Jewell has to take what he can get, and the man hustling for the job rates perhaps only slightly higher in his professional field than Jewell does in his. Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) may not be another Johnnie Cochran or Gloria Allred, but he sees that the poor guy is being railroaded and commits to clearing his name. 
The mob of reporters covering the story resembles a plague of locusts, with any little tidbit being transformed into big news as the media tries to finger a culprit. Jewell, along with his mother, must endure this combination of attack and deprivation for three months until, finally, the FBI realizes that, from a purely logistical point of view, the young man couldn’t have physically pulled off what they believed he did. The reality lay elsewhere, but that is another story. 
The film loses a bit of steam in the final stretch, but there is climactic strength in Jewell’s brewing sense of purpose and self-respect, which contrasts with the abiding conviction of Hamm’s FBI man that Jewell remains “guilty as hell.” Eastwood echoes notions that have surfaced in his earlier movies about the gap between American ideals and the more troubling reality of life. 
All the principal actors are ideally cast and seem very keyed-up for their parts here; Wilde and Hamm come on very strong in competitive try-and-stop-me roles, Rockwell provides all manner of disgruntled but finally energized determination to fight and win, and Bates dabs her maternal role with lovely shadings that go well beyond what’s in the script. But it’s Hauser who carries the film in a rare and unlikely role, that of a presumed loser in life (the man did die just a few years later, at 44) who suffered very unwanted attention — but who, when he needed to, found a way to rise to the occasion. Rated R, 131 minutes

AFI Fest Film Review: Clint Eastwood’s ‘Richard Jewell’ by Peter Debruge, Variety, NOV20, 2019
Clint Eastwood goes after two of the most powerful forces in contemporary America — the FBI and the media — in this true story of a hero falsely accused of being a terrorist.
Can you recall who was responsible for 1996’s Centennial Olympic Park bombing? Three days after the incident, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (accurately) reported that Richard Jewell, the security guard who discovered a backpack containing three pipe bombs and tipped the police, sparing the lives of innumerable concertgoers, had become the FBI’s main suspect. But was it right to run the story? Evidently, CNN had uncovered the same information (that Jewell was being investigated) but chose to wait. Once the AJC ran it, the news spread fast, turning Jewell from a hero to a villain in the public’s eyes. 
Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” intends to clear the man’s name once and for all. But “Richard Jewell” is a movie, and movies are notoriously inaccurate, taking what’s euphemistically referred to as “dramatic license” to make stories more entertaining. In this case, at a time when politicians have stoked public distrust of news media, and when news media have punched back by holding politicians to even stricter standards of truthfulness, does anybody want to hear what the “Hollywood elites” have to say about Richard Jewell?
The answer: A good story is a good story, and Eastwood knows how to tell a good story. With “Richard Jewell,” he and screenwriter Billy Ray — drawing from the Vanity Fair article “American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” by Marie Brenner — go about it in a broad and often too-simplistic sort of way, treating the “hero bomber” (played by Paul Walter Hauser in his first starring role) as a lovable loser. Still, the result is undeniably compelling, a kind of modern-day “Ace in the Hole” and a populist reflection of the public’s disdain for journalists and government alike, as told by a filmmaker (and let’s not forget: former mayor of Carmel, Calif.) with his finger on the pulse.
Without a major movie star in the lead, “Richard Jewell” will likely land in the $35 million range, like disappointments “J. Edgar” and “The 15:17 to Paris” before it, rather than the nine-digit territory of far-better biopics “Sully” and “American Sniper,” though all five projects demonstrate a remarkable output for a director operating well into his 80s. Even the bad movies (and when Eastwood is bad, he’s awful) reflect a consistency of focus. He’s an underdog’s director, skeptical of the system, firmly on the side of the falsely accused and completely unpretentious in his delivery. 
Say what you will about Eastwood’s performance at the 2012 Republican National Convention (when he scolded Obama via an empty chair next to him onstage), but “Richard Jewell” does not come across as an old, out-of-touch white guy venting his frustrations with a specific political party. Instead, it reflects a thoughtful citizen wondering how we got to this point. Retracing Eastwood’s career as filmmaker, he clearly abhors nothing more than the abuse of power. Here, the director challenges two of the most powerful institutions in modern society, seizing on an especially disgraceful moment when the pressures on law enforcement (to get its man) and the pressures on news organizations (to get the scoop) ruined the reputation of an “innocent guy” (as director Michael Moore identified him in “The Big One”). 
It has often been said that one’s reputation is determined not by one’s actions but by others’ perceptions. In Jewell’s case, extrapolating from the fact the FBI was investigating him, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution decided that he fit a certain profile: “This profile generally includes a frustrated white man who is a former police officer, member of the military or police ‘wanna-be’ who seeks to become a hero,” wrote AJC reporters Kathy Scruggs (played here by Olivia Wilde as an aggressive, unethical newshound) and Ron Martz (David Shae, who barely registers as a character). But do “lone bombers” fitting that description really exist? 
“Richard Jewell” isn’t terribly generous to any of its characters, and though the filmmakers believe their protagonist to be innocent, as played by Hauser (a tubby character actor recently seen as a racist ignoramus in “BlacKkKlansman” and a bumbling bodyguard in “I, Tonya”), he comes off as a thickheaded goober, a glorified Paul Blart type. In 1996, while working for campus police at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga., he was reprimanded for pulling cars over on the highway. After being dismissed from that job, he took his above-and-beyond enthusiasm to his next gig, working as a security guard for the AT&T Pavilion at the Summer Olympics, where the live-at-home schlub saw himself as a deputy member of law enforcement. 
Sure, it’s pathetic to watch Jewell buddying up to the real cops, but that desperate everything-to-prove attitude of his is presumably what saved lives when he stumbled on a suspicious package near the sound-and-light tower just after midnight on July 27. The FBI was on the scene, but agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm, playing that handsome-on-the-outside, sordid-underneath dynamic that suited him so well in “Mad Men”) was distracted, flirting with Scruggs, working her contacts — and her sex appeal, the movie implies — for a lead. 
As in “Sully,” when Eastwood showed the crash landing multiple times from various perspectives, the bomb goes off once, only to echo later in Jewell’s dreams and in flashback — a surefire way to juice up a story that’s mostly about procedure from the incident on out. Early in his professional career, Jewell made friends with an eccentric attorney, Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell), and he’s the one Jewell calls when the FBI brings him in for questioning. 
Bryant is a Libertarian, as indicated by the “I fear government more than I fear terrorism” sign in his office, and Jewell’s case ignites a righteous fire in him, redeeming his sad solo law practice. In one scene, intercut with footage of Michael Johnson breaking the 200-meter speed record at the 1996 Olympics, Eastwood shows Bryant timing the walk between the bomb site and the pay phone where an anonymous 911 call was placed — a fancy bit of filmmaking meant to underscore Jewell’s innocence.
Richard, who lives at home with his mother, Bobi (Kathy Bates), just wants to be helpful, volunteering to assist in any way he can the FBI agents who search his home, while reporters from national news agencies camp out in the parking lot. Throughout the entire ordeal, Jewell remains polite and accommodating, which makes him look even more foolish at times. Supporting actors Wilde, Hamm, Bates and Rockwell play their roles at the brink of caricature, and yet, under Eastwood’s aegis, they don’t cross into outright parody.
The director is known for tossing less experienced actors in with the professionals — as in “The 15:17 to Paris,” where the trio who thwarted a terrorist attack played themselves, badly. In “Richard Jewell,” it works brilliantly, allowing Hauser to shine in a role movie star Jonah Hill once intended to play (he remains involved as a producer). 
The real Jewell died in 2007 — a small fortune richer after making settlements in libel cases with NBC, the New York Post and his former Piedmont employers — which makes it possible for Hauser to interpret him as he pleases. The actor projects a goofy, good-natured bewilderment, off which Rockwell plays the indignant justice seeker. Wilde’s former colleagues have raised objections about how she is portrayed, especially the suggestion that she slept with an FBI agent to get the story, and it’s a thankless part, rendered ridiculous during a press conference in which she sobs in the background while Bobi comes to her son’s defence.

So, to return to the original question, who was the individual responsible for the bombing? Six years after Jewell was interrogated, the FBI finally caught the culprit, a man named Eric Rudolph, who conducted at least three other bombings (of a lesbian bar and two abortion clinics) subsequent to Centennial Park. Meanwhile, in the decades since, the trial-by-media phenomenon has only gotten worse, and our justice system seems all the more fallible. Maybe Eastwood is right to show Jewell as some kind of guinea pig. Just don’t assume that the movie’s any more accurate than the characters it critiques.
Reviewed at Warner Bros. screening room, Burbank, Nov. 18, 2019. MPAA Rating: R.

Richard Jewell Review: Clint Eastwood's Best in Years
Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Richard Jewell, is his best in years. And it's anchored by a trio of powerful performances.  Den of Geek, Don Kaye, Nov 21, 2019
Based on the true story of the security guard who was at first praised for his heroic actions during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing and then dragged through the mud as a suspect, Richard Jewell is easily director Clint Eastwood’s best film since 2006’s Letters from Iwo Jima. Although problematic in some areas, the movie tells Jewell’s story in understated yet often heart-rending terms, and is powered by knockout performances from Paul Walter Houser as Jewell, Sam Rockwell as attorney C. Watson Bryant, and Kathy Bates as Barbara "Bobi" Jewell--the proud and anguished mother.
Having just premiered at AFI Fest, the film immediately establishes just who Jewell is: an overweight yet generally good-hearted oddball who dreams of working in law enforcement. He's a guy who spends his time reading the Georgia Penal Code because he finds it interesting. In fact, his short-lived stint as a campus police officer at a local college goes to his head as he pushes students around and overreaches on his duties, leading to a dismissal that will come back to haunt him years later.
Jewell is working security on the night of July 27, 1996 at a concert in Centennial Olympic Park, the public space built expressly for the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. It is there he spies a suspicious backpack underneath a bench near the base of a concert sound tower. Jewell alerts Georgia Bureau of Investigation officers, who determine that the backpack is filled with explosives. At the same time, a call comes into 911 from a male voice warning that the bomb will go off within 30 minutes. But it’s just a few minutes after the call is made, as Jewell and GBI officers are evacuating the park that the bomb explodes, killing one person (a second, a news cameraman, dies of a heart attack) and injuring 111.
As it becomes evident that more could have died, Jewell is at lauded as a hero for his actions, interviewed on TV, and even offered a book deal. But then the dean of the college where he worked calls the local FBI office, headed by Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm), and informs them of Jewell’s troubling campus police stint. Suddenly, Jewell fits the profile of the “false hero:” a lone, white male desperate for attention and fame, interested in the law and weaponry, who may have planted the bomb himself in order to make himself look like a hero by rescuing as many as he can before it goes off. The suspicion soon lands at the local newspaper where reporter Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) is hungry for a scoop. The resulting front page story leads to a devastating media feeding frenzy around Jewell and his mother, all while the FBI attempts to entrap the young man.
Eastwood’s non-showy, uncluttered narrative style is enormously effective in Richard Jewell, advancing the story in stark, clear terms while giving plenty of space for the performances by the three stars. Houser, who played smaller yet similar roles in BlackkKlansman and I, Tonya, is outstanding as Jewell. The script by Billy Ray does not make a saint out of this simple, unassuming man: he is prone to a bit of self-aggrandization and doesn’t know when to shut his mouth for his own good, much to his attorney’s frustration. But he very clearly also wants to do the right thing at all times, has a genuine passion for what he wants, and an unconditional love for his mother. Houser's performance makes him instantly empathetic as an ordinary guy thrust unexpectedly into overwhelming circumstances.
Rockwell, one of the very best actors out there right now, is also terrific as Bryant, an avowed libertarian (he’s got a “I fear the government more than I fear terrorism” sticker hanging above his desk) who’s also in over his head but whose sense of righteousness is awakened by what the FBI is putting his client through. His loyalty and friendship to Jewell never wavers, even as the latter unwittingly plays into the government’s hands. Bates is enormously sympathetic, adding nuance to a role that on the surface might seem somewhat one-dimensional.
It’s with the character of Scruggs that Eastwood, Ray, and Wilde run into serious problems. There is no evidence that the real Scruggs, who died in 2001 at the age of 42, traded sex for information with a law enforcement agent (Hamm’s composite character), although that is what the film alleges. But even without that troubling and superfluous wrinkle, Scruggs here is seen as scheming, obnoxious, cruel, and overly ambitious--a caricature of not just a career woman but a working journalist that is all too pointed itself in an age when the free press is under attack from the government sworn by the Constitution to defend it.
It’s true that the media, along with that government (whose representation by Hamm is more understated but just as villainous), had a lot to atone for in the case of Richard Jewell--and to some degree did, with the Journal-Constitution later publishing the story that helped chart a course for his exoneration. And there’s certainly room to explore Scruggs’ motivations in pursuing the Jewell lead so vociferously. But there has to be a better way than making the character into all but a witch, and implying that she somehow represents her entire profession.
It’s a jarring and unfortunate note in an otherwise masterfully directed movie--especially the first half. The bombing sequence is incredibly well executed, a brilliantly sustained exercise in build-up and tension, and the steady accumulation of details as Jewell’s situation worsens effectively blends melodrama, humour and tragedy.
The second half of the movie does begin to flag, however; many of the later scenes revolve around Jewell, his mother, and Bryant sitting in the Jewells’ apartment, barricaded from the media outside. There is a moment of triumph in the FBI office where Jewell, his anger fully awakened at last, essentially reads the riot act to Shaw and his cohorts, his often previously dull eyes flashing with pain and fury. But lacking a truly cathartic climax, Richard Jewell just gradually winds down.
Nevertheless, its missteps don’t stop Richard Jewell from being an absorbing drama and character study that is both moving and resonant. Its heavy-handed portrayal of the press and government as the bad guys does not mitigate the fact that the media and FBI did do wrong by Jewell (who died in 2007), and the film’s essential message is an avowedly non-partisan one. At the age of 89, Clint Eastwood is still capable of making remarkable films, and Richard Jewell is one of them.

‘Richard Jewell’: Review, Screen Daily, by Tim Grierson, 21 NOVEMBER 2019
Clint Eastwood returns with a true-life story about the security guard wrongly accused of being the Summer Olympics bomber.
Clint Eastwood’s recent tributes to everyday American heroes continue with Richard Jewell, a simplistic but effective drama about the security guard who saved innumerable lives during the 1996 Summer Olympics bombing — only to find himself become the primary suspect. Character actor Paul Walter Hauser presents us with an insecure pushover who longed to be in law enforcement, and the performance nicely captures the complexity of an uncommunicative, sometimes exasperating main character. Sam Rockwell is superb as Jewell’s brusque lawyer, and the entire film benefits from a muted wistfulness, which manages to convey the injustice of what occurred without overselling the theatrics.
Premiering at AFI Fest, this Warner Bros. offering will be released December 13 in the US, moving to international markets in the new year. The 89-year-old Eastwood has had recent success with similar true-life tales, such as 2014’s  American Sniper ($547 million worldwide) and Sully in 2016 ($241 million), but this latest film isn’t top-lined by an A-list star, which may affect grosses.
As the 1996 Summer Olympics begin in Atlanta, Richard Jewell (Hauser) gets a job working security, dreaming of someday becoming a policeman. During a celebration in Centennial Park, he notices a suspicious backpack on the ground, alerting authorities. Some of his colleagues think he’s over-reacting, but Jewell’s instincts prove correct: It’s a bomb, and he and his fellow guards try to move revellers out of the way before it goes off.
The detonation ends up killing two people and injuring more than a hundred, and Jewell is celebrated as a hero for his quick thinking since the casualties could have been much worse. But soon after, the FBI, led by Agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm), believes he fits the classic profile for a bomber. Suddenly under investigation, Jewell turns to Watson Bryant (Rockwell), an unconventional lawyer he befriended at a previous job.
In Jewell (who died in 2007 at the age of 44), Eastwood sees another example of the little guy at war with forces far more powerful than he is, and so it’s not surprising that Richard Jewell is a smooth, straightforward procedural in which Bryant helps restore Jewell’s reputation while taking on the FBI and a ravenous media. (Olivia Wilde plays Kathy Scruggs, a ruthless, manipulative Atlanta reporter who helps break the story that the Feds are eyeing Jewell for the crime.)
Richard Jewell makes a clear distinction between the good guys and the bad guys, which undercuts much hope of nuance. That said, Hauser (who appeared in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman) manages to offer significant shading to Jewell so that we see him for the troubled, flawed person he is. Mocked for his weight and lack of intelligence, Jewell badly wants to be thought of as heroic, which Shaw capitalises on by giving the false impression that they’re law-enforcement peers, hoping to trick Jewell into giving up evidence that will help convict him.
Hauser has a difficult task, playing a not-very-bright man who is so passive and gullible that he keeps digging himself into deeper trouble. (As Bryant will find out, his client has some skeletons in his closet.) Jewell’s inflated sense of himself and his milquetoast personality can be maddening, and Hauser and Eastwood encourage us to get frustrated with their foolish protagonist. Unlike the noble everymen of American Sniper and Sully, Jewell is far more helpless, even pathetic. But that variation on Eastwood’s recent films actually gives Richard Jewell its emotional heft — calmly, the movie documents how an innocent man can be railroaded — and it provides Hauser and Rockwell an opportunity to create an unlikely rapport between these two very different men. (One is idealistic but na├»ve, while the other is bitter but savvy.) Rockwell is like an attack dog as Bryant, who becomes a protective older brother for Jewell, and while his righteous anger is pro forma for this kind of film, it’s also deeply satisfying.
Hamm does solid work as an underhanded FBI agent who is desperate to find the bomber since this attack happened on his watch, while Wilde overdoes Scruggs’ coldblooded ambition. (She becomes a convenient boo-hiss symbol for a corrupt media that sought to crucify Jewell after venerating him.) And Kathy Bates brings real feeling to the thankless role of Jewell’s devoted mother Bobi. Like Arturo Sandoval’s on-the-nose score, the Oscar-winning actress often clues the audience in as to how they should be feeling about Jewell’s ordeal. Thankfully, Eastwood’s sure grasp of this inherently compelling story mostly overcomes his sentimental propensities.