Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Clint Eastwood and Barry Norman

I have a lot of fond memories of watching BBC's Film series on a week day back in the 70s and 80s, it was hosted regularly by Barry Norman and by and large, it always appeared that Norman had struck up a great relationship with Eastwood. I recently discovered this article which tied in with Barry Norman's book 'See you in the Morning' (2013). It's a rather interesting little extract, and thought it may appeal to readers here. I have a few other pictures of Clint with Barry, so I'll update this section once I dig them up as it seems like an ideal place to host them. This story appeared on The Telegraph on line, Oct 2nd, 2013.

Barry Norman: Clint Eastwood is a terrible guy to interview

This is a photograph of Clint Eastwood and me in a hotel room in Dallas in 1978. The meeting came about because Clint specifically asked me to attend a publicity gig for Every Which Way But Loose because he’d been impressed by my frankness in an earlier interview.

Above: Barry Norman recalls a meeting with Clint Eastwood, 1978

On that occasion, I had been among a group of journalists who were flown to New York by Warner Brothers to interview Clint, whom I had never met before, about a film called The Gauntlet. In the movie, Clint goes to Las Vegas to rescue the actress Sondra Locke from the Mafia and brings her back overland to Phoenix so that she can testify against them in a trial. They are pursued by scores of bad guys, Clint fires thousands of bullets, and the only reason they escape is because not one of the mob can shoot straight.

When I was asked what I thought of the film, I said it was very entertaining, but quite preposterous. Clint looked astonished, so I explained my reasoning – the business about the bad guys not being able to shoot straight – which he accepted. But apparently after I left, he turned to the studio honchos and said, 'That guy said the movie was preposterous!’ And they said, 'Oh gee, Clint. He’s a critic, what does he know?’

However, the following year at a press junket in Dallas he specifically asked for me, and after the interview invited me and my producer on Film 78 to have lunch with him and Sondra, who was also his co-star in Every Which Way But Loose. I was flattered but also impressed because this seemed to indicate that unlike most movie stars he didn’t want to surround himself with sycophants.

Another thing I remember about Clint was that we were wearing identical jeans. I’d bought mine at a cheap and cheerful American department store and I thought, 'This is great. He shops like me. If he sees something he likes, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Armani or M&S.’
The lovely thing about him as a director is that he keeps it simple. He doesn’t attempt fancy tricks and tries to get everything in the first shot. He only says, 'We’ll go again’ if it’s absolutely necessary. He brings his films in on budget and on time. No messing about.

I must have interviewed him at least seven times and I’ve always come away dissatisfied. He’s charming, but will never go into any great revelatory depth. He’s a modest man and a terrible guy to interview. But he’s unquestionably the elder statesman of Hollywood.

See You in the Morning by Barry Norman is published by Doubleday, £18.99

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