Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Twilight Time THUNDERBOLT & LIGHTFOOT Full Blu Ray Review

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) Twilight Time Blu Ray review

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot makes a most welcome release to Blu Ray.  The film marked the directorial debut of screenwriter Michael Cimino, a filmmaker who would later experience the full spectrum of Hollywood’s high and low points. Here, Cimino operates at a purely benevolent level, both innocent and opportunist in his approach, Cimino appears to excel in his direction under the conscientious guidance of star/producer Clint Eastwood and his Malpaso Company. By 1974, the 44 year-old Eastwood was both wise and experienced enough to recognise the signs of wasteful and misplaced production values. Big budgeted studio pictures such as Paint Your Wagon and Where Eagles Dare had served as a priceless, cautionary tale that Eastwood would carry with him as part of his evolving education. As one of the emerging breed of Hollywood’s young turks, Ciminio was of course keen to express himself. However, unlike Cimino’s later relationships with the studios, Eastwood arguably retained a firm hold of the leash. Granting Ciminio a certain freedom to express himself certainly proved good, logical sense – and as a result, allowed an innocent freshness to shine through. Nevertheless, one is left with an overwhelming feeling that this may have been one of the rare occasions that Cimino was guided by an experienced hand and advised to either ‘stop’ or ‘move on’.

In its simplest form, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a superior slice of Americana, and you’d be hard pushed not to notice the stars and stripes gently dancing on a breeze somewhere along the journey. At its helm, it is a hugely enjoyable comedy–crime caper, whilst at its heart; we are called upon to observe a richly displayed and extremely well defined character study. The nature of its storytelling is really something to behold, for it is a genuine rarity by today’s standards. The film flows easily at a gentle pace, allowing each and every character to unfold and reveal their layers. To observe a cliché, it really is ‘the kind of film they don’t make anymore’. To explore the plot would serve little purpose, and it is, after all, there for you to discover and enjoy for yourself.
As mentioned above, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is driven by characterization, and this re-evaluation of the film has again certainly highlighted how superior the four performances really are. Eastwood as ex bank robber Thunderbolt appears both relaxed and at ease in his role, an ‘everyman’ of sorts, who projects a confident, laid-back coolness. Jeff Bridges stars as Lightfoot, a brash, quick-witted wiseass with a happy go lucky attitude. In many ways, Bridges steals the show with a wonderful performance that earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. 

The ever reliable George Kennedy plays Red Leary, an angry, violent man who shares a past with Thunderbolt, while Leary’s sidekick Goody is played by Geoffrey Lewis, a harmless rogue and routine lackey. Between the four central characters, the ‘buddy’ element of the narrative is truly defined – between both Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and Leary and Goody. Yet, there is also an awkward darkness that creeps into the proceedings which leaves an unsettling atmosphere - primarily between Lightfoot and Leary. It is a clash driven by disrespect and old school morals. Lightfoot’s lack of conduct and overall demeanour (Lightfoot wears leather pants) are everything that Leary hates about ‘the kid’ and a constant cause of friction between the two. However, the relationships (as well as the characters) are also multifaceted, and questioned beyond the narrative. For example, Thunderbolt is quick to assert a display of masculinity when Lightfoot is threatened, as one would perhaps expect to see a woman’s honour defended by a man… Later in the film Lightfoot is required to dress as a woman in order to aid in the heist – coincidental? This is just one (rather blatant) example of many - which are more diverse and subliminal throughout the film. It is a curious observation of subtext, and one which (I can assure you) creates some fascinating debate. There is also plenty of room to discuss the overall attitude towards women in this film, which is pretty much non-existent, and on the rare occasion when a female character does appear, doesn’t exactly prove complimentary.

   
In comparison, there is almost an innocent modesty about Cimino’s film, a simple ‘no thrills’ look which is defined by Frank Stanley’s extraordinary photography. The Big Skies and sprawling untouched landscapes of Montana almost serve as the film’s purist example of beauty. Dee Barton’s restrained score also adds to the subtle quality and only ‘beefs up’ decisively for the film’s tense final. The highlight of the music is of course the memorable song Where Do I Go from Here (1971) written and performed by Paul Williams.




Much like the unspoilt landscape of Montana, Twilight Time’s 1080p transfer of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot has been beautifully and thoughtfully handled. From the outset, let me point out that Thunderbolt and Lightfoot has always contained ‘film grain’, it’s meant to. It was shot on 35mm film stock, and thankfully the film’s grain is left intact. Unfortunately, too many films from this particular period are ‘ironed out’ to within an inch of their life and therefore eliminate the film’s original look. The opening shots (almost static images of sky and fields) perhaps display the film’s grain at its most prominent – yet is far from a distraction and remains the life blood of celluloid. More importantly, the film has been produced with attention to maximum clarity. Physical, age related artefacts such as dust marks, specks have now been removed, whilst delicate colour grading as resulted in some nice deeper blacks and natural looking skin tones. It is obvious that there has been no attempt to over saturate and because of that, the film retains a genuine authentic look. In terms of audio, Twilight Time has provided a sweet sounding 1.0 DTS HD soundtrack. It’s rather amazing that some people still seem to have a grievance about titles such as this, and specifically why they do not contain a multi-channel soundtrack? It’s quite simple really, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot was recorded in mono (= designating sound transmission or recording or reproduction over a single channel), hopefully, enough said…


Twilight Time’s extras boast the Original Theatrical Trailer which provides just enough to tease you into the story without any spoilers, and nicely showcases composer Dee Barton’s dramatic side of his score. For the first time, we are also treated to Dee Barton’s isolated score – a genuine treat for soundtrack hunters. After listening to the isolated score in its entirety, I can perhaps understand why Thunderbolt and Lightfoot has never been granted a dedicated soundtrack release. Whilst it is nicely composed - it is sparingly used - until the actual heist gets under way. This is where Barton turns up the heat, and his variations of an edgy, electronic theme truly takes hold. It is well worth the inclusion, and a lot of people will be thankful that Twilight Time took this opportunity to make sure that Barton’s score never fell into obscurity. The film’s commentary track proved to be the highlight of the extras. Moderated in relaxed and friendly style, Nick Redman sits down with guests Lem Dobbs and Julie Kirgo. Together, the team provide an endless stream of incredible information. Among the subjects discussed are detailed analysis of virtually everyone that appears on screen, the career of director Cimino, production history and the conspicuous ongoing debate revolving around the Gay/No way subtext. Originating on an internet forum from many years ago, (of which I was one of the regular contributors) both Dobbs and Kirgo discuss at length the evidence behind this extraordinary element of the film which continues to remain the subject of fascinating debate.

Twilight Time has also provided a very nice accompanying booklet containing production notes and a history of the film, all written intelligently by Julie Kirgo. The case cover comes in the shape of the rarely used Style ‘A’ U.S. 1 sheet and containing the fabulous artwork of Ken Barr. A beautiful package, thoughtfully produced and one not to be missed, it’s hard to see Thunderbolt and Lightfoot ever looking better than this.

Warners to release 2 new Blu Ray titles

Yes, our friends at Warner Home Video are set to release 2 new Eastwood titles on Blu Ray, First up will be The Bridges of Madison County. The Disc will feature an Audio commentary by Editor Joel Cox and Cinematographer Jack N. Green, Doe Eyes Music Video, Theatrical Trailer and a making of. There is no information as to the duration of this featurette. The Blu Ray will be released on May 6th.








The following month on June 10th, Warner Brothers will also be releasing Eastwood's excellent 1984 thriller Tightrope. There has been no mention of the extras included at this time.




Friday, 14 February 2014

2 Clint Soundtracks announced First Time on CD!

My old Eastwood buddy Lea St Laurent just contacted me and told me of this news, thanks so much Lea for the heads up!





Any Which Way You Can

SKU: VSD-7236
UPC: 030206723687
Artist: Various
Title: Any Which Way You Can: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Release Date: 2/18/14
Any Which Way You Can was an action comedy film, starring Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis, William Smith, and Ruth Gordon. The film is the sequel to the 1978 hit comedy film Every Which Way but Loose.
The soundtrack features the #1 hit “You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma” by David Frizzell & Shelley West, and the top 10 hit “Any Which Way You Can” by Glen Campbell as well as five other top country hits.

Track List:
1. Beers to You • Ray Charles & Clint Eastwood
2. Any Which Way You Can • Glen Campbell
3. You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma • David Frizzell & Shelley West
4. Whiskey Heaven • Fats Domino
5. One Too Many Women In Your Life • Sondra Locke
6. Cow Patti • Jim Stafford
7. Acapulco • Johnny Duncan
8. Any Way You Want Me • Gene Watson
9. Cotton-Eyed Clint • The Texas Opera Company
10. Orangutan Hall of Fame • Cliff Crofford
11. Too loose • Sondra Locke
12. The Good Guys and the Bad Guys • John Durrill

 

Honkytonk Man

SKU: VSD-7237
UPC: 030206723786
Artist: Various
Title: Honkytonk Man: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Release Date: 2/18/14
Honkytonk Man is set in the Great Depression. Clint Eastwood, who produced and directed, stars with his son, Kyle Eastwood. Clancy Carlile's screenplay is based on his novel of the same name.
The movie featured Marty Robbins' performing the title song (a top 10 country hit) in his final appearance before he passed away. The soundtrack also features Clint Eastwood singing "When I Sing about You" and "No Sweeter Cheater Than You" as well as Clint joining with Marty Robbins, John Anderson and David Frizzell to sing the Jimmie Rodgers classic "In The Jailhouse Now."

Track List:
1. San Antonio Rose • Ray Price with Johnny Gimble & The Texas Swing Band
2. Turn The Pencil Over • Porter Wagoner
3. Please Surrender • David Frizzell & Shelly West
4. When I Sing About You • Clint Eastwood
5. Ricochet Rag • Johnny Gimble & The Texas Swing Band
6. Honkytonk Man • Marty Robbins
7. One Fiddle, Two Fiddle • Ray Price with Johnny Gimble & The Texas Swing Band
8. In The Jailhouse Now • Marty Robbins, John Anderson, David Frizzell & Clint Eastwood
9. No Sweeter Cheater Than You • Clint Eastwood
10. These Cotton Patch Blues • John Anderson
11. Texas Moonbeam Waltz • Johnny Gimble & The Texas Swing Band

12. When The Blues Come Around This Evening • Linda Hopkins

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Universal presents an Alfred Hitchcock picture – Starring Clint Eastwood

Clint and Hitch lunch over Elmore Leonard 's: Unknown Man Number 89  

Sounds rather nice doesn't it... I wanted to put this little piece together, which has been drawn from sources such as books and the internet. It was a project that seemed to hang in the balance around 1977-78. Whilst it ultimately became a project that failed to materialise – it does conjure up some tantalising and rather thought provoking possibilities…   

Alfred Hitchcock, I'm told, was so taken with Lee (the female lead and the character from whom the plot develops) that he got Universal Studios to buy the screen rights of the book for him.  No one knows what Hitchcock has in mind; he died while preparing the film he planned to do before Unknown Man #89.  After his death, a number of the 100-plus producers who had rejected the possibility of the book as a movie now showed considerable interest – what with Alfred Hitchcock’s prints being on the book.  Unfortunately, no one could find out what Hitchcock had planned to do with it, if in fact he planned to do anything at all. I did write an Unknown Man #89 screenplay for Universal, which the studio gave to a talent agency for casting. Elmore Leonard, April 1993.

Unknown Man #89 - a crime novel written by Elmore Leonard was published in 1977. It was also one of the last projects considered by director Alfred Hitchcock.  The gritty Elmore Leonard novel was about a flawed hero up to his neck in criminals and getting caught up with a sad blonde in distress – a tagline that could of been applied to The Gauntlet (1977). 


The novel follows the exploits of Detroit process server Jack Ryan, who has a reputation for finding men who don't want to be found. A string of seemingly unrelated crimes leads Ryan to the search for a missing stockholder known only as "unknown man #89," but his missing man isn't "unknown" to everyone: a pretty blonde hates his guts, and a very nasty dude named Virgil Royal wants him dead in the worst way. This is very unfortunate for Jack, who is suddenly caught in the crossfire of a lethal triple-cross and becomes as much a target as his nameless prey. Along the way, Ryan butts heads with local police, including six-shooter-carrying Dick Speed. The book is perhaps best remembered for a sequence taken straight from The Godfather, where thug Virgil plants a shotgun in the meeting place of his victim, in this case, the fire escape of Bobby Lear's hotel room.

Late in his career, director Alfred Hitchcock flirted with the idea of casting Eastwood as the book’s hero Jack Ryan. Eastwood has touched on the subject in previous interviews. ''Hitchcock wanted me to be in one of his films [which, it turned out, would never be made]. I wasn't nuts about the script. I had lunch with him in his office. When I walked in, he was sitting there very erect and he didn't even move. Only his eyes did. They followed you across the room. He had the same thing for lunch every day — a steak and some sliced tomatoes.'' According to the revised edition of “Hitchcock” by François Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock was seriously considering adapting Leonard's novel Unknown Man: No. 89, to which he had acquired the rights, as his follow-up film to Family Plot (1976) his 53rd film. 
But of course, there never was a 54th film and Hitchcock passed away on April 29th 1980.


Saturday, 8 February 2014

Clint saves life by performing the Heimlich Manoeuver

'It looked bad!' Clint Eastwood, 83, saves the life of choking golf director by performing the Heimlich Manoeuver


By Jonny Lopez, 7 February 2014, Mail online

He's an award winning actor and director. And now Clint Eastwood can add life saver to his resume.

The 83-year-old came to the rescue of a man that was choking while at a golf tournament in Pebble Beach, California on Wednesday. Eastwood was attending a volunteer party on the eve of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am when he noticed tournament director Steve John, 50, choking on a piece of cheese. The Dirty Harry star quickly performed the Heimlich Manoeuver while at the Monterey Conference Center.

Clint with Golf buddy Tiger Woods

The tournament director acknowledges that it was Clint's fast action that saved his life. 'I was drinking water and eating these little appetizers, threw down a piece of cheese and it just didn't work,' Steve said Friday. 'I was looking at him and couldn't breathe. He recognized it immediately and saved my life.' While Clint knew exactly what to do, it was actually the first time he ever used the Heimlich maneuver. 'I looked in his eyes and saw that look of panic people have when they see their life passing before their eyes,' Eastwood told The Carmel Pine Cone.  'It looked bad.' And despite his older age, Steve says Clint is still strong as ever. 'I can't believe I'm 202 pounds and he threw me up in the air three times.'




The 50-year-old survivor said it was the second time in his life someone had to perform the Heimlich on him. 'It was in Colorado about seven or eight years ago. But it wasn't Clint Eastwood,' he said.
'I haven't talked to him since that night. It was crazy.' The Invictus director is a prominent figure at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, formerly as an amateur contestant and now as chairman of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation.  The foundation has risen over $100 million for charity as the host of the PGA Tour event. Clint is often in the CBS tower on the weekend and presents the trophy to the winner, a list that includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker in recent years.
The party is one of the biggest nights of the week. Volunteers are entertained by the celebrities such as musician Kenny G and comedian Tom Dreesen.

Many thanks to my friend Kevin Wilkinson for sending me this story.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Meeting Clint and The Guardian Lecture, NFT 1, Tuesday, 7th October, 2003

I was so lucky to attend this Guardian Lecture, a night which also included a special screening of Clint’s haunting masterpiece, Mystic River. It was a warm evening on London’s South Bank and the beginning of a truly wonderful week. The following Wednesday night (8th October), I also attended the BBC Parkinson show for the recording of Clint’s interview to be broadcast that weekend. During this time I was working for the BBC at Television Centre. However, the evening’s events were about to take an unbelievable turn when myself and a friend grabbed the opportunity to meet Clint after the show. The man was courteous, responsive and generous. I remember someone saying, ‘avoid trying to meet your heroes’ - as it could so often turn out to be a disappointing experience. But meeting Clint, well, it was incredibly special, and a memory I’ll never forget. He was also happy to sign a couple of photos that I had taken along with me as well as an original Escape from Alcatraz script my friend had taken. 
I had been working hard that summer, specifically with an American production company who were producing a special documentary on Clint (Biography) for the A&E (Arts and Entertainment) channel. The finished programme was also being premiered on American Television that very weekend. We mentioned to Clint that we had helped on the production and asked him what he had thought of it? “I haven’t seen it yet” was his laid back response. We mentioned how good Mystic River was, and that we had attended the NFT the previous night. I stuck my neck out to some degree and suggested “I think it’s an Oscar winner…” and to my great relief, of course - it was. It was certainly a magical week and the natural high that came from it - stayed with us for months. I still find myself reflecting on those wonderful couple of nights, and thankfully, the memories are as vivid as the broad grin I find spreading across my face. It’s hard to believe that was over 10 years ago now! I (again) recently found myself reliving those nights in my head and perhaps in order to never allow them to fade, I thought I would post the transcript of the Guardian Lecture interview. I hope you enjoy-

The Guardian Lecture, NFT 1, Tuesday  20037th October

NFT 1
Clint Eastwood, the actor and director, addressed an enthusiastic audience at the NFT ahead of the release of his latest Oscar-tipped film Mystic River. Michael Parkinson put the questions

Michael Parkinson: The oldest adage in the business; the bigger the star, the shorter the introduction. Clint Eastwood.
It's safe to assume you're among friends. We've just seen your film, Mystic River. I think it's 'bloody marvellous', but what's your feeling about it?

Clint Eastwood: I haven't seen it yet.

MP: That's a cop out.

CE: No, I've lived with it for so long - I've lived through the shooting of it, the editing and every other process along the way, so it's not for me to really judge at this point. I'll probably look at it again five years from now to get a fresh feel for it.

MP: But is it as you imagined it?

CE: Yes, it is as I imagined it. It's what I intended when I first read Dennis Lehane's novel.

MP: What was it about the novel that attracted you, because it's a many-layered novel. What was the one thing about it that drew you to it?

CE: I liked the many-layered part. The story was a combination of an emotional tragedy with a parallel investigative piece. But the fact that they converge upon themselves is interesting. I just like to really lay it out... When I first read the synopsis for this: it's about the taking of a child's life, the stealing of someone's innocence, robbing them of their youth. I always thought what an interesting idea because almost everybody's fascinated by the perpetrator of a crime; very few people study what happens to people for the rest of their lives, and how it affects not only that particular character but other characters around him as well.
MP: This is that scene with Sean Penn where he says, "It might have been me, what might have happened then" - the consequences of one action, how it spreads out. What about the actual business of placing this film? When you went to the studios and said "Look, here's this novel. It's very complicated, very adult". Did they leap up and down and say "Oh boy, Clint, thanks for that" or did they say "Ooh, that's going to be tough"?

CE: None of the above. I think they liked the fact that I had faith in the book but I've also gone off on different tangents in my life. Right now, the state of the movies in America, there's an awful lot of people hanging on wires and floating across things and comic book characters and what have you. There seems to be a lot of big business in that, a nice return on some of those. So when I came up with this, they said "Okay, that's fine" and then when I got to the screenplay part they said "Okay, but how much do you want to spend on this?" and I said that I could get a bunch of actors who would want to do it and they said "Okay, we'll do it, but you could take it elsewhere if you want to shop it around". 
[Laughter]
Well, I didn't shop it around but my agent did ask a couple of other studios and they said "We don't do dramas".

MP: So what do they do? Comic book movies?

CE: Yeah, so we asked them that. And they said "Well, we're looking for the next high-concept kind of thing", and I've done a few special effects movies in my life, so I've gotten that out of my system. But with this, really, I just wanted to tell a story about people, about conflicts, and about people overcoming obstacles in their lives. This story did it for me.

MP: Before we continue with the main thrust of this interview, what's your view about the state of movie-making these days? I mean you've just mentioned the special effects. Billy Wilder, a while ago, was asked "What's a modern screenplay?" and Billy Wilder said "The modern screenplay is where you build a set and then you blow it up". That would sum it up basically, wouldn't it?

CE: Yes, that would sum it up. Nowadays you'd have many battles before you blow it up, but eventually you'd take it down. And that's okay, I don't heavily quarrel with that, but for me personally, having made films for years and directed for 33 years, it just seems to me that I long for people who want to see a story and see character development. Maybe we've dug it out and there's not really an audience for that, but that's not for me to really worry about. 

MP: I'm sure there is an audience, and I'm sure that audience has been neglected for a while as well in favour of a younger audience - it's happening across the board, in music, television and in movies as well.

CE: Yes, well there's the question: did the audience leave the movies or did the movies leave the audience? So, we keep trying.

MP: You mentioned that you persuaded a group of actors to come work for you. Was it because they worked at special rates?

CE: No, no. The only one who worked at special rate was me, because I wanted to get it made. I actually went back 33 years, because when I approached the studio to make Play Misty For Me, they said "Fine" very briskly but they said "We don't want to pay you, though. You work for whatever your guild minimum is and if the picture does well maybe we'll give you a few bucks". So I was back 33 years doing the exact same thing. But we paid the actors well, and they're certainly the best American actors we got going today in their generation.

MP: When you're directing actors such as these, and being an actor yourself, what's your strategy? Is there much direction as such?

CE: Most of the direction takes place in discussing the project, the script, the book - in this particular case, as each one came on board, I sent them to Boston and they studied the accents and the Boston neighbourhoods. And I arranged interviews with Dennis Lehane so that they could get a feeling for what he was intending. And so eventually it just clicked together liked that, so that by the time we started everyone was really well schooled on what they wanted to do. And we had a few philosophy talks, but mainly, acting to me is a very organic art form and you just go and do it. And I like to direct the same way that I like to be directed. Let me bring in what I want to bring in, and if something's wrong, just tell me about it and I'll make some corrections or adjustments. And that's what I do.

MP: You direct quickly and efficiently, don't you? You have that reputation.

CE: Yeah, well I'm not sure that's a good reputation to have. Most people like the magic of having it take a long time and be difficult... But I like to move along, I like to keep the actors feeling like they're going somewhere, I like the feeling of coming home after every day and feeling like you've done something and you've progressed somewhere. And to go in and do one shot after lunch and another one maybe at six o'clock and then go home is not my idea of something to do.

MP: And did the actors that you put together for Mystic River go along with this rhythm of your work?

CE: Yeah, they did. They loved it - Sean [Penn] and Tim [Robbins], Kevin Bacon and Laurence Fishburne. I'd worked before with Laura Linney and Marcia Gay Harden - they're both extremely talented and very professional. Every single one of these people wanted to be there, nobody was ever late, nobody was ever reticent about going on the set, everybody had their confidence up, they were confident in the material and they were happy to be doing it.
MP: Well, we're just going to show a clip from the film here. This is just a nice example of what you were talking about.
[runs clip]

MP: Right, some very strong performances there. But let's go back to the very beginning of your career if we can. As a child, were you fascinated by movies? Were they influential in your life?

CE: Yeah, they were. I didn't get to go to a lot of them in my early years but through the ages of 11 to my teen years, I got to go to the movies. We didn't have television, most of our entertainment came by listening, from the radio. I don't want to date myself - we didn't exactly listen on crystal sets, but it was something a little more modern than that. But that was the way things went then. So going to the movies was a very big pleasure - all families went to movies together and sometimes adults would get a subject matter they didn't want the kids to see. But by and large, people went a lot and it was a very nice family outing.
MP: Who were the film stars you admired? Your heroes?

CE: One of the first films I went to - I went with my dad because my mother didn't want to go see a war movie - was Sergeant York. My dad was a big admirer of Sergeant York stories from the first world war. It was directed by Howard Hawks. That was when I first became aware of movies, who made them, who was involved. 
Gary Cooper in Howard Hawks' Sergeant York (1941)
MP: But did you have an ambition at that time?

CE: None at all. It just seemed to be way out of anybody's reach. You took them for their entertainment value and you didn't dissect them much further than that.

MP: In an interview your mother gave in a documentary, she suggested that at this time you were travelling a lot up and down the country because your dad was looking for work and you were therefore fairly rootless, a loner, because you weren't any place too long. And she said that maybe that's where you started becoming an actor - it was the imaginary friends that you had to play with. Is that a wise observation by your mum?

CE: [long pause] Well, it's an observation. I wouldn't say that Mum was unwise. Maybe so. I think kids are natural actors. You watch most kids; if they don't have a toy they'll pick up a stick and make a toy out of it. Kids will daydream all the time. I daydreamed constantly, I was a mediocre student because I would sit in the classroom, the leaves would rustle and I would be off on a journey somewhere. So it was tough to concentrate in those years. But it's amazing, when kids concentrate on a game, to watch the intensity with which they do it. They can be extremely convincing. And the problem with becoming an actor as an adult is that as you grow up you pile all these inhibitions upon yourself, and all the social mores. You get kidded by people as you're growing through your teenage years and into adulthood, and then, you're at the stage where you don't want to make a fool of yourself if at all possible. So when I hit my 20s and wanted to be an actor, I had to think of how to strip all this stuff off and go back to when I was about 10 or 11 and I could just sit there and daydream and place myself anywhere and be anybody, anything that you were pretending to be and do it believably, where actually you would feel on the inside that this was you. That's all it takes, and children are very good at this. Unfortunately, you never see this in children in films because there they get schooled - they have stage mothers and they're giving them line readings. But if you're not giving them line readings and just telling them to be normal, they're fantastic.

MP: But how did you get back to that natural state when you became an actor?

CE: I just joined acting classes and acted stupid. We would have acting classes where you do inhibition-relieving exercises or whatever they were, where you played chickens walking across the floor. How the hell do you play a chicken? I don't know but you tried all kinds of things like that. And you did all kinds of improvisation and they'd have you stand and just be. I had an acting coach who once said "Don't just do something, stand there". They wanted you to not be afraid to just be, just to stand there with your hands at your sides and be able to relate out and not be inhibited. There's really no way to teach you how to act, but there is a way to teach you how to teach yourself to act. That's kind of what it is; once you learn the little tricks that work for you, pretty soon you find yourself doing that. Sometimes you go off to the side of the set and you hit the table or something like that to get your steam up. Or you can do the Olivier trick if you're in a play - you stand behind the curtain and you cuss the audience out and tell them what lowlifes they are and when they open the curtain you've built up all this aggression that's made you look larger than life. So everyone has their little tricks.
MP: It's interesting to look at the iconic status you have now in the movie industry - and deservedly so - as an actor and as a director, and to consider that in those days when you first started, there were a few at the studios who regarded you as not quite having the stuff that the great actors were made of. 

CE: [Pause] Yeah.
[Laughter]

CE: And they were probably right to a certain degree, and to some degree, certain things happen. There's a lot of luck and a lot of things have to fall into place in order to star in films. Sometimes you start out playing a lot of small parts in what have you, and eventually you work into it.

MP: Your luck, of course, brought you Rawhide. That gave you seven years of employment.

CE: Yes, and acting every day. Even if the material is inferior. A lot of the time it was not exciting, but it makes you work with material which is sometimes good, sometimes not so good, so it's a great, great training ground. I think everyone of the actors in this picture have been through that -they've all done lots of things which they've been enthusiastic about or less so, but they did them because they needed the job or they needed the experience. But for me, Rawhide was a day-in, day-out job. You got a chance to be in front of the camera all the time, so the camera no longer was your enemy.
MP: And more than that, too, because you used to absorb the rest of what was happening on the set, didn't you? You weren't just the actor who retired to your trailer after your scene - you'd observe how the director and the producer worked.

CE: Yeah, I was always fascinated by the film directing and film editing. And when we did Rawhide I used to go down to the editing rooms all the time. And I directed a few trailers - they wouldn't let me direct the show but they let me do trailers. Then I went off to Italy and did the films with Sergio Leone down in Spain, and I was very fascinated by the shooting down there. And later on working with Don Siegel, who's a great enthusiast of me directing. He just felt that, because of my curiosity, that I should do it. So he encouraged me, and in 1970 when I had a screenplay that I wanted to do, he said "You know, you must direct it, and I'll be your big backer".

MP: What sort of things did you learn from the two of them - were they the same sort of things or different? From Leone first of all.

CE: Different things. Leone's very imaginative - he was that child we were talking about, he was an adult man with a child's mentality: very, very useful. He just had a very childlike imagination and you could see it in the films - he approaches things with a very operatic kind of delivery. Very good visual, very good sense of the expanse around him, and also the use of close-ups. He was an interesting guy. Don Siegel was much more of an old-school, B-movie director. He made some of the best B-movies ever made - Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Riot in Cell Block 11. So he knew how to do a lot with very little. He was head of the montage department at Warner Bros for years so he knew more about film-making than anybody I knew.
Clint with Sergio Leone
MP: You dedicated Unforgiven to them, Don and Sergio, didn't you? That was your tribute to them.

CE: I did, but that was because both of them were recently deceased and both of them were a big influence. And I thought it would be nice because it's going back to a genre which I worked in with both directors.
Clint with Don Siegel
MP: You've said Mystic River is still too dear, too close for you to give a judgement on it now, but what's your view on Unforgiven?

CE: It's too soon to look back on it. I realise that it was in 1992, but I haven't revisited it in a long time. Again, after you've gone through all the various processes and the film comes out and is very successful, you're almost afraid to revisit it. You want to save it for a rainy day.

MP: Let's have a look at a scene from Unforgiven. This is the scene where a young boy has just killed a man.
[runs clip]

CE: That scene was meant to show that the killing was not without some problems in the personality, in the soul, in the minds of mankind.
MP: What about the character you played, Munny? It seems me that the character you played in those westerns, the stranger who comes into town in Pale Rider, High Plains Drifter - was that him, was that the man, just retired?

CE: Not necessarily. I think all those characters were driven by other things. But this fellow is a renegade... The script was unusual, and I've read a lot of western scripts. But it was unusual because David Peoples had approached it from a whole different thing - the fact that this guy had reached his lowest depths as a person, his background was haunting him and even to the point where he was monogamous to a deceased wife and even in death she continued to be a great influence on him. And here's this young guy coming along who represents everything he was at one time in his life long past - and that's what he realises when he says "That's a hell of a thing you're carrying there". He probably didn't think so when he was that age, but this kid is learning it early, and just as well.

MP: What was interesting about that film was that the villain was given a human dimension; they weren't all bad, were they?

CE: Not at all. Gene Hackman's character very much had his own philosophy about running things in town, he was very much for gun controlling, especially with him controlling it. He liked running a very tight ship, but he had this human thing about building his house and wanting to live a certain type of lifestyle, and unfortunately he had a slight sadistic streak when it came to dealing with what he called lower riffraff. And so, it came back to haunt him a little.

MP: Was it a sort of swan song for your own involvement in the western?

CE: Barring someone coming along with some brilliant concept, some brilliant script that I haven't seen yet, yes.

MP: This is the 100th anniversary of the western this year, so I wonder if you'd be tempted by any offers to revive the genre.

CE: You can't without the story. The story is everything. Whether it's a book or a screenplay, the story drives everything. And if you just go out and try to make one by putting on boots and jumping on a horse and riding off... If you don't have the material, the characters and the things to overcome and conflicts that give life to drama, you don't have it.

MP: You touched earlier on how cinema can explore the consequences of taking life and how it affects people. What about the criticisms levelled at you when you made the Dirty Harry movies? Where do these concerns fit into those films?

CE: Well, that was 32 years ago, and I did a lot of films which were just for entertainment, action films. But Dirty Harry had certain social studies - it was about a man who's somewhat cynical about his work and the treatment of criminals and more interested in the victim than the perpetrator, but done in a cruder way than say, Mystic River, which is about an unravelling. Or even Unforgiven, where you're talking about what happens to your soul. Dirty Harry wasn't affected by anything. He just "removed" people and treated it like that.
MP: So do you think that people who were concerned about it being rightwing...

CE: Well, you can think anything you want. But Don Siegel and I just thought it was an exciting detective story. You can make something more out of it, but that's it.

MP: Do you feel there was an over-intellectualising of those movies beyond what you could see in them, in a sense?

CE: Well, that's happened a lot, and that's okay. There was a lot of that in the 70s with film criticism but today, film as an art form is probably more appreciated in England and France and elsewhere. In those days, people were using reviews to sort of express their own feelings and not to tell you much about the film.

MP: Richard Burton once described your style of acting, rather intriguingly, as "dynamic lethargy". I wonder if (A) you understood what he meant and (B) whether you can tell me?

CE: Well, AA might have been where he was at the time.
[Laughter]

CE: I loved Richard - he was a terrific guy and I enjoyed working with him. And he was great at coming up with things like this. I'm not sure what he meant, though.
MP: Maybe he was pointing out the difference between a stage actor and a movie actor. I mean a stage actor has to do a lot but a movie actor ... as with your Mystic River, you watch the close-ups there, it's all about a lift of an eyebrow or just the drop of an eye, it's not about the grand gesture at all.

CE: No, but it all emanates from the same place as you have to be thinking in the same process. Stage actors are usually much more conscious of speaking up and making sure that everyone can hear in the back of the theatre; a film actor probably thinks of that a little less. Unfortunately, there's a style of acting going round, especially with the younger actors, where they talk without even moving their lip. Maybe it's because my hearing probably isn't what it was 40 years ago but I'm sitting there going "What did they say"? But somewhere there's a happy medium. All of these actors in this film tonight have theatre training, so you can hear them - they're not projecting or grinding away, but you can hear them in normal conversation.

MP: You yourself have never been tempted to do the odd stage performance?

CE: Oh yes, years ago I was. I had the opportunity on several occasions but never took them because I was tied up in television. At this stage in life... But you know, if a project came along, I might try it. But I love films and I love the whole process of making films.

MP: What's interesting looking at the catalogue of films you've been in is finding the strange choices you've made. For instance, working with an orang-utan, with Clyde...

CE: What's the matter with that?
[Laughter]

CE: Yeah, I've made some strange choices along the way. That was a film my agent and everyone else begged me not to do. This is after Dirty Harry and I'd done a lot of action and adventure films and they said "That's not you" and I said "Well, what is me? I don't know". To me it was about reaching out to a younger generation, making a movie that kids could see, with a little less mouth. And there was something hip in an odd way about the movie - this strange guy tells his troubles to an orang-utan and loses the girl, everything about it was a little bit off-centre. It seemed like something to do at the time. 

MP: What was it like working with Clyde, though?

CE: It was great - it was like working with a six-year-old. Supposedly they reach about the level of a seven-year-old child and they only have the attention span of a child, so you have to go on the first take.
MP: We're going to see a clip now from In the Line of Fire. Can you talk us through the process of how you came to do that film?

CE: Well, I was asked if I'd like to act in and direct this film. I'd just done Unforgiven, so I said that I didn't want to direct but we'd find somebody else. So we got Wolfgang Petersen to direct it. It was an interesting script, an adventure story about a secret service man who has great guilt about not performing in another incident. It was a nice script and had a lot of subplot that made it interesting.

MP: And it had a lot about the changing role of women - about your character coming to terms with the new woman, which sets up this scene with Rene Russo.
[runs clip]
MP: You're a complete man of the cinema, not just in directing and acting, but also in music, which has been incredibly important to your work in movies. We've talked about your making uncommercial choices but you've also brought your own passion for a subject to your films - the Charlie Parker film as a case in point. Again, I would imagine the studio was delighted about this idea, that you should do a biopic about a jazz musician.

CE: I sold them on the fact that I thought there'd be a lot of people who'd be interested in it, but it's tough to do a story like that, and that was kind of a downer story, too. Maybe more of a straight downer than a film like tonight's, but it didn't have that many layers. But it was about how brilliant people can sometimes be haunted.

MP: You wondered in the film, didn't you, about what is it that made it so easy for him and so hard for others, the great gift that Parker had.
CE: Absolutely. But on top of that talent, he worked very hard at it. At some point in his life he decided he would have to work very hard - which reminds me of that old joke about the guy who asks a cab driver how to get to Carnegie Hall and the cab driver says "Practise, practise, practise". He worked hard enough at it that he was innovative and he started a new trend and a new way of playing.

MP: Let's take some questions from the audience here.


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Jersey Boys (2014) The Casting and Pre-Production

With a release date of June 20th now announced by Warner Bros, I felt it was time to create a dedicated page for Clint’s new movie. So how did Jersey Boys become Clint’s next project? Well, Clint was working hard in the early half of 2013, specifically to bring a new version of A Star is Born to the screen, however pre-production turned out to be rather troublesome. Singing superstar Beyoncé was set to play the lead role (made famous by Barbra Streisand in the last screen version from 1976). Unfortunately, scheduling issues meant that Beyoncé was unable to commit to the project. She told E! News. 
'I was looking forward to the production of A Star Is Born and the opportunity to work with Clint Eastwood. For months we tried to coordinate our schedules to bring this remake to life but it was just not possible. Hopefully in the future we will get a chance to work together.'   
Bradley Cooper was also linked to the movie, but eventually the project was put on hold. Clint, (not known as a person to hang around), decided to push on with pre-production of Jersey Boys.
JOHN LLOYD YOUNG as Frankie Valli, ERICH BERGEN as Bob Gaudio, VINCENT PIAZZA as Tommy DeVito and MICHAEL LOMENDA as Nick Massi : A Warner Bros. Pictures release.
It was around April of 2013 that reports first began to emerge. The Hollywood Reporter stated:
Sources say the veteran director is looking to push back his "A Star Is Born" remake and focus on the 1960s-set film based on the mega-hit musical. With a planned remake of A Star Is Born stymied by casting issues, Clint Eastwood is close to moving his attention to his next project. And another music-based project might be his choice.
Word has spread around Hollywood that the legendary film-maker has set his sights on an adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys. Multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Eastwood is in talks with production entity GK Films and Warner Bros. to take on the high-profile project, though neither the studio nor the production company or Eastwood's reps would confirm the negotiations.
Based on the mega-hit Tony-winning musical, the story chronicles the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and the group's eventual breakup.
Jon Favreau (Iron Man) had been attached to direct the big-screen adaptation, which originally was set up at Columbia Pictures. Producer Graham King moved the project to Warner Bros. in September after he inked a first-look deal with the studio. But six weeks later, Warners put Jersey Boys in turnaround.
Sources say there were some conversations with TC Fox, but now that Eastwood is in the picture, the project could be heading back to Warners.
Eastwood, whose most recent film as director was 2011's J. Edgar (he starred in and produced but did not direct September's Trouble with the Curve), has long been looking to bring A Star Is Born back to the big screen. Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding is the current choice to star, but that project is having difficulty casting a male lead, with a number of stars passing (Sean Penn's name being the latest to surface). Insiders say Eastwood would look to direct Jersey Boys, then follow with Star Is Born.

Clint Eastwood Eyes Tony Winner John Lloyd Young for Jersey Boys 

On July 18th, 2013, Ryan Gilbert of Broadway Buzz reported:
Director Clint Eastwood has begun the casting process for his previously reported film adaptation of Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons’ rise from obscure local band to rock ‘n’ roll sensation. According to Variety, Eastwood and producer Graham King are hoping to sign up Tony winner John Lloyd Young as well as Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda and Boardwalk Empire actor Vincent Piazza for the film. The four actors have yet to be officially offered roles, but Warner Brothers is reportedly in discussions with Eastwood and King over the potential casting. Young would play Frankie Valli on screen, the role that nabbed him the 2006 Best Actor in a Musical Tony Award, Bergen previously played the role of Bob Gaudio in the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys and Lomenda would play Nick Massi, a role he previously played on the national tour of the show. Piazza would play Tommy DeVito, the role that won original star Christian Hoff a Featured Actor in a Musical Tony Award.

Christopher Walken To Play Mobster Gyp DeCarlo In Clint Eastwood’s ‘Jersey Boys’

July 23rd, 2013 Deadline.com  By MIKE FLEMING JR
Director Clint Eastwood has set Christopher Walken to star in Jersey Boys, the Warner Bros and GK Films feature adaptation of the hit stage musical. Walken will play the role of Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo, the Jersey mobster who, in the show, served an unofficial consigliere role to the young singers as they tried to build their careers without falling into the grip of organized crime. The film was scripted by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and production begins mid-September in Los Angeles. Graham King and Rob Lorenz are producing and Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio are the exec producers. The Tony-winning stage musical has grossed more than $1 billion for all its incarnations. Deadline revealed that Eastwood was not going to cast major stars to play the young singers but rather select them from the various casts taking the stage nightly. Reports are that Eastwood chose Vincent Piazza, John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, and Michael Lomenda. Walken will be the first of several stars who’ll add some name recognition to the production.

Donnie Kehr, Joins Cast of Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys Film

On August 5th 2013 Adam Hetrick and Andrew Gans of Playbill announced:
Donnie Kehr, who originated the role of Norm Waxman in the Broadway production of Jersey Boys, will recreate his performance in Clint Eastwood's film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical.

Erich Bergen Cast as Bob Gaudio in Clint Eastwood’s ‘Jersey Boys’; Two More Join Cast

On August 8, 2013 JEN YAMATO of Deadline reported:
The Jersey Boys movie has cast its Bob Gaudio and they’ve plucked him right off the stage. Erich Bergen will reprise his role of the Four Seasons singer in the film after playing Gaudio in the Tony-winning Broadway show’s first national tour and onstage in LA and Las Vegas.
Erich Bergen

Clint Eastwood‘s Jersey Boys adaptation keeps filling out the cast of its jukebox musical cast. Deadline hears that Mike Doyle (Shameless, A Gifted Man, Law & Order: SVU) has closed a deal to play Bob Crewe, the music producer who helps mould Frankie Valli and his bandmates into the Four Seasons, in a non-singing role. Taking the role of Nick DeVito is Johnny Cannizzaro (The Muppets, Lost Angels). Nick DeVito is the brother of Tommy DeVito and a founding member of The Variety Trio, the group that began singing together before linking up with Valli and eventually becoming the Four Seasons.





Jeremy Luke, Joey Russo Join Clint Eastwood's 'Jersey Boys'

August 2013 The Hollywood Reporter announced:
Jeremy Luke and Joey Russo have been cast in Jersey Boys, the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, which will be helmed by Clint Eastwood. Jeremy Luke, who has been cast to star in Frank Darabont's upcoming TNT drama Lost Angels, will play Donnie, a loan shark who is trying to extort money from Frankie Valli. Joey Russo has been cast as Joe "Joey" Pesci, who helped create the '60s musical group. Luke and Russo, friends in real life, both hail from Staten Island and moved out to Los Angeles together. They created the web series Turbo and Joey. 

'Jersey Boys' Broadway Actress to Reprise Role in Movie

On August 27th, 2013 The Hollywood reporter posted:
Erica Piccininni is going back to Jersey. Piccininni, who starred in Jersey Boys' original Broadway production, will reprise her role in the Warner Bros. film version of the Tony-winning musical being directed by Clint Eastwood.

Piccininni will play Lorraine, an attractive Detroit reporter who meets Frankie (John Lloyd Young) for an interview and begins a sizzling affair with him. It was also reported that The Sopranos actress Kathrine Narducci will star in Jersey Boys as Frankie Valli's mother, Mary Rinaldi. 




On August 28th, it was also confirmed that John Lloyd Young is to play Frankie Valli. Young had been previously rumoured to be Eastwood and producer Graham King's top pick to portray the famous falsetto-singing Four Seasons front man. 


Freya Tingley as Francine Valli

As far as I could establish, 19-year-old, Perth-born actress Freya Tingley appeared to join the cast in the September of 2013. Freya originally sent in her audition on videotape. After landing the part, she didn’t meet director Eastwood until her first day on the set in Los Angeles. So was she nervous or overawed when she first met the legendary director?
Not a bit. I was really excited!
I auditioned for the casting director and my tape was sent off with two other girls to Clint Eastwood, and he was taking a look at the tapes and picked me,' Tingley said.
‘I'm a big fan of the 70s for film. I feel like it’s a golden era of film and he's such a big contributor of that era. So to be working for someone who is so renowned and respected is really exciting.’
Tingley loved the opportunity to work with Eastwood in the film, where she plays Frankie Valli's daughter.
‘He's a very calm and knowing person, he just knows so much,’ she said. ‘Before I was going to be working for him, I did my research and decided to YouTube some actors who had worked with him. Meryl Streep said when you're being directed by him, you don't know you're being directed by him. So when I was on set, he'll talk you through the scene rather than tell you “I want you to do this”. I liked his way of directing.’



Filming and the speed of Eastwood’s output! 

Clint of course has a reputation of bringing in a film on time and under budget. I have to say, I was somewhat staggered by how quick this was in the can! No sooner had I started watching the casting in August – by October the filming was finished! Here are a few stories that appeared along with some pictures that surfaced at the time.

Frankie Valli Discusses JERSEY BOYS Movie

September 27th BWW
Legendary Four Seasons front-man Frankie Valli discusses the highly anticipated new stage-to-screen adaptation of his hit Tony Award-winning Best Musical JERSEY BOYS in a new radio interview in promotion of an upcoming concert gig.
"Clint Eastwood is directing - it's really very, very exciting," Valli says.
In remarking upon the iconic actor and director taking the reigns of the 60s-set property for the big screen, Valli relates, "He's terrific. I was a big fan for many, many years, and getting to meet him was terrific."
Eastwood's musical background informed the decision to place him in the director's chair, as well, Valli asserts.
"That's why we were excited about him doing this," Valli says of Eastwood's extensive jazz and movie scoring resume. As for differences between the stage and screen iterations, Valli recounts, "It will be a lot like the play, except things that you can't do in a play that you can do in a play - it's been very interesting."
As far as the casting and the prominence of theatre actors in major roles in the movie, Valli states, "There are a couple of the people who have been in the play production."

Final Week of Filming On JERSEY BOYS Movie

October 8 2013, BroadwayWorld
The first photo captured of the main foursome together (above), along with some friends, has finally made its way onto social media, with headliner Erich Bergen taking to Twitter to write, "Beginning the final week of #JerseyBoysMovie. Missing these boys already," along with a shot of the titular stars sharing some off-the-clock time together.

Right: Another glimpse at master director Clint Eastwood on the set of the film has leaked, shared by supporting player KARA PACITTO who is shown in full leopard-print costume, tagged with the caption, "Had a great time with the nicest cast and crew"

      
      
Renee Marino utilized social media to share a pic of herself participating in a new photoshoot in promotion of the highly anticipated big screen tuner, as well, writing, "Such a fun day shooting new pics with @emmajanephotos #jerseyboysmovie".


Left: featured player Annelise Marie posted a selfie of herself from the set of the film, as well, labeling it, "My look on set today for new Jersey Boys movie that takes place in 1950s #timemachine #setlife #bts #selfie".



JERSEY BOYS is directed by Clint Eastwood based upon the Broadway musical featuring the music and lyrics of Bob Gaudio & Bob Crewe, written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The film stars John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda, Mike Doyle and Christopher Walken.

Of note, JERSEY BOYS is currently in production, with reports confirming the cast and crew shooting on location throughout Los Angeles. As BroadwayWorld reported last month, Frankie Valli has expressed extreme enthusiasm with the feature film and its director.



Clint Eastwood - Clint Eastwood 'perfect' for Jersey Boys

Bang Showbiz 4th January 2014
'Jersey Boys' producer Graham King says he knew right away that Clint Eastwood was the perfect guy to direct the big screen adaptation of the musical stage show.
Clint Eastwood was the ''perfect'' choice to direct 'Jersey Boys'.
Although some eyebrows were raised when the legendary actor-and-director was announced to helm the movie adaptation of the Broadway and West End musical - which charts the rags-to-riches rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - producer Graham King insists he knew he was the right person for the job from the start.

King explained to Empire magazine: ''I knew he had this musical background and that's what made him perfect for 'Jersey Boys'.

''He'd been struggling to set up 'A Star is Born' and within 48 hours of receiving 'Jersey Boys', he called me and said he loved it. He hadn't even seen the show at that point, so I recommended he go and check it out, so he did and that was when he decided he had to make it. It really was as easy as that.

''He works very quickly; it's been amazing to see his process. He first read the script in March and here we are in December with a finished movie.''
King was also insistent on casting the four stage stars who played Frankie Valli and his cohorts on Broadway rather than hiring Hollywood actors.
He said: ''I've always tried to stay away from gimmick casting. We certainly didn't shut the door on name actors and we looked at a lot of people across the board, but it was hard to envision a movie star playing Frankie Valli. The audience wouldn't buy it and the guys that did the show did such a phenomenal job. It was hard to put anyone else in front of them and think they could do a better job.''