Monday, 10 October 2016

Tobias Hohmann’s Two Volume Collection of Books on Clint Eastwood

2016 has so far proven to be a good year for books, especially of the Eastwood variety. Earlier this year we were finally treated to Peter Hanley’s long anticipated book on the  making of The Good, the bad and the ugly – a mammoth undertaking that had our bookshelves creaking under its sheer weight and size. Of course, books of such stature do not tend to arrive that often, so I felt fairly safe in the knowledge that my bookshelves would at least have sufficient time to draw breath and recover under the strain before any other similar size slabs were due to be released on Mr Eastwood. It appears I misjudged that ever so slightly - as waiting in the wings was Tobias Hohmann’s second volume on Clint Eastwood. Before we look at his new book, I felt it was a good time to catch up on the story so far and to catch up with the man himself…

Tobias Hohmann’s enormous two volume set of books on Eastwood is truly an impressive piece of work. It’s perhaps all too easy to collate a career overview or a ‘films of’ type book on Eastwood, there’s certainly enough of a career there. Setting aside 3 or 4 pages for each of the man’s films would soon result in a pretty decent size book – but in all honesty, it’s already been done a fair amount of times before. So, what makes Hohmann’s books any different from the rest? Well, straight away it should be pointed out that these two books are written in German, they are after all, German books. Now, if a book that isn’t in English is enough to put you off, please do not waste your time in reading any further. But quite frankly, you’ll be missing out on all the riches that these books actually have to offer.
Long term fans and collectors will of course remember that books printed in foreign text have never really put us off before. One immediately thinks back to those glorious Japanese cine books of the 1980s. We might not have been able to read of word of them, but they are still visually stunning. I think I ended up with four Japanese books in total. Then of course there was Francois Guerif’s book, a French text only book which worked so well on many levels and ended up being a must in any serious Eastwood collection. The point being, I still couldn’t image my collection without the inclusion of these books, they are now essential. The Japanese cine album books are also so collectable these days – and in any part of the world!
Tobias Hohmann’s books work in much the same way, they are firstly a visual splendour, and they are simply beautiful in their presentation. Hohmann’s original book, part one of this amazing set, was originally released in 2015, and unfortunately did tend to slip under the radar among a great deal of Eastwood fans, myself included. Fortunately, I was later able to catch up with part one which covers the period 1930-1979. 

I spoke with Tobias Hohmann recently and first asked him why? Why another book on Clint Eastwood?
Thomas Pollmer (L) and Tobias Hohmann (R)
‘To be honest, I wasn't the one who started this project – it was Thomas Pollmer, a man who probably has one of the greatest Eastwood collections in the world. He has collected nearly everything about Clint over many decades - it´s incredible what he has in his Cellar! Thomas had really enjoyed one of my previous books, the focus of which was Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, and it was Thomas who thought that a book about Eastwood, presented in a similar style, and with the same degree of passion behind the project would be great. But I agree with you, my initial thoughts were the same - why another book on Eastwood? There are several other books on the market already, and it was very unlikely that Eastwood or the people around him would help us. But then I thought a little more about it, and I finally came to the conclusion that a great deal of these books and their approach were often very one sided. The books often reflect a genuine like for Eastwood or the complete opposite, or they focussed solely on his movies or about his private life – but I wanted to achieve something which perhaps reflected a healthy balance between the two. I also believed that you couldn´t entirely separate his private life and his career or for that matter perhaps his career choices and how his private life may have influenced those choices. There was also the fact that Eastwood remains a total legend, his career is just incredible and for me, he´s the last of the classic Hollywood icons. You only have to look at Eastwood’s career over the last 50 years – I mean which other actor or director has achieved so much? So overall, I thought there were enough reasons there to put something together with a fresh feel to it, a slightly different perspective, but overall, I wanted it to also look exceptionally good. When I met with Thomas again, we discussed the format and how we would like to take it, and from there on he placed his trust in me.’

I asked Hohmann, if he always intended his project to be an enormous two volume set?

‘For me personally, yes always. Firstly, you just have to look at how many films he made, look at the kind of fulfilling life he’s had and continues to live – it just can´t work within one book with maybe 500 pages? My publisher on the other hand, he didn´t like this idea at first, but I knew that they would agree. I said to them, “What’s the point if we have 300 pages and we were still in the year 1970?”  So I’m glad they finally came around and agreed or we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now (laughs). But seriously, you have to do it correct if you’re doing something on Eastwood, he deserves that degree of respect. Now, with his career and life over the two books and over 1.000 pages in total, I think we can at least say we really tried to do it justice. If this was the wrong approach - all of the blame is on me.’

I have to say, I don’t really believe Mr Hohmann has too much to worry about. The sheer size of these books is really overwhelming and weighty beasts they are too. The lay out here is very impressive and has each particular chapter opening with a full page reproduction of the relevant German cinema poster, but it all gets even better… Throughout book one there are several very nice fold-out format pages that show off posters really beautifully. However, instead of the double page posters presented in the usual centre spread style (where the centre of the poster is often lost in the centre of the book’s binding), it is instead presented here in a rather unique way, with the right side page folding out (to the right) to reveal a nice flat, full on presentation of the film’s artwork. It’s a concept that I’ve certainly never seen before and it all works wonderfully well.  
It is in the books overall concept, its design and presentation in particular, which really help tip the balance and eclipse the limitations of its German only text. The large majority of pages are packed with an array of memorabilia; lobby cards, advertisements and varying poster designs, all of which are put to incredible use and flawlessly presented. It’s a wonderful way of utilising a great deal of rare items and should prove particularly appealing to Eastwood collectors.
Book 1 Cover Design B

Book one is also available in a choice of two cover designs. Design A is known as the montage cover (see top), a beautifully conceived design which utilises some fabulous original artwork from a various selection of classic Eastwood movie posters. I’m reliably informed by Tobias that stocks of the Design A cover are now running a little short, but more information on that further on. The design B for book one is the regular ‘Enforcer’ style cover.
Hohmann’s books have certainly attracted a great deal of attention. His book on the career of Chuck Norris (here) opened the door to James Fargo. Impressed with his book on Norris, the director of The Enforcer and Every which way but loose was happy to talk with Hohmann at length about the career of Eastwood. But perhaps even more impressively, Hohmann was actually able to persuade Eastwood’s Fistful of Dollars co-star Marianne Koch into talking exclusively for the book. I asked Hohmann, how he managed to get Marianne Koch on board?

‘Marianne Koch´s participation was a big surprise. I didn´t believe for a minute that she would be interested in talking about this time in her life. She had finished her career as an actress many years before and has worked since as a doctor. She simply didn´t talk about her movie career, she hadn’t for a very long time. I thought I would give it a try anyway and in the beginning she was very reserved and reluctant. But I sent her some pictures from the book and eventually she said, “Okay, let's see what I can remember.” She was great, a very nice and highly intelligent woman. I adore her very much and she was also our guest of honour at the book presentation which was unbelievable. We presented the book in a very nice cinema in Munich, Starnberger. We arranged for a special showing of A Fistful of Dollars where Marianne watched alongside us with the press and our guests and friends. Marianne lives there also. She was so friendly and it was incredibly kind of her to spend so much time with us. It was really great to hear her stories and to meet her, she still looks wonderful.’  
 (Left to Right) Thomas Pollmer, Marianne Koch, 'Joe Kidd' and Tobias Hohmann
In August 2016, Hohmann’s second volume on Clint Eastwood became available to complete his epic book collection. Covering the years 1980-2016 (and includes Eastwood’s latest ‘Sully’), the book pretty much follows in the same style as Volume One, with each film chapter kicking off with a beautiful reproduction of the original poster. There are also those great little sidebars within each chapter – like the Pale Rider section, how refreshing it is to see that space is also given to the short lived Pale Rider beer which became a spin off product of the film! It is these great little details that make Hohmann’s books really stand out. Delightful touches such as when his children were born in relation to his films, the co-stars and of course, such brilliant use of the hundreds of lobby cards to illustrate along the way. For this second volume, Hohmann also managed to secure some interview time with David Worth, director of photography on both Bronco Billy and Any which way you can. ‘David Worth was great; he loved the layout and concept of the books too. He´s one of the great storytellers who loved to talk about his work with Eastwood.’ The author also managed to secure Wolfgang Petersen, the director behind one of Eastwood’s greatest film’s from the 90s - In the line of Fire.


‘Getting hold of Wolfgang Petersen was not an easy task because he´s such a busy man. It took us months to finally get an appointment. He was in Los Angeles at this time and was preparing his new movie when I called him. His assistant politely informed me that our time would be strictly limited to just thirty minutes. But I could tell Wolfgang had a great deal of respect and love for Clint. In the end we spoke for nearly two hours and it was a pleasure to hear his stories and memories of Eastwood.’
Hohmann’s second volume book is a real beauty and acts as the perfect companion piece to book one. There is just the one cover option available for volume two – another great poster montage which mirrors the excellent design A cover of volume one. As previously mentioned, each of these top quality books consist of over 500 pages, each of which are crammed with stunning illustrative material. The fact that these books are written in German almost becomes a secondary factor, they are simply that beautiful on the eye and fortunately we have yet to require the knowledge of a language - in order to appreciate genuine beauty.
Quite honestly, I couldn’t recommend them highly enough.
Below I have provided two sets of links for each of the books. However, it is important to mention, in regards to book one – the Amazon link does not guarantee one of the two available cover designs – if ordering book one through Amazon it is entirely down to them which of the cover designs they dispatch. If you require a specific cover design for book one, please use the second link which is that of the publisher, there you will have the option / choice of which cover you require.
Any link can be used for book two as the artwork montage cover is the only option available.
My thanks to Tobias Hohmann for talking to The Clint Eastwood Archive

Book One Links:

Book Two Links:

Some additional images from these wonderful books

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