Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Cowboy Favorites LP and early single recordings

Whilst Clint’s 1963 album is already featured elsewhere on this site, I thought it would be interesting to look at it a little deeper. There have since been numerous CD releases and the album has even come full circle with a vinyl re-release in 2016. I thought it might be a good idea to also look into Clint’s 7” singles that were also released during this early period. I will also look into the different CD issues and weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of what each CD has to offer.
Clint’s music career actually predates the Cowboy Favourites LP for which he is perhaps most famously (or infamously) associated. The story begins in 1961. Clint was already an established household name, due to Rawhide which had been running on the CBS network since January 9th, 1959. It wasn’t unusual for the music industry to try and capitalise on young teen idols of the TV screen. Some young stars were already being drafted into the studios to make recordings; for example, Johnny Crawford of The Rifleman (ABC 1958 – 1963), had five Top-40 hits. There is very little known of Gothic Records, other than they were based in Hollywood,California. 
However, the idea came about largely in order to exploit Clint’s popularity on Rawhide. Clint was hardly a teen; in fact he was 31 years old at the time but still had the boyish good looks that were appealing to the girls. It is unclear how the offer or idea to record presented itself. His financial advisor at the time was Irving Leonard and it’s believed that his talent agency was Mitchell Gertz whom he had signed to in 1957. However it came about, it was presumably ‘green lighted’ by one or both of these gentleman.

Unknown Girl / For all we Know (GOX 005) was released as a 7” 45rpm by Gothic Records in August of 1961 - which suggests it was recorded during the summer break in between the filming of Rawhide. 
Unknown Girl (of my dreams) was a routine ballad written by Darlene Paul who also had a brief singing career with both Atlantic and Capital Records. For All We Know was a popular and established song published in 1934. 

The music was written by J. Fred Coots and the lyric by Sam M. Lewis. Nat "King" Cole had recorded it and used it as a B side to Nature Boy in 1952, as had Nina Simone in 1958. As a Jazz fan, it is entirely possible that Clint was influenced by one or both of these artists’ recording of the song. 

Nevertheless, Clint’s first vinyl cut failed to do very much and it has since been recorded as not reaching the chart. It did however produce a nice picture sleeve and the single cut has become something of a collector’s piece these days. It was also the only recording Clint made for Gothic Records.
Clint’s next piece of vinyl was also in the way of another 7” 45rpm, this time from GNP Crescendo Record Co. GNP was an independent record label founded in 1954 by Gene Norman and continues to operate from Hollywood, California. 
Released in February 1962, Get Yourself another Fool / For You for Me for Evermore (GNP 177X) was produced by Larry Stith, the man responsible for also producing Unknown Girl. 
Get Yourself another Fool was written by Edward W. Mitchell and previously recorded by The Charles Brown Trio in 1949. The original recording is a great bluesy, mellow Jazz number featuring Brown accompanying himself on piano with lyricist Eddie Mitchell on bass and Charles Norris on guitar. It’s a simple, uncomplicated track. Unfortunately, Clint’s version of the song is provided with an upbeat, almost ‘jaunty’ musical backing with added strings. It’s almost as if there is an obligation (on the record company’s part) to provide that old ‘cowboy trail’ rhythm and backing track, they seemingly can’t resist. 
The grey strip that obscured the Gothic Records ID
It was all about exploiting the TV show at any given opportunity. In fact, GNP Crescendo had gone one step further than Gothic Records. In an almost identical picture cover, GNP Crescendo had added the words ‘Star of Rawhide’ to both the sleeve and the record label. Curiously, I do still wonder if Gothic Records were linked with GNP Crescendo or perhaps even a subsidiary. Firstly, Larry Stith acted as producer on both singles, which suggests that both recordings came from the same sessions and secondly, there’s that sleeve? Was it already printed up as Gothic’s next release? Had Gothic Records folded in between Clint’s singles and subsequently picked up by GNP Crescendo? Strangely enough, the strongest evidence seems to appear on the reverse side of the ‘Get Yourself another Fool’ cover. As mentioned above, the reverse of both sleeves are practically identical, except for a rather mysterious dark strip which appears exactly where the words ‘Gothic Records Hollywood, California’ were printed on Clint’s first single (left). 
It seems pretty obvious that this had been designed in order to obscure that identification mark. The single’s B-side "For You, For Me, For Evermore" was a George and Ira Gershwin composition written around 1936 -1937. It was something of a strange choice which probably didn’t help do much for its sales. It has also since been recorded as failing to enter either the U.S. or Canadian charts.
Billboard News September 21st, 1963. Cameo / Parkway studios - Above, Dave Edelman who worked on Cowboy Favorites
The UK picture sleeve single on Cameo / Parkway
During 1962 Clint and GNP Crescendo had parted company. However, another label was waiting to eagerly sign him up. Cameo-Parkway Records were the parent company of Cameo Records and Parkway Records which were both major American Philadelphia-based record labels from 1956 (for Cameo) and 1958 (for Parkway) to 1967. 

In 1962-63, Cameo was running short of star acts, so the label turned to television signing up both Clint and Merv Griffin. Despite the poor history of Clint’s first two singles, Cameo-Parkway must have had a degree of faith in Clint, and there was probably good reason – Rawhide was into another season and continued to be extremely popular. 

A single was recorded (in November and December, 1962) at the Cameo Parkway Studios, Philadelphia and planned for the Christmas Holiday season.


In December 1962 Rowdy / Cowboy Wedding Song (C 240) was released on both sides of the Atlantic. Rowdy was a tailor-made little ditty, an intended theme song for Eastwood's Rawhide character. The song was written by Texan singer Jesse Lee Turner who had scored a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959 with the novelty song Little Space Girl – but failed to do little else. Cowboy Wedding Song was written by Ben Raleigh and Artie Wayne and was a rather tedious song if truth be known. What remains fascinating about this single, is that most people still believe that Rowdy was the A-side. Yet, on the U.S. version of the 45, it was in fact Cowboy Wedding Song and Rowdy was instead used as the B-side of the single.
Above: The U.S A-side, Cowboy Wedding Song and the U.K. A-side, Rowdy

So what was the confusion? This is probably attributed to the UK single. Yes, it’s a fact; Rowdy was released in the U.K. as the A-side. Moreover, the UK version of the single was also released in a rather nice picture sleeve; I have yet to discover a U.S. picture cover. The U.K. sleeve has always been the prominent image associated with this release and as such, most assume this to be the generic U.S. release. With the vivid black wording of ‘ROWDY’ scrolled across the front, the myth (and misunderstanding) is fully cemented. Regardless of how good the U.K. single looked, the one common denominator remained, neither version failed to enter the chart.
Regardless of the poor single sales, Cameo Parkway went ahead and released ‘Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood sings Cowboy Favourites’ (C-1056) in September 1963. The recording sessions took place on May 13th and 14th 1963 at Fine Recording’s Bayside, Queens Studio in New York. Twelve tracks were selected for the album.

Cowboy Favourites provided exactly what the title suggested, Clint's versions of classic cowboy-style tunes. Clint would undoubtedly be the first to admit that he was not the finest vocalist ever born on the planet, but he was hardly the worst. It was a period in time where plenty of other equally handsome young men (with a ‘limited’ vocal range) were also being pushed and promoted as popular singers. Cameo Parkway was certainly no different and keen to push their new star. Their original album liner notes stated:


The folk songs that truly represents a branch of American culture, is the western cowboy song. Ever since courageous Americans crossed the prairies, western songs have been popular. And there is no better prototype of that ‘cowboy’ than Cameo/ Parkway's recording artist, Clint Eastwood, a ‘native’ westerner and a ‘natural’ performer. ABOUT THE SONGS -- During the long watches of the dark night, as the cowboy rode around the milling herds, he sang colourful ballads and melodies. Alone with just the moon, the stars and the herd, the songs of the cowboy were often plaintiff, sad and emotionally moving. He sang of his home, his girl, his land of dreams and his hopes for tomorrow. In the Cameo recording, Clint Eastwood presents an exciting song picture of the west - as it was. He vividly describes the life of the cowboy...he sings of their dreams, their sorrows and their joys. And, he sings this unique collection of ‘Cowboy Favourites’ with an intimacy and style that marks him as a true show business ‘great.’
On this hi-fi recording, listen to his outstanding performance as he sings: "Bouquet of Roses," "Sierra Nevada," "Don't Fence Me In," and "Are You Satisfied (*co-written by Clint’s Rawhide co-star Sheb Wooley)." Other folk classics equally outstanding are: "Santa Fe Trail," "Last Roundup," "Mexicali Rose," Tumblin' Tumbleweed," and "Twilight on the Trail." Included also are "Searchin' for Somewhere," "I Love You More," and "San Antonio Rose." This album represents a collection of songs closely identified with the spirit of America. Here, then, Cameo/Parkway's talented vocalist Clint Eastwood, and America's most popular "cowboy favourites" an unsurpassed combination that spells ‘entertainment.’
German pressing of Cowboy Favorites
Over the passing decades, the album still manages to retain a certain charm, there’s a real innocence and sentimentality about it, regardless of its cheesy style. After all, it is often such flaws which make it so enjoyable. Later reviewers such as J. Allen have remarked on it as:
Eastwood's soft, somewhat laconic croon might not possess the commanding quality that was de rigueur for the era's country stars, but he never strays off-key, and his style is a kind of cross between legendary cowboy singer Roy Rogers and Dean Martin. Most of the tunes he tackles here were already well-known in hit versions by other artists -- The Sons of the Pioneers' ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds,’ Bob Wills' ‘San Antonio Rose,’ Gene Autry's ‘Mexicali Rose,’ etc. The loping rhythms, lonesome harmonica, lazy guitar licks, and male backing-vocal choruses are all in keeping with the production conventions of the day for cowboy artists.


Netherlands LP pressing PCP206 released in 1965
Whilst I wouldn’t entirely agree that Clint ‘never strays off-key’ or that his singing style should be shared in the same breath as Dean Martin, I do agree that the production values are in keeping with convention. ‘Cowboy Favourites’ is very much a product of its time and as long as the listener remains mindful of that fact, the easier the listening experience will always be. Cameo Parkway produced a lovely album cover with a nice photo of Clint taken in full Rawhide regalia. The design (from what I’ve seen) is pretty consistent with other editions, with the exception being the German pressing (above). The album didn’t do well in terms of sales, and before long Cameo Parkway reverted back to their more traditional genres including jazz and several albums by Maynard Ferguson and Clark Terry among others. The original vinyl is still a collectable piece, it took me years to eventually track one down and add it to my own collection. However, whilst Cowboy Favourites, in general slipped further into obscurity, time eventually proved to be somewhat favourable in respect of its fate... 
LaserLight Digital was a label owned by the Delta Leisure Group and formed in the 1980s. It was a label which often picked up public-domain material. Nevertheless, it was still something of a surprise when in 2002 the company released a CD titled Clint Eastwood COUNTRY Favourites (21 981). It was really something of an eye opener and certainly unexpected. Aside from a slight change in the title’s wording, it actually contained the entire Cowboy Favourites album – on a digital CD! In addition to this, the CD also contained bonus tracks in the form of  four themes from, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars and The Man With the Harmonica (from Once upon a time in the West). Unfortunately, they were all rather weak cover versions performed by The Western Sound Orchestra? The cover was also a rather shabby affair, and wasn’t related at all (perhaps for copyright reasons) to the original album concept. Instead we had a tourist type photo of what looks like monument valley with a sidebar film strip featuring three shots of Clint (from Bronco Billy, High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider). Despite its visual flaws, it did however provide a breakthrough in terms of audio, and at last Eastwood collectors could now enjoy listening to it free of any pops or cracks. After the U.S. branch of Delta folded in 2007, LaserLight Digital eventually went into dormancy.
In 2010 the well-respected label Ace records released a new version of Cowboy Favourites (UK and Europe - CDCHM 1269) (in the U.S. - Cameo - C-1056, Collectors' Choice Music - CCM2110). With this release, it was established that the license now belonged to ABKCO, a music publisher and film production company that was founded in 1961 as Allen Klein & Company. Allen Klein was a controversial American business manager specialising in music clients such as Bobby Darin and Sam Cooke and later went on to manage The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.  
This new release also benefited from a complete audio restoration by The Magic Shop & ABKCO Studios in New York, and the results are superb. Unlike the previous LaserLight release, there were also a couple of genuinely relevant bonus tracks, consisting of Clint’s Cameo Parkway single Rowdy and Cowboy wedding song. Furthermore, the CD proudly displayed a beautiful reproduction of the original album artwork. Backed by some fine liner notes by James Ritz, it felt as if Cowboy Favourites had finally arrived with a degree of respectability and style.              
One could easily be forgiven in thinking that this is where the Cowboy Favourites story ends, but there was more to come. In 2010, U.S. label Real Gone Music continued the story. The vinyl LP was once considered a dead format, one which was only cherished by devotees, a niche society of collectors with a passion for hunting down and buying past treasures. 

However, recent times have seen some form of resurgence in the format. Real Gone Music certainly displayed a degree of confidence by re-releasing Cowboy Favourites (RGM-0040) for the first-ever time on 180 gram vinyl. 

The reissue was an identical mono representation of the original 1963 album and contained no extra tracks.
(Left: Back cover of Real Gone Music's vinyl album)
In 2014, Not Now Music based in London, England released another superb 2 CD collection titled, Clint Eastwood & Frankie Laine, The Singing Cowboys (NOT2CD534). At first glance, one might think that this is something of a cheap and cheerful copy, when in fact, it is anything but that. In terms of value for money, and its content, it is arguably the best choice currently available. The two CDs are split between Eastwood and Laine with Clint’s content taking up Disc One (45.09). If you think that the running time looks a little rich for the Cowboy Favourites album, you’d be perfectly correct in your assumption, but for all the right reasons. The wonderful thing about this collection (aside from great audio, excellent packaging and slip case cover), is the bonus material. With the exception of ‘Get yourself another fool’ all of Clint’s single material from this period is included over five bonus tracks. In respects of ‘Get yourself another fool’ it remains something of a mystery. Why include a B-side and omit the A-side? 
Perhaps it’s a simple case of the master recording being damaged or even lost? It’s a great shame the track is not included here as it would of encapsulated Clint’s entire recording history for this period. But of course, there is so much more. The Frankie Laine disc is also a full and enjoyable listen (64.51) especially for the western fan and there is a smooth sense of connectivity. The most important connection of course is the theme to Rawhide which kicks off the CD and will for evermore link both Eastwood and Laine. There’s lots of other great western film and TV hits including Champion the wonder horse (1955), Gunfight at the O.K. Coral (1957), The 3:10 to Yuma (1957) and much more. There is also Laine’s recording of 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds', so you can compare it with that of Clint’s. Although it’s stated in the CD booklet that Eastwood and Laine did not work together, that isn’t exactly true. Laine appeared as Ralph Bartlett in an episode of Rawhide (Incident on the Road to Yesterday) in 1960.  Both men became good friends, which lead to Clint writing the foreword for Laine's 2009 biography, Mr Rhythm: A Tribute to Frankie Laine. The greatest thing about this CD is that it can be picked up for less than £5.00 with free (UK) postage on Ebay, and offers incredibly good value for money.
Finally, and to (perhaps) bring the story of Clint’s Cowboy Favourites full circle, July 1st 2016 saw another release by Real Gone Music – and again, it was back to vinyl. It’s perhaps fitting that this final entry arrives in the format in which it first began its 1963 journey. Real Gone Music’s additional vinyl release could be described as something of a novelty, while to others it’s arguably a rather nice collector’s piece. Cowboy Favourites (RGM-0435) is a very limited edition (300 pressed worldwide) mono reissue in Brown Tobacco coloured vinyl. Whilst it is one that will probably only appeal to the serious record collector or indeed the equally serious Eastwood collector, the word is, it’s already becoming very scarce. In fact, Real Gone Music’s own website already has it listed as sold out.
There is something rather charming about the renewed interest surrounding Cowboy Favourites. Someone actually once described it to me as ‘ear bleedin’ warblin’, but it never fails to make me smile. However one may choose to categorise it, there’s no denying, it continues to evoke and divide opinion. Personally, I’ve always prescribed one simple piece of advice to the prospective listener: Remove your serious face, plant tongue firmly in cheek and press play...

© Darren Allison, The Clint Eastwood Archive 2017

*To avoid any confusion and due to Microsoft’s Word software, Cowboy Favorites (as the original album is titled) is referred in the main body of text as Cowboy Favourites.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Extras needed for Clint's movie filming at Robins AFB

Clint begins filming at Robins Air Force Base August 1
The new movie directed by Clint Eastwood ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ will be filming at Robins Air Force Base next month. Tammy Smith Casting put out call for extras in the upcoming film ‘The 15:17 to Paris” based on the similarly named autobiography by Jeffery E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sandler, and Alek Skarlatos. They are looking for military men and women between the ages of 18-30.
Department of Defence cardholders are preferred and you will need to bring a copy of a signed application for off-duty employment sign by your supervisor. You MUST be on leave or in off-duty to be in the film.
July 21st, 24th and 25th - filming in Atlanta
August 1 filming at Robins AFB !
 *You must be available for at least 1 or more of the dates above to submit.
Filming starts early in the morning and lasts ALL day so your complete day(s) need to be open!
PAY RATE is $125 for 8 hrs, with OT after that, each day you work. A normal film day is approximately 12 hrs long. Meals are provided along with plenty of breaks!
Email projects1@TScasting.com with the subject line “MILITARY” along with the following:
First and Last Name
Phone number(s)
Email address
City and State where you live (where you will be coming from!!)
Age, Height, Weight
SIZES (Men: Jacket, Collar, Sleeve, Waist, Inseam, Shoe…Women: Dress, Pants, Bust/Bra/Cup, Waist, Shoe )
List your RANK and SPECIALTY, along with your BRANCH of the Military, how long, etc…
List WHICH OF YOUR OWN UNIFORMS YOU HAVE (they must still fit ;-)
List your Athletic skills (Sports, Martial Arts, etc…)

List IF you have experience as an extra in the past or any acting experience (not required, but good to know!)

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Clint casts actual heroes in his forthcoming film The 15:17 to Paris

My thanks to friends Jayne Smart and Dave Turner who both sent me this story yesterday. It appears that both CNN Entertainment in the U.S. and the BBC in the UK ran with this story.

The BBC reported:  Clint Eastwood's new film about three Americans who stopped a terror attack on a train to Paris will star the real-life heroes of that 2015 incident. Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone will play themselves in The 15:17 to Paris, based on the book they co-wrote with Jeffrey E Stern. Actors will play younger versions of the trio in the film, which is thought to focus on the three men's friendship. The men were awarded Legion d'honneur medals for their actions. They also received a hero award from Eastwood himself at an awards ceremony last year. Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone were among a number of passengers who overpowered a heavily armed man who had opened fire on the train. Stone and Skarlatos were both off-duty servicemen, while Sadler was a student at California State University. The man they apprehended was later named as Ayoub El-Khazzani, a Moroccan believed to have had links to radical Islam.
Sandra Gonzalez of  CNN reports:  Three of the men who helped thwart a terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris will star in Clint Eastwood's upcoming film about the incident, "The 15:17 to Paris," Warner Bros. Pictures has announced.  Anthony Sadler, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone will appear as themselves in the film, alongside Jenna Fischer ("The Office") and Judy Greer ("War for the Planet of the Apes").
The movie will follow the lives of the three men leading up to August 2015, when the trio successfully stopped an alleged ISIS terrorist from launching a gun attack on a high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. The men, who have been friends since meeting as young boys in California, were hailed as heroes after the thwarted attack, as were two other passengers.
The movie is based on a book written by the trio and author Jeffrey E. Stern, called "The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes." This is the first time Eastwood has cast the real-life person or people that inspired the story on which his film is based.
Below: Left Judy Greer, Right Jenna Fischer
  
Below: Honorees Anthony Sadler, Specialist Alek Skarlatos, and Airman First Class Spencer Stone accept the Hero Award from actor/director Clint Eastwood onstage during Spike TV’s 10th Annual Guys Choice Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on June 4, 2016 in Culver City, California.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Incredibly rare 1955 cutting and two superb studio photos

Click to enlarge
Late last night I was contacted by our long time friend Kevin Walsh in California. In the early 80s Kev used to be our American correspondent for the British CEAS (Clint Eastwood Appreciation Society). He remains a good and reliable friend who continuously comes up with some amazing pieces. 
Last night he succeeded in blowing me away with this incredible piece that appeared in The Oakland Tribune on the 23rd of July 1955. I consider myself quite lucky in that I have some nice early pieces on Eastwood, from his modelling days etc., but Kevin really blew me away with this cutting. It’s a fascinating piece of history. Also last night, my friend here in the UK, Kevin Wilkinson came up with another couple of very early studio shots that some of us in the Facebook group had never seen before. Whilst these two photos look stunning and in colour, I do wonder if they have perhaps been colourised? Colourising techniques have certainly come a long way in recent years, and can often leave one questioning if a particular photo perhaps started life in monochrome? However, that’s another argument. In the meantime, they match up with Kevin’s 1955 cutting rather perfectly. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they are both from around the same time period. Thanks guys                          

Thursday, 6 July 2017

On the Louisiana set of Clint Eastwood's 1971 original 'Beguiled'

I was contacted by an old friend and Eastwood fan today, James Elliott. James pointed me to this fascinating article on the original Beguiled movie from 1971. The story is by Mike Scott of the New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune. The piece is accompanied by some wonderful pictures that are ALL new to me. I’m constantly amazed by this sort of material and how it continues to surface.
Thank you James – it’s a wonderful article.

Sofia Coppola’s New Orleans-shot Civil War drama “The Beguiled” pulled down a respectable $3.3 million in its limited release on June 30, and it continues to win praise from critics. But it’s not the first time moviegoers have been beguiled by “The Beguiled.” In fact, Coppola’s adaptation isn’t even the first time the story has been filmed in Louisiana.

Back in 1971, actor Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel teamed up for a version of the film shot at
Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation near Baton Rouge. It would be one of five movies the two would make together. (Coogan’s Bluff in 1968, Two Mules for Sister Sara in 1970, Dirty Harry in 1971 and Escape from Alcatraz in 1979).

Both Siegel and Coppola’s films are built around the same story, about a group of women at an all-girls Southern boarding school who take in a wounded but charming Union soldier, but they’re decidedly different movies. That goes for the style in which they’re shot -- which in Siegel’s film is all jarringly canted camera angles and quick cuts, as opposed to the elegant polish of Coppola’s film -- but it also goes for each film’s very raison d’être.

For her part, Coppola describes her “Beguiled” as a study of the dynamics between the female characters -- who represent several age groups -- and how that dynamic changes with the introduction of a man. Siegel, on the other hand, has been quoted as saying his movie is about “the basic desire of women to castrate men."
Can’t get much different than that.
At any rate, with Coppola’s “The Beguiled” gaining notice -- including at May’s Cannes Film Festival, where the film earned her the award for best director -- we thought the time was right for a look back at the set of Siegel’s “Beguiled,” as seen through the lens of staff photographer V.A. Guidry.

The House
While Coppola’s more recent version of “The Beguiled” was shot largely at Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville, Siegel’s film set up at the Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation in Ascension Parish near Baton Rouge.
Ashland-Belle Helene was built in 1841 by planter Duncan Farrar Kenner, who is of the same family after which the Louisiana city of Kenner is named. Kenner named the house Ashland, borrowing the name of Henry Clay’s estate. It was changed by a later owner to Belle Helene to honor his own daughter.
The Greek Revival building, with its striking colonnades, has been featured in other films including A Band of Angels (1957), The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974), The Long, Hot Summer (1985) and Fletch Lives (1989), in which Chevy Chase's main character inherits the old house. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and was sold in 1992 to Shell Chemical Co., which has set about restoring it.

The women of The Beguiled.
Geraldine Page (right) and the other women of Siegel’s version of The Beguiled are photographed on the Ashland-Belle Helene grounds. In Coppola’s version, Oscar-winning actors Nicole Kidman played the role originated by Page. Also visible in the photo is Mae Mercer, the blues singer and actress who played Hallie, a slave character in Siegel’s film. Coppola drew criticism for her decision to exclude that character from her telling, which some characterised as whitewashing. For her part, though, Coppola said the decision was made out of respect to the plight of American slaves. “I didn’t want to have a slave character in ‘The Beguiled’ because that subject is a very important one, and I didn’t want to brush over it lightly,” she said.

A first for Clint Eastwood
Actor Clint Eastwood and 11-year-old Pamelyn Ferdin are photographed in April 1970 on the set of director Don Siegel's Civil War-era drama The Beguiled at Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation Home near Baton Rouge. While Siegel directed The Beguiled, Eastwood made his directorial debut on the same set, making a 12-minute documentary called "The Beguiled: The Storyteller." Later in 1970, Eastwood would take the reigns of his first feature film, Play Misty for Me, which, like The Beguiled, would arrive in theatres in 1971.

Take five
Crew members line up for lunch on the 1970 set of The Beguiled, a Civil War-set drama starring Clint Eastwood and which was shot at the Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation near Baton Rouge.












Geraldine Page and Don Siegel
The Beguiled' actress Geraldine Page (center), and others go over a scene with director Don Siegel, standing, during film of the Civil War-set drama in 1970 at Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation near Baton Rouge.










The Beguiled actress Geraldine Page goes over a scene with director Don Siegel (center left), and Dialogue Director Scott Hale (right), during production of the film in 1970 at Ashland-Belle
Helene Plantation near Baton Rouge.












Clint Eastwood and Pamelyn Ferdin 
Actor Clint Eastwood (left), stands by as dialogue director Scott Hale goes over lines with 11-year-old actor Pamelyn Ferdin in April 1970 during filming of director Don Siegel's Civil War-era drama The Beguiled at Belle Helene Plantation Home near Baton Rouge.




Below: Advertising flashback
An ad in The Times-Picayune for director Don Siegel's 1971 drama The Beguiled played up the film's Louisiana provenance. (The Times-Picayune archive)





By Mike Scott of The Times-Picayune, the New Orleans newspaper Posted July 05, 2017 Original article here 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Film critic Barry Norman dies aged 83

I was very sad to hear this morning of the passing of Film critic Barry Norman, he was 83. Norman, who died in his sleep on Friday night was a big admirer of Clint Eastwood and had interviewed him on numerous occasions. The critic who hosted the BBC "Film…" show between 1972 and 1998 was also a local resident here in Hertfordshire. Aside from his TV work, Norman also wrote for the Daily Mail and The Guardian newspapers. 
A statement from his daughters, Samantha and Emma, called him "remarkable", adding: "He had a great life, a wonderful marriage and an enviable career." His literary agent, Curtis Brown, described him as "the defining voice of film criticism and insightful interviewing of screen legends from both sides of the camera."
As a kid growing up, watching Barry Norman’s Film… programme was essential viewing. When he left the show it never really felt the same. He could (on occasions) have a cutting edge to him, even a hint of sarcasm, but he was certainly entertaining.

Thank you for the education, RIP Sir.

I thought I would take this opportunity to reproduce this story that he gave to The Guardian on Oct 2nd 2013 and tied in with his book, See You in the Morning published by Doubleday.
The film critic Barry Norman recalls a meeting with Clint Eastwood in Dallas in 1978.
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.
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. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Favourite Films - Clint Eastwood 1994

Favourite Films was a series of weekly programmes that was shown on BBC2. This particular episode was broadcast at 9.30pm on Friday November 11, 1994. The programme would feature a major star or director and had already included Martin Scorsese. Each week, the guest would talk us through their influences, and why they left such a lasting appeal.  Clint has often touched upon his favourites in several interviews, but here we have an entire programme dedicated to those choices. It is a rarely seen programme, so I would like to thank Dave Turner, David Vernall-Downes and Jonathan Downes for allowing us to host this here on the archive. It is certainly a fascinating watch. 
                   

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Sad Hill Unearthed – The New Full length Documentary Film

Sad Hill Unearthed is a full length documentary film about the amazing story behind one of the most important locations in film history.


In 1966 the Spanish Army built a huge cemetery with over 5000 graves at Mirandilla Valley in Burgos for the final sequence in the film "The Good the Bad and the Ugly". After the shooting, the whole place was left behind and for 49 years, nature covered every tomb.

In October 2015 a group of fans of the film ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ (Sergio Leone, 1966) visited the location of the film’s final sequence in Burgos (Spain). Abandoned for 49 years and covered with vegetation, these volunteers want to unearth and bring back to life the iconic Sad Hill Cemetery. 

News spread quickly and every weekend people from all over Europe started to visit the location to help in its reconstruction. Sad Hill Unearthed explores the fans dream and their motivations - how art, music and culture influences have developed into a transcendental search experience.    



There is something fascinating in the physical experience of touching something that should only exist in the big screen. I’ve spent many years visiting some of the most iconic locations in film history: the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Verzasca dam in Locarno or the Nakatomi Plaza tower (Fox Plaza in real life) in Los Angeles. During a few minutes you can become Rocky, James Bond or John McClane. And that “movie magic” that everyone talks about suddenly becomes real.

Sad Hill Unearthed started as an accident. On 7th November 2014 (Twitter has kept a record of the date). My friend Jorge Olmos listened in the radio news that a group of fans wanted to unearth Sad Hill cemetery, the location of the final scene of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” in Burgos (Spain). They called themselves Sad Hill Cultural Association and without hesitating for a second I looked for their website and I contacted them. A few weeks later I visited Covarrubias where David Alba welcomed me and took me to the location. Even though fog didn’t let us see anything more than 10 meters away from where we were standing, the place was pure magic. 
48 years after the shooting, each of the original tombs could still be recognised. At the centre and below three inches of vegetation David showed me the key proof: the original paved circle of the legendary Triello was still there. I was in love. During the next months I followed their steps through social media until the impossible was announced in September 2015: the Junta de Castilla y León (regional government) had given them permission to unearth and rebuild the cemetery. I grabbed my camera and went to Sad Hill on the spot. With the help of a drone I filmed the place before they started working. I didn’t know what would come out of it. Maybe there would be a good video for my YouTube channel or perhaps a short documentary in the best case. Somehow I felt there was a unique story behind the crazy dream of this group of fans. What I couldn’t imagine was that the dream would actually become true. 
UNEARTHED INTERVIEWS by Luisa Cowell
Probably the turning point was contacting Sir Christopher Frayling, Sergio Leone’s biographer. We had barely started recording the reconstruction process when he accepted to see us in London and that interview changed everything. He showed us that behind our exciting story about today’s recovery there was an even more exciting story: the one of those who shot the most famous western in film history in Burgos back in 1966. From that moment onwards, the project started to grow bigger and bigger. The news of the reconstruction works reached media all over Europe and in a few weeks the cemetery was crowded with people with their hoes and shovels. It was an unprecedented event and we started wondering what could be behind such a drive. We looked for other testimonies from fans of Leone’s cinema. People like Spanish film director Álex de la Iglesia (800 balas), Joe Dante (Gremlins) or Metallica’s lead vocalist, James Hetfield. Time has gone by thus, we couldn’t interview many of those who participated in the shooting but it was a pleasure to speak to Ennio Morricone, composer of the original sound track, Eugenio Alabiso, editor of the film, Sergio Salvati, camera assistant or Carlo Leva, assistant to  Carlo Simi in the design of the Sad Hill cemetery. However, the cherry on the cake was Clint Eastwood’s testimony.  We had to chase him tirelessly for 10 months of calls, emails and faxes, until he finally heard about our story and he immediately accepted our proposal.
For more information, and how to become part of the Sad Hill Unearthed experience click HERE

Below: Sad Hill Unearthed Trailer