Thursday 20 June 2024

Donald Sutherland, Star of Kelly’s Heroes, Klute and Space Cowboys Dies at 88

Donald Sutherland, Star of Kelly’s Heroes, MASH, Klute and Space Cowboys Dies at 88
I was very saddened to receive news this afternoon that the legendary actor Donald Sutherland had died aged 88. Sutherland was always an incredibly popular actor among Eastwood fans. Rick Schultz of Variety wrote:
Donald Sutherland, the tall, lean and long-faced Canadian actor who became a countercultural icon with such films as “The Dirty Dozen,” “MASH,” “Klute” and “Don’t Look Now,” and who subsequently enjoyed a prolific and wide-ranging career in films including “Ordinary People,” “Without Limits” and the “Hunger Games” films, died Thursday in Miami after a long illness, CAA confirmed. He was 88.
For over a half century, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor memorably played villains, antiheroes, romantic leads and mentor figures. His profile increased in the past decade with his supporting role as the evil President Snow in “The Hunger Games” franchise.
Most recently, he appeared as Judge Parker on the series “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” and in the “Swimming with Sharks” series in 2022. His other recent recurring roles include the series “Undoing” and “Trust,” in which he played J. Paul Getty, and features “Ad Astra” and “The Burnt-Orange Heresy.”
Sutherland won a supporting actor Emmy for HBO’s “Citizen X” in 1995 and was also nominated in 2006 for the Lifetime miniseries “Human Trafficking.”
After what Sutherland called “a meandering little career,” including roles in low-budget horror pics like 1963’s “Castle of the Living Dead” and 1965’s “Die! Die! My Darling!,” he landed a part as one of the bottom six in 1967’s “The Dirty Dozen.”
Sutherland told the Guardian in 2005 that he originally had one line in the film, until Clint Walker refused to play a scene requiring him to impersonate a general. According to Sutherland, director Robert Aldrich, who didn’t know his name, suddenly turned to him and said, “You! With the big ears! You do it!”
The smart-alecky role was a perfect fit for Sutherland, whose wolfish sideways smile and boyish charm caught the attention of producer Ingo Preminger, who cast him as the anti-authoritarian surgeon Capt. “Hawkeye” Pierce in 1970’s comedy smash hit “MASH.”
“MASH” turned Sutherland, and co-star Elliott Gould, who played Capt. “Trapper” John, into major stars. But the tradition-bound actors had trouble adjusting to director Robert Altman’s improvisational and often chaotic approach. According to Sutherland, Altman tried to fire him during the shoot, but Preminger held firm.
In a 1976 Playboy interview, Altman gave a different view, recalling that Sutherland loved his directorial style. “His improvisation was profound,” Altman said. “He’s a hell of an actor.”
Sutherland also co-starred with Gould in 1971’s inspired Alan Arkin-helmed black comedy “Little Murders” and again in director Irvin Kershner’s 1974 misfire “SPYS.”
In the 1970 WWII actioner “Kelly’s Heroes,” Sutherland joined Clint Eastwood, portraying Sgt. Oddball, an absurdly conceived but scene-stealing proto-hippie tank commander. (Sutherland reteamed with Eastwood in 2000’s “Space Cowboys,” this time playing a former hotshot pilot.)
With 1971’s “Klute,” a thriller/character study directed by Alan J. Pakula and co-starring Jane Fonda, Sutherland emerged as a credible romantic leading man. He portrayed a troubled detective who falls in love with a call girl (Fonda) whom he’s protecting from a sadistic killer.
Fonda later gave Sutherland credit for her Oscar-winning best actress performance, because of “all the intense feelings I was experiencing” with him.
The two were having a love affair at the time, and the relationship stoked Sutherland’s antiwar politics. He got involved with Vietnam Veterans Against the War and, along with Peter Boyle and Howard Hesseman, Fonda and Sutherland put together a traveling revue called FTA (Free the Army, popularly known as F**k the Army). The Pentagon unsuccessfully tried to keep troops away from the shows; the FBI put both Sutherland and Fonda under surveillance.
In Nicholas Roeg’s influential 1973 psychological horror film “Don’t Look Now,” Sutherland’s intriguing passivity and pared-down acting style helped highlight Julie Christie’s performance. They portray a grieving married couple who flee England to Venice after the death of their little girl.
The film became controversial for an integral explicit sex scene between them, edited in a fragmented style. Roeg intercut their post-coital dressing to go out to dinner as the sequence unfolds. Even in a sex-obsessed era, the scene became — and remains — one of the most memorable ever filmed.
At the height of his success, Sutherland began to make eccentric career choices. 

He turned down John Boorman for “Deliverance” and chose Paul Mazursky’s “Alex in Wonderland” (1970) over Peckinpah’s “Straw Dogs.” He acted with Fonda again in “Steelyard Blues” (1973) and played Christ in Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun” (1971). Both fizzled at the box office.
Sutherland received mixed notices for his role as a hick in John Schlesinger’s “Day of the Locust” (1975), played the title character in 1976’s arty bomb “Fellini’s Casanova” and a psychopathic fascist in Bertolucci’s “1900” (1977). He had a memorable cameo in 1978 hit “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” playing a professor who is discovered having an affair with a student (Karen Allen). He took a small upfront fee for his work instead of an offered percentage of the profits. The actor estimated the choice cost him $14 million.
Sutherland rebounded with 1980’s “Ordinary People,” convincing director Robert Redford to cast him as the grieving father trying to hold his family together after his older son’s accidental death. Redford had originally offered him the part of the psychiatrist that eventually went to Judd Hirsch.
In 1981 WWII thriller “Eye of the Needle,” Sutherland gave one of his last romantic leading man performances on the big screen, albeit as a heavy — a stranded German agent who falls for a lonely married woman (Kate Nelligan).
Another career peak came in 1998, when Sutherland convinced director-writer Robert Towne to cast him as coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman in “Without Limits,” about U. of Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup). He was also memorable in 2005’s “Pride and Prejudice” as Keira Knightley’s father.
Sutherland made a lasting impression in smaller roles, such as Mister X, a high-placed Pentagon official who claims to know why JFK was murdered, in 1991’s Oliver Stone-helmed “JFK.”
Remarkably, Sutherland was never nominated for an Oscar, though his work in such films as “Ordinary People” and “Without Limits” is often cited by critics as among the finest of their respective decades.
Other noteworthy roles include President Snow in “The Hunger Games” (2012) and its sequels; a safecracker in “The Italian Job” (2003); the father in “Six Degrees of Separation” (1993); a stylish safecracker in “The Great Train Robbery” (1978); and the lead in Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
Sutherland also appeared with son Kiefer in 1996’s “A Time to Kill.” He turned down an offer to play the father of Kiefer’s character, Jack Bauer, in “24,” his son’s successful TV series. The two appeared together in the 2014 Western “Forsaken.”
In 2014 the actor also starred with Brie Larson in the India-set musical comedy “Basmati Blues,” written and directed by Dan Baron.
Sutherland’s TV work includes “The Superlative Seven” episode of “The Avengers” (1967) and two episodes of “The Saint” (1965, 1966). He starred as Patrick “Tripp” Darling III in “Dirty Sexy Money” (2007-09) and as Nathan Templeton in “Commander in Chief” (2005-06). His TV miniseries work includes 2010’s “The Pillars of the Earth,” based on Ken Follett’s epic novel.
In one of his best TV roles, Sutherland portrayed Clark Clifford in John Frankenheimer’s “Path to War” (2002). In 1995, he won a supporting actor Emmy for “Citizen X” (HBO).
Born in Saint John, Canada, he studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before getting roles in British TV shows and films such as “The Avengers” and “The Saint.” “The Saint” star and director Roger Moore recommended him to the producers of “The Dirty Dozen,” and after the success of that film he moved to Hollywood.
Sutherland is survived by his wife Francine Racette, sons Roeg, Rossif, Angus, and Kiefer, daughter Rachel, and four grandchildren.
Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to his friends and family, RIP Sir

Friday 7 June 2024

Clint’s arrival on UK Home Video Cassette

Clint’s arrival on UK Home Video Cassette
Back in August, 2017, I posted a little piece about Clint’s first arrival on Home Video here in the UK. With some recently discovered photos, I decided to dig a little deeper and update this original post. 

I originally based this simply on a rather old VHS slipcase from the InterVision video release of The Good, the bad and the Ugly (front and spines only). I’ve had this in my collection for quite some time, and in 2017 digitally restored it purely for reasons of nostalgia. We generally agreed that this originally came from late 1980.

InterVision was one of the earliest VHS labels in the UK. Managed by Mike Tenner and Richard Cooper, the company distributed major film releases (namely those from United Artists) as well as horror films through Alpha Video. The company eventually folded following the rise of major VHS distributors in the UK, but not before they released The Good, the bad and the ugly (UA A B5010). 

I remember the campaign quite well, and the whole TV campaign that ran on UK television. I remember a number of clips contained in that advert alongside The Good, the bad and the ugly, such as Network, Carrie, Lenny, Annie Hall and Rollerball – all of course from the United Artist catalogue of film titles.
The packaging came in the shape of a cardboard slip case and the film was naturally a panned and scanned version, which was something of a travesty when it came to Sergio Leone's beautifully crafted widescreen vision. I could never recall if these titles could be bought at the time? 

The sleeve always seemed to have ‘rental only’ which probably explains why there are very few of them floating around to purchase. Perhaps some were sold off as ex-rentals once they were worn down to the bone? However, it did prompt me to go and dig out the wonderful cover (front and spines) which I have in my collection. One of the spines is a little worse for wear; remember these were made of card (and it is some 44 years old now). But I did a quick digital restoration on it before presenting it here. It is near impossible to find a good image or a scan of the packaging anywhere on the internet, so I wanted to change that. I suppose it represents a little piece of history in some respects. It was Clint’s first film ever to be available on the new format and could be watched at any given time. It certainly would shape things in respect of how we would come to view movies and arguably signified something of a revolution.

Just lately, I came in contact with someone who actually has a couple of these old tapes in his collection – and as a result discovered a few more things. It was nice to actually have some pictures of the labels on the video cassette – 2 different in fact. Firstly, there is the more common yellow version but also a much rarer pinkish version of the labels. We are also lucky enough to now have an image of the reverse of the slip case. As well as the brief story outline, it also confirms all 20 titles in InterVision’s initial launch selection. 
I looked a little deeper into the mainstream film magazines of 1980, such as Photoplay, and it was around November and December that the word ‘Video’ started to become more regularly featured in the publication, devoting a full 4 pages to the revolutionary new format! The December 1980 issue of Photoplay provided a couple of paragraphs on InterVision’s new rental releases along with a hint of a couple of reviews promised for the January 1981 issue.  

Photoplay kept to their word and the following piece on InterVision’s rental of The Good, the bad and the ugly appeared in their new year January 1981 issue – confirming that the initial UK launch was probably aimed for the Christmas market of 1980.  

Saturday 1 June 2024

Albert S. Ruddy, Producer Who Won Oscar for The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby Dies at 94

Albert S. Ruddy, Producer Who Won Oscar for The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby Dies at 94

Richard Sandomir of The New York Times reported: Albert S. Ruddy, who found early success in television as a creator of “Hogan’s Heroes,” the situation comedy about Allied prisoners outwitting their bumbling Nazi captors in a P.O.W. camp, and then became a movie producer who won Oscars for “The Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby,” died on Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 94.
His death, in a hospital, was confirmed by his wife, Wanda McDaniel, and his daughter, Alexandra Ruddy.
The gravelly-voiced Mr. Ruddy was a former systems programmer and shoe salesman who, by the time Paramount Pictures was preparing to film “The Godfather,” had become known for the unlikely success of “Hogan’s Heroes” and for producing a couple of movies that had come in under budget.
“Ruddy is a tall, thin, nervously enthusiastic man who sees himself as a shrewd manipulator,” Nicholas Pileggi wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 1971 about the making of “The Godfather,” an adaptation of the best-selling Mario Puzo novel about the Corleone crime family. “Ruddy had always been able to talk his way through obstacles.”

Among the many hurdles he faced as producer of “The Godfather” was the animosity toward the prospective film shown by Italian Americans, civic-minded ethnic groups like the Sons of Italy and members of Congress, who thought the movie would perpetuate gangster stereotypes. Paramount feared economic boycotts.
The person who concerned Mr. Ruddy most was Joseph Colombo Sr., the reputed Mafia crime boss who had founded the Italian American Civil Rights League. Mr. Colombo had persuaded the F.B.I. to stop using the terms Mafia and Cosa Nostra in its news releases.
Mr. Ruddy hoped that dealing with the league would be a guarantee against any trouble during production, as it turned out to be. He agreed to scrub offending Italian words from the script, to let the league review the script for anything else that might damage Italian Americans’ image, and to donate the proceeds from the movie’s New York premiere to the league.
Mr. Ruddy appeared at a news conference at the league’s office in Manhattan to announce the deal. But he didn’t anticipate the backlash from its coverage in the news media.
“The next morning, there’s a shot of me on the front page of The New York Times with organized crime figures at a press conference,” he was quoted as saying in a Vanity Fair article in 2009 by Mark Seal, who expanded it into a 2021 book, “Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli: The Epic Story of the Making of ‘The Godfather.’”

The presence of Mr. Ruddy at the news conference so enraged Charles Bluhdorn, the combustible chairman of Gulf & Western, Paramount’s parent, that he fired him. But when Mr. Bluhdorn told Francis Ford Coppola, the director, and Robert Evans, the studio’s vice president of production, to find another producer, Mr. Coppola intervened.
“Al Ruddy’s the only guy who can keep this movie going!” he told Mr. Bluhdorn.
“The Godfather” won three Oscars, including Mr. Ruddy’s for best picture; Marlon Brando’s for best actor, for his portrayal of Don Vito Corleone; and Mr. Coppola and Mr. Puzo’s, for best adapted screenplay. It has been widely praised as one of the best movies ever made.

Its first sequel, “The Godfather Part II” (1974), also won the Oscar for best picture, but “The Godfather Part III” (1990) was widely skewered. Mr. Ruddy had nothing to do with the sequels. Fred Roos (who died on May 18) was a producer of both, as he was of other films by Mr. Coppola, his daughter, Sofia Coppola, and his wife, Eleanor Coppola (who died last month).
Mr. Ruddy was born Albert Stotland on March 28, 1930, in Montreal. His father, Hyman, manufactured uniforms. His mother, Ruth (Rudnikoff) Stotland, was a clothing and luxury fur designer. After his parents divorced when Albert was 6, his mother moved to New York City with him, his sister, Selma, and his brother, Gerald, and changed the family surname to Ruddy.
After studying at the City College of New York, Albert attended the University of Southern California and graduated with an architecture degree in 1956. He was briefly the architect for a construction company in New Jersey but chose to go back to the West Coast. There he was a programmer for the RAND Corporation, a shoe salesman and the producer of the 1961 Los Angeles production of“The Connection,” a play about drug addiction, and of the movie “Wild Seed” (1965), about a teenage runaway searching for her biological father.

That year, he and the actor and writer Bernard Fein wrote the pilot episode of “Hogan’s Heroes.” The setting, a prisoner of war camp run by stupid Nazis, seemed tasteless to American viewers 20 years post-World War II. He later recalled that when he sat down to pitch it to William S. Paley, the chairman of CBS, Mr. Paley offered his verdict: “I find the idea of Nazis as comic characters to be reprehensible.”
But as Mr. Ruddy acted out his script, Mr. Paley began to laugh. Two weeks later he agreed to buy the series, which ran for six seasons, through 1971.
Mr. Ruddy went on to produce the movie “Little Fauss and Big Halsy” (1970), about dirt-bike racers played by Robert Redford and Michael Jay Pollard, and “Thunderguys,” a TV movie, both for Paramount. Those movies helped lead to his being hired for “The Godfather.”
He produced many other films, including “Farewell to the King,” with Nick Nolte; “The Cannonball Run,” with Burt Reynolds and Farrah Fawcett, and its sequel; and “The Scout,” with Albert Brooks. He also produced TV series, among them “Walker, Texas Ranger,” which he created.
But Ms. McDaniel, his wife, said that he had been proudest of conceiving “The Longest Yard,” a 1974 film about a nasty prison warden (Eddie Albert) who coerces an incarcerated ex-pro quarterback (Burt Reynolds) to put together a football team to play against a squad of sadistic guards.
“He knew that ‘The Godfather’ was really Francis’s movie,” Ms. Ruddy, his daughter, said of Mr. Coppola in a phone interview. “And he felt this was really Al’s movie.”
Tracy Keenan Wynn, who wrote the screenplay based on Mr. Ruddy’s two-page story, said by phone, “I worked with Al the whole time, telling him which of his characters I was going to use and which I wanted to add.”

Decades later, Mr. Ruddy gave introduced Clint Eastwood to the evocative boxing short stories written by F.X. Toole. Mr. Eastwood went on to direct “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), based on stories by Mr. Toole. The movie, about the moving relationship between a boxer (Hilary Swank) and her trainer (Mr. Eastwood), won four Oscars, including best picture, which Mr. Ruddy shared with Mr. Eastwood and Tom Rosenberg (below).

In addition to his wife, an executive vice president at Giorgio Armani, and his daughter, an actress, producer and writer and a partner at Albert S. Ruddy Productions, Mr. Ruddy is survived by a son, John. His marriages to Kaye Farrington, an actress, and Francoise Wizenberg Glaser ended in divorce.
In 2022, Mr. Ruddy’s memories of making the “The Godfather” formed the story of “The Offer,” a 10-part series streamed by Paramount+. Mr. Ruddy was played by Miles Teller.
One scene in that series takes place in Chasen’s, the West Hollywood celebrity restaurant, where Mr. Ruddy and Mr. Puzo had dinner one night. Mr. Puzo was introduced to Frank Sinatra, who hated Mr. Puzo’s novel, especially the character of the singer Johnny Fontane.
Fontane was believed to have been modelled on Mr. Sinatra, who did not want to see the film made. Mr. Seal described Mr. Sinatra screaming at Mr. Puzo, calling him a pimp and telling him, “Choke!” The series shows Mr. Sinatra (played by Frank John Hughes) grabbing Mr. Puzo (Patrick Gallo) by his jacket collar.

As Mr. Ruddy drove Mr. Puzo home, Mr. Seal wrote, the novelist said that he was heartbroken by Mr. Sinatra’s treatment of him. Growing up, he said, his mother had two pictures in her kitchen: one of the pope and one of Mr. Sinatra.
“Mario, there’s nothing I can do about that,” Mr. Ruddy said. “Frank has it in for all of us.”
My kind thanks to Kevin Walsh

Photo Opportunity #50

Photo Opportunity #50

Our June Photo Opportunity features a great shot from Where Eagles Dare that I had never seen before. It was sent to me last month, so decided to hold it back for our first-of-the-month Photo Opp. 

The shot features both Clint and Richard Burton, taken on location during the shooting of the film. As well as featuring it here I will also be adding this to our Where Eagles Dare 10x8 b/w Photo Gallery (here) which currently stands at 163 superb stills.

Friday 31 May 2024

Happy 94th Birthday

Happy 94th Birthday
Well, May 31st of course signifies Clint’s 94th Birthday, so I’m just posting this brief Birthday wish on behalf of all fans and the people here on the Archive.
To be honest – I feel a little despondent this time around. With a new film on the horizon, the lack of production news, no teaser artwork, a total lack of advance publicity in fact – seems to me – a little bleak to say the least. 
I think back and recall how a new Eastwood film would be something to really rejoice about, an event that carried with it a genuine sense of excitement. Yet, today, it feels pretty poor in comparison and I’m finding it increasingly harder to get excited – but not through the want of trying. 
I could post something here along the lines of ‘a compilation of highlights’ or Clint’s ‘greatest achievements’, the usual rehash, but to be honest it’s nothing that can’t be found on a hundred other sites, who just seem to sparkle into life when Clint turns another year older  - but I’ve tried to deliver a bit more than that month after month, year after year, I guess the publicity and general exposure surrounding a new, upcoming film is simply regarded as unimportant today, certainly in comparison of how it use to be.
So, with no new news of Juror #2, no advance artwork or poster, nothing on the release date, and zero in regards to marketing in general – I’ll simply leave it at Happy Birthday. 
Times have certainly changed…. 

Tuesday 21 May 2024

A Night at the theatre July 1960

A Night at the theatre July 1960
It’s strange how a single photo can sometimes open up an entire story which may have otherwise been completely lost to time. 

We recently discovered a couple of rare slides on the internet, a couple of which had been written and dated on the card mounts – a smart move on the photographer’s part as it does help to secure a sense of accuracy – and in turn often lead to certain other pieces that also tie-in to an event. 

We usually refer to this as ‘detective work’. Sometimes, these events simply get overlooked and forgotten and as a result often get missed from any number of books and biographies. In a lot of instances, it just requires an extra level of research and ‘joining the dots’ to form a picture. A lot of facts, times and places are often overlooked – simply because the information has become lost. On the Archive we like to try and gather the facts in order to try and complete and present a picture.  

In this example, these couple of slides – dated July 1960, revealed quite a bit – one slide actually had a title penned in ‘Duel of Angels’ – which also became a huge help. In 1960 the Giraudoux play Duel of Angels was playing at the Helen Hayes theatre and as part of the East coast leg of the U.S. tour. It’s hard to determine exactly which theatre Clint and his wife Maggie attended to see the play. Personally, I think it was more likely taken at the Huntington Hartford Theatre in Los Angeles where the play opened on July 12, 1960. By July 1960, Clint was becoming well established  as a TV star, Rawhide had just finished airing Season 2 of the show and continued to gain high ratings. 

In addition to these two very rare colour transparencies, I’ve also had a couple of pictures on file which I also believe are from the same event. The only information attributed to these bw photos are that they were taken circa 1960. But looking at these photos carefully I believe reveals some clues. On the first slide – to the left of Clint, it looks as if there is a small section of Maggie’s top which is clearly seen in the bw pictures. Also, Clint is wearing what appears to be the same style of shirt with the button-down collar. 

Duel of Angels was one of Vivien Leigh’s most successful theatre performances and one that she would recreate many times in many different venues. The Los Angeles performances ran for four weeks that summer. Leigh was visited backstage by many friends including actor Stewart Granger and George Cukor, who had directed her through part of Gone With the Wind.

Another strange ‘Clint connection’ - Duel of Angels opened on 24th April 1958 at the Apollo Theatre in London, a production directed by Jean-Louis Barrault, and starring Vivien Leigh, Claire Bloom, Derek Nimmo and Peter Wyngarde. For the American tour, Leigh again played the role of Paola in the production directed by Robert Helpmann. The U.S. tour also featured Peter Wyngarde, Jack Merivale and a young actress, Mary Ure! Yes, the very same Mary Ure who would later star alongside Clint in Where Eagles Dare! 
We do like connectivity… 

Friday 17 May 2024

Clint & Maggie: Breakfast at Tiffany’s Premiere

Clint & Maggie: Breakfast at Tiffany’s Premiere
Dateline: 17th October 1961, West Coast premiere of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Both Clint and his wife Maggie attended the evening event which was held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The star Gala was an invitational event only and held shortly before the film went on general release. 

By 1961, Clint had become well established to TV viewers. Rawhide had just begun its fourth season and the episode The Long Shakedown had just been broadcast a few days earlier. 

There are very few photos from this event, which seems rather strange – most photos cover either the Rome, New York or London premieres. Thankfully, among the few that have emerged are these couple of great shots of Clint and his wife Maggie arriving at the event. I can’t believe there isn’t any newsreel footage locked away somewhere. These events were always a big affair and local news reporters would often cover these glitzy gatherings. In fact, one of the images appears to show Clint and Maggie being interviewed on their arrival. Crowds would often turn out in the hope of catching a glimpse of their favourite stars of the day.
Below: A packed Hollywood Boulevard welcomes special guests for the Gala premiere