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. 
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

Saturday 24 June 2017

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot at BAM Cinématek

Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges’s Modern Western “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” is a proto-bromance that becomes a crime story halfway through. 
By Richard Brody, The New Yorker

In  1973, Clint Eastwood, who was already a major star, produced and acted in Michael Cimino’s first film as a director, “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.” It offered more than a fine role for Eastwood; it was one of the great directorial débuts of the New Hollywood era. “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” plays July 2 at BAM Cinématek in a series of heist movies co-programmed by Edgar Wright (June 27-July 23), who directed a new entry in the genre, “Baby Driver,” opening this week. Cimino’s film is a heist movie with a difference: it withholds the crime story until midway through the film. Before that, it’s a rough-and-tumble, back-road Northwest adventure that’s also a buddy comedy, even a proto-bromance.
The movie, which Cimino also wrote, is loosely based on, and named after, two infamous early-nineteenth-century Irish bandits. Eastwood plays John (Thunderbolt) Doherty, an Idaho country preacher who’s actually a bank robber in hiding. Jeff Bridges, who was twenty-four at the time, plays Lightfoot, a fast-talking, freewheeling, fun-loving drifter and grifter. The two men meet cute when Thunderbolt’s sermon is interrupted by a gunman and he dashes from his crowded church. Lightfoot, speeding on a country road in a stolen muscle car, picks up the fleeing Thunderbolt and outdrives the gunman for kicks—and experiences a sort of fraternal love at first sight for his terse, coolly confident and worldly-wise older passenger.
Ditching another stolen car, Lightfoot leads Thunderbolt into Hell’s Canyon, on the Snake River, where, the young man says, “Up here, people’s business is nobody’s but their own.” But trouble ensues when Thunderbolt’s former partners in crime turn up—the resentful and brutal Red (George Kennedy) and Goody (Geoffrey Lewis), whose benighted lumpishness contrasts dismally with Thunderbolt’s bladelike precision and Lightfoot’s carefree, sexually uninhibited insolence. After a near-deadly tangle, they put their differences aside to undertake a new robbery—of an armored-truck depot—in a small Montana town. Accumulating know-how and equipment (including an anti-tank cannon), the four men live in a simulacrum of domesticity that seethes with ambient violence and erotic tension. As Thunderbolt details to Lightfoot the obstacles they face—“microphones, electric eyes, pressure-sensitive mats, vibration detectors, tear gas, and even thermostats”—Lightfoot beams at him blissfully.
Cimino blends the split-second criminal plot with wild humor. Lightfoot gets called out on his macho posturing by a woman with a hammer (no one gets hurt), but Cimino also takes deadly seriously the sort of beat-downs that are usually played for laughs. The action, however, is inseparable from Cimino’s distinctive view of the untamed landscapes. The film’s images are filled with a pointillistic profusion of detail—wheat stalks at the roadside, a modern bridge’s metallic latticework, even the duo’s jazzily patterned shirts—that’s as alluring as it is nerve-jangling. Cimino’s wide-open West is a wonder and a snare, blending freedom and cruelty, innocence and ignorance; its expanses seem blood-soaked and death-haunted. With its mix of spectacle and intimacy, exuberance and tragedy, “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” points ahead to the radical extremes of Cimino’s 1980 masterwork, “Heaven’s Gate.”

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Happy birthday to the great Lalo Schifrin

I feel it’s only right to celebrate Lalo’s birthday here today. Schifrin has played such an integral part in the success of Clint’s career, scoring the soundtracks to films including Coogan’s Bluff, The Beguiled, Kelly’s Heroes, Dirty Harry, Joe Kidd, Magnum Force, Sudden Impact and The Dead Pool.
I find it a little hard to believe that it was back in late 2005 that the legendary Renaissance man granted me an exclusive interview for Cinema Retro Magazine. I had built up a nice relationship with his company Aleph Records alongside his charming wife Donna, and his daughter-in-law Theresa.
It is a friendship that still endures to this day. I really didn’t know what to expect upon interviewing this extraordinary composer? On the one hand, I had to wear my ‘professional’ hat – but of course, I was (and remain) a genuine ‘fan’. Will I get 20 minutes? Perhaps I could push it to 30 minutes of good, informative chat? No, Lalo was far too charming and generous for that, he opened up about the whole Exorcist story, some great personal memories, his childhood and after some engrossing 80 minutes of conversation the interview found its own very natural conclusion… officially. Beyond that we probably chatted ‘off the record’ for a further 5-10 minutes. From my perspective, Lalo had switched from hero to friend – a certain trust seemed to emerge and I love the man dearly for that. During those final few minutes he delivered to me perhaps the ultimate compliment ‘You know more about me than I do!’  Well Lalo, I’ll settle for that any day of the week, Sir…
On behalf of all the fans, I’d like to wish you a wonderful 85th Birthday along with continued Health and Happiness.

-The Clint Eastwood Archive-

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Clint: Clapperboard Specials from 1980

I’m very happy to present these two extremely rare reports that appeared on the UK TV programme Clapperboard in 1980. The first of these reports is on Bronco Billy and catches Clint while on his trip in Deauville, France. The imdb lists this particular episode with a TX date of October 6th 1980. 

The second report is listed as ‘Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke’ with a TX date of December 18th 1980 which was just 2 weeks before the UK release date of Any which way you can on January 1st 1981. 

My sincere thanks go to Dave Turner for providing the original VHS source tapes and to our friends David Vernall-Downes and Jonathan Downes. David has done a wonderful job and digitised these old tapes. We are entirely appreciative. His brother Jonathan has also kindly provided us with web space in order to continuously host these important videos.
Below: Clapperboard - Deauville - Bronco Billy
 Below: Clapperboard - Any which way you can

Thursday 8 June 2017

Clint and the 1000th screen kill!

This is a story that goes way back. It’s something that has always amused me and perhaps rather stupidly, often gets my mind thinking. It was no doubt rather a clever publicity stunt, and one that has certainly endured a degree of longevity.

The story appeared in the November 1970 issue of Film Review magazine, an edition which also carried a great cover shot featuring Clint. The article was entitled ‘Bang, Bang! Clint’s 1000th Kill’. The piece recognised that since Clint shot to fame as the man with no name in A Fistful of Dollars he has pretty much brandished a firearm in every subsequent movie and ‘mowed down’ countless enemies left, right and centre. According to the article, countless isn’t quite true. According to ‘the people whose job it is to attend to such matters’ (which is about as accurate as a newspapers ‘close source’) have actually counted the characters that have stopped Eastwood bullets. The story goes on to explain that in Clint’s latest film Kelly’s Heroes, the score enters the four-figure category. It continued:

‘On learning that the gunning down of a German officer was to be his 1000th screen killing, Clint secretly pocketed a 50-calibre machine gun bullet on his way to the set. After the slaying had taken place and the director had called “cut”, the victim (English stuntman Joe Dunne) found himself being helped to his feet by his ‘assassin’ and presented with the ‘Golden Bullet Award to the 1000th Man to stand in Clint Eastwood’s Way!’’
According to whichever 'in house' writer or MGM publicist wrote this piece - explained that ‘his tally of 1000 killings seemed to be well advanced by Where Eagles Dare in which he appeared to mow down and entire German force in helping to rescue an American general from a mountain fortress'
‘I just stood around trying to figure out the espionage tricks or operating my machine gun while Burton handled the dialogue.’ says Clint.

Now, I’m not perhaps the world’s greatest living mathematician, but 1000? Of course we live in a world today which allows us instant access to a movie, home cinema and the like, allows us to scrutinise over and over. Not that I’m ever going to sit down and meticulously count every one of Clint’s screen victims between 1964 and 1970. But one can see how easy it was to perhaps ‘sell’ this one to the public, especially without any retrospective means of looking at them all back and doing the math.

It was certainly something that MGM enthusiastically promoted. The scene in question turned up as a publicity shot and was actually used as one of the film’s Lobby cards. There were also several press stills released depicting the scene with the legend on reverse actually featuring the story. Photo information states:

‘Clint Eastwood presents “The Golden Bullet” award to his Thousandth victim’ according to the information this was shot in Yugoslavia, October 1969. It’s also worth noting that at this stage in production (and on the photos) the film was still referred to as The Warriors. (Right)
However, one might arguably question the validity of this picture at all? Where is it in the film? I’ve always believed this to be a staged publicity photo – Clint going into battle, without wearing a helmet? It just doesn’t add up to me? And I do wonder if the 1000th victim scenario was conjured up around this photo shoot – perhaps by a somewhat overzealous team of guys from within the MGM publicity department? I never did see any publicity photos of Clint handing over that anniversary bullet after all? (See Bottom) If it was such a big deal, why weren’t there any photos taken, the presenting of the bullet?
Nevertheless, it remains one of those great little stories or myths as it were, that remind us all of a much more innocent and fun time that revolved around the whole publicity and promotion of a movie and days that are sorely missed.   
Below: The colour lobby card depicting the scene and the '1000th victim' 
  Below: Joe Dunne, the stuntman / actor who played the '1000th' victim in the German uniform  
*In 2022 and shortly after Joe's passing, that great photo evidence of Clint handing Joe the bullet finally surfaced and can now be seen (HERE)

Tuesday 6 June 2017

CLINT EASTWOOD Get Yourself another Fool LONDON LED247 Rare Japanese 7"

Now here’s a rather nice little rarity. Once upon a time, there was this young actor who starred in a TV series called Rawhide – which turned out to be rather successful. During this time, that same actor also cut an album, and a few singles which tied in nicely with that TV series. Thankfully, I have an original copy of that Cameo LP. Since then the album has made its way onto CD in various different formats and is quite easily affordable. These CDs are also excellent in terms of sound quality. 
However, some things are simply not that affordable, including this very nice and extremely rare 1962 7” single that was only released in Japan. I spotted this gem on eBay recently. It contains the tracks ‘Get Yourself another Fool’ and ‘For you, for me, for evermore’ and comes with a wonderful picture sleeve/insert. Japanese single inserts typically contain the lyrics on the reverse side.
So what else makes this very special? Unless this insert came printed with a personally signed dedication (which I very much doubt) it appears to be signed by Clint. The dedication looks to read – ‘Dear Brenda This is my first record in Japan I hope you like it Clint Eastwood Rowdy’. Now I’m no expert, but my initial thoughts lead me to believe that it looks pretty convincing. The signature is of the correct style for this time period. BUT, please don’t take that as gospel, I’m certainly not saying it IS genuine. I’m simply saying it looks remarkably convincing.
So, how much would this set you back? Well, it currently has a buy now price on it at $1,200 or £927.89 (if that lessens the pain to some degree). Oh and there is postage to be added to that. I just thought it was worthy of featuring here. I certainly have never seen it before, and I doubt if I will ever see many again. Should you fancy adding a little piece of 7” vinyl to your collection..? Unfortunately, I’m sad to report, it will remain absent from mine.