Wednesday 28 March 2018

Rare Eastwood pin-ups 1960s style

I was browsing the internet yesterday and by accident spotted these 2 full page magazine pin-ups. I thought I would post them here as I am not familiar with either of the photos. Looking at Eastwood in these shots I would probably date them as mid to late 60s. 

Wednesday 21 March 2018

The Man Who Loves Women, October 25th, 2010

Clint Eastwood has for decades embodied red-blooded, red-state American manhood, but under that persona evolved a soulful, deeply humane perspective on the sexes that has blossomed into a late, great filmmaking adventure. I recently discovered this piece whilst I was researching for a class presentation on equality and diversity within Eastwood’s films. It’s a piece by Karen Durbin for ELLE that was originally published on October 25th, 2010. I thought I’d reproduce it here as I found it to be a very enjoyable read. I’ve also enhanced it with some photos relevant to the story.

Channel surfing one lazy afternoon in the '90s, I was stopped in my tracks at the sight of Clint Eastwood on the hot seat in John McLaughlin's One on One interview show. McLaughlin is best known as the irascible, right-leaning host of The McLaughlin Group, a weekly Washington, DC, journalists' free-for-all. That day, thrilled to have such a spectacular guest all to himself, McLaughlin was pitching softballs. But as in the fable of the scorpion and the frog, his true nature suddenly erupted, and, ­fixing Eastwood with a suspicious glare, he barked, "Some people say your movies have a ­hidden feminist agenda. Is that true?" His eyes dancing with delight, Eastwood could barely keep a straight face, finally ­saying, "The only agenda I have for my movies is they should be good."
Well, sure, but funnily enough, McLaughlin was on to something. Recalling the show today, Eastwood says, "Everybody's always trying to put a spin on what a person is or what they do. When I was growing up, George Cukor was known as a women's director, primarily because his movies had great female leads. But Howard Hawks did wonderful movies such as His Girl Friday, and he was considered a man's director." Eastwood has proved to be both. I think a feminist element entered his work almost 40 years ago and made it better. It's not an ideological thing, nor does it need to be.
A gut sense of fairness toward women and a camaraderie built on empathy and respect will do just fine.
Eastwood has become a woman-­friendly director because he's actually interested in us. In his recent films, the sexes take turns on centre stage, from Million Dollar Baby (Hilary Swank as a young woman hoping to box her way out of poverty) to the Iwo Jima war films, then Changeling (Angelina Jolie as a 1920s mother who loses her child under corrupt and horrific circumstances), then Gran Torino (Eastwood as a crusty bigot able to change) and Invictus (with his good buddy Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela).
In his new film, Hereafter, the twain meet again, with the lovely Belgian actress Cecile de France as a journalist trapped underwater by a lethal tsunami, then almost miraculously returned to life, and Matt Damon as a reluctant psychic who can communicate with the dead but longs desperately to be normal. Bryce Dallas Howard puts in a luminous appearance too, and so do little identical British twin brothers.
The supernatural theme in Hereafter is ­subtle, although the movie's inspired description of the afterlife is something to savour. But the film's real subject and the source of its emotional power is that ­terrible thing we all face: not our own death, but the deaths of those we love. Eastwood, who just turned 80, treats this subject with ­uncommon grace. Age hasn't made him maudlin, just deft. Talking about working with him for the first time, de France says, "Every day he would put his hand on my head—he's very cool, very tender. He really emanates love. Watching him work, I thought I really would like to be in his skin. He's happy, and he's found serenity in ­himself."
Does that sound like Dirty Harry to you? Over the years, Eastwood has evolved as few actors have into one of the true—and most versatile—artists of American cinema: acting, directing, producing—even compos­ing the music for some of his films. But before any of this happened, he became a world-famous icon of industrial-strength machismo by playing two characters. In the mid-'60s, he was the Man With No Name, a roughneck serape-wearing cowboy in a trio of Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, a character he gave an allegorical tinge to in 1973 in High Plains Drifter, his third movie as a director. A tale of vengeful salvation, it contains a scene in which his character, dubbed the Stranger, makes a point of raping a woman—an awful woman in the awful town that he's ruthlessly setting to rights, but rape is rape. By that time, the '70s backlash against the transformative '60s had set in. The Man with No Name had an urban counterpart in Dirty Harry Callahan, a Magnum-flashing San Francisco cop who shoots the bad guys and gets in trouble with the city's Constitution-quoting liberals.
The Dirty Harry movies were glib, nasty, and maliciously false; they're not just silly dick flicks but a relentless attack on the Bill of Rights: Judges don't gloat at letting murderers go free, and DAs don't love tying cops' hands. Once the mayor of Carmel, California, Eastwood genuinely cares about the health of the body politic, and whatever he thought about those films at the time (he was past 40 and they made him a huge star) his fans' reactions made him uneasy.
"People are always trying to equate you with the roles you play. When you start going out and diversifying, they say, `Wait a minute, why is he doing this?' In my earlier years, I found that people would be disappointed if I didn't pull out a .45 Magnum." He sounds even more uneasy today about the country at large. "We're at a point now where nobody can have a political discussion without calling each other meatheads and idiots," he says. "In the old days you ­discussed things. I guess we were more liberal then. Now it seems that no one is inter­ested in that. It's very frightening."
Luckily, Eastwood had already begun to diversify, and his first effort as a director, Play Misty for Me (1971), immediately drew complaints. The beautiful Jessica Walter—known today as the mean mom in Arrested Development—plays Evelyn, a fling of Eastwood's late-night DJ who becomes his lethal stalker. Via e-mail, Walter says, 
"We decided we shouldn't know anything about her because it would be scarier that way." 

It is. Evelyn is truly frightening, but she's familiar, too. Who hasn't gone postal on a man and felt mortified afterward? Eastwood's camera never mocks Evelyn. Walter shows us her painful fear and confusion; her eyes widen anxiously as paranoia sweeps over her like a veil, erasing any trace of sanity and culminating in off-the-leash rage. You can't help feeling relieved at her death; it's an end to her suffering as well.

"Forty years ago, people were very conscious of feminism," Eastwood says. "The first picture I directed had Jessica Walter's wonderful performance in a wonderful role, and I had feminists saying, `Why are you so oppressive to women?' At the same time, one of the executives at Universal asked me, `Why would Clint Eastwood want to make a movie where a woman had the best role?' "
Eastwood's oeuvre soon became studded with rich, prominent roles for women, and this time, virtue was rewarded. Five years ago, Million Dollar Baby brought Eastwood Oscars for best director and best picture, another to Hilary Swank for best actress, and one for Morgan Freeman for best supporting actor. The story portrays Maggie Fitzgerald's dogged quest to become a boxer. Eastwood, as the aging trainer Frankie Dunn, unpleasantly points out, "I don't train girls." Eventually he does, of course, and the decision profoundly alters his life. Eastwood and Swank carry equal weight in this movie, but her performance goes so deep it's impossible to imagine ­anyone else in the role. Swank puts it all on him, of course. "It's his great belief in you that lets you jump off the cliff," she says. "Yet you have to have a safety net, and Clint gives that to you by making the set a very safe place in which to work."
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Eastwood is how romantic he can be, off screen as well as on. Known in his jazz-playing youth as a ladies' man not unlike the DJ in Misty, he's now a pater­familias in spades and revels in it. He has seven children with five women, bookended by marriages. His first union, a young actor and model's heady impulse, lasted for more than three decades; the ­second began when TV journalist Dina Ruiz interviewed him, and they're still going strong. His daughter with the actress Frances Fisher lives with him and Dina and their daughter during the school year because Monterey beats L.A. as a place to raise a kid. And he speaks with palpable pleasure about his son Scott, now 24, whom he introduced to music early on and who is now dedicated to it in a way that, Eastwood says wistfully, he and his Depression-era dad couldn't be. If his approach to family is more countercultural than nuclear, then judging by the lack of gossip and bitter tell-all books emanating from the arrangement, everybody seems reasonably content. (In the '80s, however, following her breakup with Eastwood and an undisclosed settlement with him and Warner Bros., Sondra Locke did write a tell-all with the Leone-ian title The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly.)
It's easy to forget that Eastwood didn't just star with Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County, he was her director, too, and the result is one of the best love stories, middle age be damned, ever to grace a movie screen. In adapting the purple-prose novel of thwarted passion between a rural housewife and a photojournalist, Eastwood gave Streep a gift that wasn't just generous but smart—he reversed the perspective. "The book told the story from the man's point of view," he says, "but it's the woman's dilemma of having a family and facing big decisions." Streep describes a scene in which the lovers fight and she accuses him of standing apart from life, just being an observer, and says she's just a byway for him. "And he breaks," she says. "He shocked me when it happened. It was something Sean Penn would be very proud of—you can just march right up to the podium with that performance. And he cut it out. It wasn't about him. It was a matter of never losing focus on the piece and its integrity." As for the notion that a lot of directors don't have a deep interest in women, just saying that to Streep inspires a vigorous hoot. "That is the understatement of the century," she says. "And that's right, it's just interest. Clint at some point became interested."
Eastwood has a witty way with love scenes, particularly the hesitation waltz between people who are just starting to realize what's happening. De France describes a scene in Hereafter in which she and Damon are meeting in a public place. "The camera went around and around, circling us. Suddenly Eastwood says, `Okay, can you kiss the girl?' ”She laughs, adding, "It was not written in the script!" No, but it's there on the screen, two people surprised by love, looking utterly real.
In such unlikely films as the militaristic Heartbreak Ridge, with its gnarled gunnery sergeant (played by our guy) who has a secret stash of women's magazines he pores over to understand us—particularly his ex-wife—better, Eastwood has a way of acknowledging the importance of women. And in Bird, he tells the story of the heroin-doomed jazz genius Charlie Parker from the perspective of Parker's wife, Chan, with Diane Venora both a pungent presence and a satisfying reality check throughout the movie. But never has Eastwood injected a female perspective into a male genre to greater effect than in Unforgiven, the movie he calls his last western because he doesn't believe he'll ever find a better one. Unforgiven, which brought Eastwood his first pair of Oscars in 1993, and the less celebrated 1984 New Orleans noir Tightrope, are two brilliant repudiations of the ethos that made Harry Callahan and the homeless man on horseback into romantic figures.
Unforgiven opens with a particularly ugly act of violence: A cowboy cuts up the face of a young prostitute he thinks has laughed at his small penis. When the bully who runs the town refuses to ­punish the cowboy, the prostitutes' enraged madam rallies them to raise a bounty: "Just because we let them smelly fools ride us like horses doesn't mean they can brand us like horses. Maybe we ain't nothing but whores, but we, by God, ain't horses." That's what brings Eastwood's retired and bitterly regretful gunslinger—now an impoverished widower with small children—into the drama, which plays out violently, and largely among men. But the women's implicit critique of the codes of masculinity infuses the whole movie, preventing it from becoming just another ­righteous thrill ride.

In Tightrope, credited to Richard Tuggle but much of it directed by Eastwood, he creates the antithesis of the confidently lethal Dirty Harry. Wes Block is a New Orleans homicide detective riddled with guilty self-doubt who is the devoted single dad of two daughters. This murkily handsome movie doesn't pit good and evil against each other so much as explore the thin line between them. Pursuing a serial killer, Block finds himself in a moral fun house hall of mirrors; among other things, the killer makes a specialty of murdering the prostitutes Block has taken to visiting. But the movie's most radical element, in more ways than one, is the woman Block finds himself increasingly drawn to. She's the smart, no-nonsense head of a rape crisis centre who teaches self-defence, and as played by the masterfully understated Genevieve Bujold, she holds out to Block not just the possibility of redemption but of simple peace. When I asked Eastwood if she was in Tuggle's script to begin with, he mentioned other things in the script but said he couldn't remember. I'm not sure I believe him, but that's okay. To go in 12 years from High Plains Drifter's portrayal of a woman's punishment by rape to a romance with the kick-ass head of a rape crisis centre is a hell of a learning curve.

Saturday 17 March 2018

Flashback, Clint and Maggie at the Frank Sinatra Retirement Concert, June 13th 1971

On June 13, 1971 at a concert in Hollywood to raise money for the Motion Picture and TV Relief Fund Frank Sinatra at the age of 55, announced that he was retiring, bringing to an end his 36-year career in show business. This concert was held at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. The Program began with Princess Grace of Monaco (the former Grace Kelly) giving the opening remarks followed by the concert. Frank Sinatra was introduced by Rosalind Russell and began his performance by singing All or nothing at all, followed by I’ve got you under my skin, I’ll never smile again, a moving rendition of Ol’ man river, That’s life, Try a little tenderness, Fly me to the Moon, Nancy, My way, The Lady is a Tramp and concluding his performance with Angel eye. His performance was reported as by far the best of the evening. All of the best known entertainers of the time were on the program, not to mention celebrities like Clint Eastwood and his wife Maggie, Robert Wagner, Lucile Ball, David Jansen and Don Knotts that would be in the audience. By all accounts, it was a great show, although Frank Sinatra made his comeback a little more than a year later! It was also memorable for Sinatra’s mic cutting out half way through his opening number, apparently due to someone backstage tripping over the wire and pulling its plug from the socket. Hey, it could happen to the best of em, right?

Saturday 10 March 2018

Clint Eastwood’s Japan critics are always there to make his day

It’s always a refreshing and enduring quality when a director or star finds the ability to hold their hands up and say ‘hey’… In many ways, it’s like watching your football team lose a game, but you nevertheless leave the stadium safe in the knowledge and satisfied that they gave it a damn good go. Acceptance is made all the more easier.
I recently came across this interesting piece from the Culture section of the Japan times and thought I’d reproduce it here.
Everybody knocks out a flop every now and then,” quipped Clint Eastwood during a recent interview to promote his latest movie, “The 15:17 to Paris.”
The film forms part of an informal trilogy dedicated to real-life examples of American derring-do, following on from “Sully” (2016) and “American Sniper” (2014). Yet it’s also the most experimental of the three, thanks to Eastwood’s bold decision to re-create the 2015 Thalys train attack — in which a trio of U.S. backpackers foiled a terrorist gunman — using many of the actual protagonists. Six decades into his career, the filmmaker probably has better things to worry about than the opinions of a few critics, but the response to the movie has been overwhelmingly negative. Though a few writers have rallied to its defense, it has been widely lambasted as “dramatically inert” (The Guardian), “defiantly amateurish” (Time Out) and “too muffled and often too dull to make an impact” (The New Yorker). The esteemed French periodical Cahiers du Cinema, normally one of the director’s staunchest advocates, declared simply: “Eastwood’s latest is a shipwreck.” In Japan, however, the critics are telling a different story. The official website for “The 15:17 to Paris” is festooned with blurbs from dozens of notable film writers, singing from a by-now familiar hymnal. “At the age of 87, Eastwood is in a realm of his own, still reinventing the language of cinema,” says Koremasa Uno. “Are you a god?”
“An innovation in docudrama,” concurs Masamichi Yoshihiro. “I bow down before his directorial abilities.” To say that Japanese critics have a bit of a thing for Eastwood would be an understatement. His films have topped the year-end poll in Kinema Junpo, Japan’s oldest and most respected movie magazine, an extraordinary eight times. Only one of his 14 flicks since 2000 has missed out on a spot in the top 10. Kinema Junpo isn’t alone, either. Eastwood is also a six-time winner of both the Mainichi Film Award and Blue Ribbon Awards, which are voted for by critics, as well as the Japan Academy Prize, which appears to be chosen by throwing darts while blindfolded. Anglophone critics still like to joke about Eastwood’s conservative politics and that thing with the chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention, but in Japan he’s afforded far greater respect. In a passionate defense of “The 15:17 to Paris,” published in i-D, Shinsuke Ohdera rails against his American counterparts for treating Eastwood as a “B-movie director cozying up to popular taste,” without acknowledging the complexity and ambiguity of his work. These are the qualities, he argues, that make Eastwood’s films “a perfect fit” for Japan’s distinctive critical culture; there’s nothing unusual here about a literary magazine mentioning him in the same breath as Jean-Luc Godard.
One distinctive trait of Japanese movie criticism that Ohdera doesn’t mention is that it has very little bearing on a film’s wider reception. “Jersey Boys,” Eastwood’s 2014 adaptation of the Broadway musical, snagged both the Blue Ribbon Award and the top spot in Kinema Junpo’s poll, but pulled in just $2.7 million at the box office — compared to $12 million for “Sully,” and $42.9 million for the Japanese-language “Letters from Iwo Jima.”
Without the burden of shaping popular opinion or answering to irate ticket buyers, film criticism in Japan tends to be pretty academic. One of the most influential figures in establishing Eastwood’s reputation has been the great scholar Shigehiko Hasumi, who has been championing the director’s work for decades. It was during Hasumi’s tenure as president of the University of Tokyo that Kinema Junpo really went all-in with Eastwood, proclaiming “Space Cowboys” the best international film of 2000.
That’s right: “Space Cowboys.”
In retrospect, the magazine may merely have jumped the gun by a few years. When Eastwood snagged Oscars for best picture and director for “Unforgiven” in 1993, few could have foreseen that he would repeat the trick a decade later, with “Million Dollar Baby” in 2005. Moreover, that was just one film in a remarkable late-career bloom that’s also included “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Mystic River,” “Changeling,” “Gran Torino,” “American Sniper” and “Sully.”
“Even Yasujiro Ozu and Alfred Hitchcock started imitating themselves toward the end of their careers,” movie critic Takeo Matsuzaki says. “Compared to them, Eastwood is still just as comfortable tackling contemporary or period material, and covering a wide range of genres, from human drama to science fiction.”
He explains that Kinema Junpo’s poll is compiled using a points system, so even if Eastwood isn’t many critics’ first pick for a given year, he may still amass enough votes to get to No. 1. But really: eight No. 1 films? Including “Jersey Boys” and “Space Cowboys”?
“I think it’s odd,” concurs online film critic Kei Onodera. “Obviously he’s a great director, and I rate him highly myself, but the support he’s had from Kinema Junpo does seem excessive.”
It doesn’t help that even Eastwood’s biggest fans sometimes struggle to pin down exactly what it is they like about him. In a 2016 article, Onodera compared it to the experience of eating at a dowdy-looking restaurant that turns out to serve sublimely good grub.
“There’s nothing ostentatious about his approach,” agrees film writer Mutsuo Sato, a self-professed Eastwood lover and Kinema Junpo hater. “People like Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson are doing things that are more cinematically striking and using more state-of-the-art techniques. You could say that Eastwood is old-fashioned.”
“He means different things to different generations,” says Matsuzaki. Younger writers think of Eastwood principally as a director; older ones might more readily associate him with his screen roles in spaghetti westerns, or even with the “Rawhide” TV series that originally made his name. “He’s been all these things while staying at the forefront of the movie industry for half a century. … He’s a unique presence.”
Matsuzaki, incidentally, is one of the writers blurbed on the website for “The 15:17 to Paris,” where he predicts: “Clint Eastwood’s No 1 spot in the top 10 films of 2018 is already secure.”
For a film that’s currently rated 25 percent on the website Rotten Tomatoes, that seems like an outlandish claim. In Japan, however, it may turn out to be correct.

Saturday 3 March 2018

Cook like Clint – 1970 style!

Well, would you believe it, exactly 1 year ago to the day I posted a fun little piece from 1969, which was one of Clint’s recipes. Out of pure coincidence I last night found another recipe from Clint, from the following year 1970. It’s so strange how these things sometimes work out…
So, this recipe appeared in a book called Cookbook of the Stars, published by Anderson, Ritchie & Simon and compiled by the Motion Picture Mothers, Inc.; 1st Edition, Hardback (1970). The Motion Picture Mother's Club was formed in 1930, as a small social group. It became an incorporated club, limited to one-hundred members, with "charity" within the industry as the chief purpose. The profits from the sale of this cookbook went into the Motion Picture & Television Relief Fund.

Friday 2 March 2018

Early Eastwood captured by Earl Leaf

Photographer-to-the-stars Earl Leaf was known for going behind the scenes with the women of Hollywood's Golden Age, Leaf redefined celebrity portraiture by taking intimate photos that managed to capture, for the very first time, something sensual and true in his female subjects. Leaf partied with the cream of the crop to become the Hollywood insider, a man for whom the professional was always up-close and personal. Here is a selection of Leaf’s early photographs capturing an on-the-rise Clint Eastwood. They were reportedly taken on either June 1st or June 5th, 1956 in Los Angeles, California. Whilst some have probably been seen before, I thought it would be nice to have them all together here.
Born in 1905 in Seattle and raised in San Francisco Earl Leaf spent many years finding his calling.  By 1936 he was the North China manager of the United Press Associations (later known as UPI) covering the Sino-Japanese war. Before that he was a cowboy, sailor, prospector, dude rancher, harvest hand, actor, teamster, bookkeeper, Salvation Army cadet, guitar player in a Hawaiian trio in a Panama cabaret, member of the Nevada state legislature, and a journalist on the road covering unemployed migrants for the Reno Journal. During his time covering the war in China he was the only western journalist to interview and photograph Mao and his comrades behind communist lines in 1938. By 1940 he was back in the US (in New York) and was appointed as an advisor to Chinese government’s Central Publicity Board, and was basically China’s PR man in America. During the war Earl served with the OSS a precursor to the CIA but there is little or no documentation as to what he did for them.
After the war Earl decided that he would be both a photographer and a journalist and spent time after the war in New York shooting the city and taking assignments to shoot artists like Martha Graham and then on to France to record life there after the war.

By 1949 Earl had picked up and moved back to the West Coast arriving in Hollywood in the summer of that year. By the Fall earl had his first Hollywood celebrity session shooting the actress Cleo Moore at home. While there were many celebrity shooters in Hollywood at that time earl broke new ground by shooting the starlets at home in their bedrooms usually in a skimpy negligee. 
Press agents took notice and soon he was shooting the B list elites like Marilyn Monroe and Clint Eastwood who were under studio contract but hardly household names. It was Earl’s job to get them into the papers and fan magazines.
By the early 50’s earl was well established on the scene shooting both candid sessions (never in a studio) and out on the town hobnobbing with the cream of Hollywood like Bogart and Bacall, Brando, john Wayne etc. all of them would willingly pose for him and ham it up for the camera. 

He was welcome everywhere from the Oscars to Ciro’s the Mocambo and the Cocoanut Grove. Unlike almost all of the celebrity photographers of that time Earl not only took the photos but wrote his own stories in the fan magazines and had several syndicated columns. Leaf died in 1980 at the age of 75.

A great deal of Leaf’s early Eastwood shots now belong to The Michael Ochs Archive, located in Los Angeles. The collection contains some 3 million vintage prints, proof sheets and negatives.