Sunday 27 January 2019


Saturday January 26th 2019
Q&A with Anthony Waye (First Assistant Director), Peter Mullins (Art Director), Dennis Fraser MBE (Key Grip), Tessa Kennedy (Elliot Kastner’s wife) and Milica Kastner Kennedy (Elliot Kastner’s daughter)

It’s hard to think of any other World War II epic from the 60s that has endured - not only the test of time, but  which continues to be adored by legions of dedicated fans. The BFI were also quick to recognise the Golden Anniversary of Where Eagles Dare, and as a result, provided a wonderful night of celebration at London’s NFT. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the event was a complete sell out. In fact, a great deal of my friends and colleagues had travelled from every corner of the UK in order to attend this very special night.
Inside NFT 1 during the Q & A 
Prior to the film’s screening, and as a guest of the BFI, I was very fortunate to be invited to meet with some of the Kastner family and our three esteemed guests from the Where Eagles Dare crew;  Dennis Fraser MBE (Key Grip), Peter Mullins (Art Director) and Anthony Waye (Assistant Director, 2nd unit). It was great to get these legends back together again for this event which was due largely to the efforts of Cinema Retro’s Dave Worrall.
L to R - Dennis Fraser MBE (Key Grip), Peter Mullins (Art Director) and Anthony Waye (Assistant Director, 2nd unit)
It was incredible to see the film again on the big screen and in all of its widescreen glory. For a digital presentation it looked pretty good too. The film was shown in a straight forward theatrical version without any of the roadshow elements such as the intermission, although I must confess, this would have been an exceptional bonus. Nevertheless, the film opened and finished to full, appreciated applause from the packed NFT 1 audience. 
After a short break, the stage was prepped for the Q & A session where the aforementioned crew members were also joined by Tessa Kennedy (Elliot Kastner’s wife) and Milica Kastner Kennedy (Elliot Kastner’s daughter). It’s always rewarding to hear these stories first hand and from the people that were actually there. Many areas were covered, the technical issues of filming, how foam was used from the local fire brigade to cover trees when the real snow refused to meet their filming schedule, the testing of the stunt teams courage and how Clint was one of the most charming and delightful people to work with. It was also nice to hear that Milica Kastner Kennedy still gathers up the grandchildren (who were also present) to watch the movie whenever it received a Christmas showing on television. In fact, the overall feeling was one of continued love. It was obviously a production which was also an enjoyable experience, a rare and rewarding shoot, and one in which the ripples and good vibes continue to spread widely.
There was a great deal to be enjoyed last night – the gathering of these master technicians and skilled craftsman are bound to become rarer and rarer. Age is the cruel factor which will always have a bearing on these charming and rewarding reunions and as such, they should be treasured.
So undoubtedly, we would like to thank everyone involved - from the Kastner family who put a great deal of effort into making this event happen, the BFI and their continued commitment to excellent cinema, our three very special and extraordinary guests who brought a genuine, undisputed sense of realism to the proceedings, and of course the fans who continue to support the film and add to its ongoing legacy.   
I would personally like to thank; Liz Parkinson PR Manager, BFI Cultural Programme for making this happen for The Clint Eastwood Archive. I would also like to thank a great group of people and very special friends in helping to make this a special day; Dave Worrall, Davy Triumph, Dave Chantry, Neil Thomson, Mal and Jayne Baker, Mark Ashby and Sharon.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Clint Eastwood Photo Opportunity #9

Here’s our first Photo Opportunity of 2019. It features a great shot of Clint taken close to his then home near Pebble Beach around the tail end of 1976 or early in 1977. It was taken while the BBC was shooting their Documentary ‘The Man with No Name’ which was broadcast by BBC 1 on Wednesday, February 23rd 1977. There are several photos that exist from this photo shoot, where Clint was filmed strolling around the beach area and being interviewed (by Ian Johnstone) for the documentary. I believe the hour long programme was filmed on 16mm, Clint can be seen here, seemingly unable to resist checking out the shot for himself!

The Seventh Art, a Toronto-based publication on cinema and filmmakers said;  
Iain Johnstone‘s BBC documentary on Clint Eastwood observes the budding career of the young actor-turned-director at arguably the peak of his celebrity–still figuring things out as a filmmaker and attracting enthusiastic support (and dissent) along the way. It seems strange now to think Eastwood was once a controversial figure whose films were met with heavy criticism toward their ostensible conservatism and unnecessary violence, especially when it came to Pauline Kael and the release of Dirty Harry, which she forever despised. Kael’s opinions, however premature in hindsight, raised interesting questions on the nature of the star’s acting and directing career, and she fortunately had the chance to speak in Johnstone’s film in between the lengthy interview with Eastwood (which is also excellent). It’s for essential fans and detractors, alike.

A personal note:
I can vividly remember watching this documentary as a 12 year-old kid - and (rather fortunately) it also happened to tie in with a school project we had been set – to write about an icon (probably referred to as ‘a star’ or ‘hero’ back then). I can also remember taping it on an audio cassette at the time. This, and the fact that the family home was often filled with the sound of Morricone, pretty much sealed the deal and made Eastwood the obvious subject of choice.
Life from here on would never quite be the same… 

Sunday 20 January 2019

Clint Eastwood Q&A: ‘They just don’t write that many good roles for older actors’

He inadvertently gets roped into driving drugs up from the Southwest to Chicago.  At first, he doesn’t know what he’s transporting but by the time he finds out what he’s carrying, it’s too late, he’s making so much money doing it.
He knows he should stop but instead turns into a Robin Hood of sorts who gives money to people who really need it. Earl feels stuck between doing what’s right and doing something good for others.
The film, based on The New York Times article The Sinaloa Cartel's 90-Year-Old Drug Mule by Sam Dolnick, is produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, 88, who also plays the role of Earl. In this Q&A Clint talks about returning to acting and how he approached the tricky task of directing himself in his dual roles behind-the-scenes.

Was it tricky for you to decide to act again?
I got to the point where I enjoyed as a director how you can do a lot of different subject matter, whereas an actor, you have to only do things that suit you. They just don’t write that many good roles for older actors as a rule, and so you have to kind of learn to pick and choose.
You just don’t want to do stuff for the sake of doing it. You want to make sure it’s something where you think you can say something new or take a new tack on a certain subject matter.  You can’t just manufacture it. There are not that many writers who know how to write for that sort of thing. 
You know, in the old days – well even in the old days, they had trouble, but they did more roles for people like Walter Houston and people like that – Walter Huston, not John, though I met John, too, when he was older.  Back then they did more of that stuff.  They did more of a variety. 
I’m not interested in doing fantasy stuff, so I just have to kind of wait until good things come along, like Gran Torino. And American Sniper, just as the director only, but it was a subject matter that was a true story and had some values to it.  It’s hard to find that.
And directing is just as much fun [as acting] – it’s actually more fun because you don’t have to look at your own face all the time [Laughs].  You don’t have to switch back and forth; you just stay with the characters that you’re guiding along.

How do you approach directing yourself?
Oh, it’s easy because I’ve been directing since 1970 and Play Misty for Me. I directed myself then, and eventually directed other people only, and it would just vary on the subject matter; if there was a role for me, I did it, if not, I directed somebody else was more suitable for that particular part. 

When you know you’re going to start a new movie, what frame of mind do you usually have?
The pleasure is watching people, how other people do it, you know. The people are doing the same thing you’re doing, but they’re just doing it at different times in their life. And how they approach things, or when they don’t approach it properly you try to guide them into it. 
That’s properly in your brain, in your interpretation. It could be proper in their interpretation, but somehow you have to hire people that understand what you’re trying to get. And usually the scripts are pretty well clear. If somebody comes in and has an interesting character thing, okay, if it’s good, you like it. If it’s not, you say, “Do mind trying it the other way?” just to see what it gives you.

Somebody like Bradley Cooper, was it an immediate choice for you for the part of Colin Bates?
Well, Bradley and I had worked successfully together in Sniper and I admire his talent. So, he was working on A Star Is Born and he finished that, and I said well come over and do this. He was the right age, the right everything for the part. 

Did he ask you questions about directing? Did he ask your advice?
Maybe at times. But I think he pretty well had a good line on what he wanted to do with it. And it was his idea to cast Lady Gaga - that was his idea exclusively. And he was right. It turned out she did a wonderful job in it [A Star is Born].

Bradley as an actor, what do you like about directing him?
He’s very understanding. He’s got very good instincts, knows what’s right for him. And I just kind of worked along with him and suggested things. And he would come back and suggest things and I’d say great, that’s a good idea, or maybe that doesn’t work so well here, or what have you.  But he’s very good, very smart. He’s got a good feel for drama.

Do you think about your legacy as a filmmaker in the history of cinema?
I don’t know. What about it? [Chuckles] It isn’t for me to judge my legacy as a filmmaker. It’s not for me to say because I don’t think about that. I think of just what I’m doing at the time and where I’m headed on individual projects. I don’t have four or five projects and think in terms of categorizing them. It’s so hard to find material that’s suitable, in my opinion. When you find something good, you put all your efforts into it. Then when you don’t have anything, you have to just kind of be patient and wait and find something.

Is it important for you to see what’s being made in Hollywood, the current movies?  Are you interested?
Well, I would love to see more films, but when you’re making them, you don’t really have a lot of time to go see other people’s films.

You filmed on location and then you had to drive for several days to film portions of The Mule, correct? 
We were in Georgia, in the Atlanta area, Rome and Augusta. Then we went over to Las Cruces, New Mexico for about five days, and then to cover the driving shots, where the character I play is actually on the road, we went on a road trip to Colorado.

And how was it for you to see America like this?
Well, I’ve done it before. I mean, I’ve driven across the country before. But to work there and exist there, it was good. It was fun, and all those places are different, had different things going for them. 

The Mule is your 37th film as a director/producer. What does that evoke for you?
Thirty-seven? Is it? [Chuckles] I have hung out a long time. I’ve thought about it a few times, and you never know what gives you a certain longevity. And when you all of a sudden get there, where you’re in the longevity period, then you kind of go, “How long do I want to stay?” But it’s not an intellectual debate, it’s an emotional debate. I’m sure I’ll know someday when I’m tired of doing it, of working. I have never seen that day and never come to that kind of conclusion. But, I think that I would notice it when it came.

Friday 18 January 2019

The Mentors Cemetery in Lago

It’s been over 45 years since Clint branched out to direct his first western feature, High Plains Drifter. The film still remains a favourite among Eastwood’s loyal legion of fans. Another aspect of the production which has long fascinated fans of the film is the cemetery in the town of Lago. Whilst it is barely seen in the film, it was prominently featured on one of the U.S. Lobby cards. The card depicts Clint standing alongside Sarah Belding (Verna Bloom) at one of the tombstones. Not so unusual perhaps, just a production shot that was used for publicity purposes… However, on closer inspection, the said tombstone is clearly marked as Donald Siegel, Clint’s mentor and director. On the same lobby card and to the right hand side, another tombstone can be seen clearly marked as S Leone, the legendary director of the Dollar trilogy. While clearly done as a joke, it had been rumoured that Clint took to making High Plains Drifter partly because he was influenced by these two important men. Yet, it would not be until Unforgiven (1992) that Clint would officially recognise his two mentors.
Below: The U.S. Lobby Card
I thought I’d expand on this story with a very rare photo I’ve had on file and ‘buried’ deep within a folder for a very long time. This picture shows the cemetery in a great deal more detail and without the actors present. As this wider shot reveals, there are a couple of other significant names to be seen.
Below: More names are revealed
Front row, right also shows clearly a tombstone dedicated to ‘B G Hutton’ – which is unquestionably honouring Brian G Hutton. Hutton being Clint’s director on both Where Eagles Dare and Kelly’s Heroes. Directly in the row behind Hutton, the name David Brown can also be seen – which is arguably dedicated to producer David Brown who was at Universal at the time. Brown would also serve as executive producer (alongside Richard D. Zanuck) on The Eiger Sanction some two years later.
There are a couple more headstones that are still not identified, such a ‘Mother Emma’ or the name on the small white cross placed behind. The lobby card also shows a small stone (to the left) marked John …? Naturally, these may not have any meaningful relevance at all and may just be fictitious names. The set is still recognised as a humorous tribute to Eastwood’s most influential directors. Patrick McGilligan's 2002 Eastwood biography quotes Eastwood as saying:
"I buried my directors."

Thursday 17 January 2019

50 Rare Hang ‘em High photos taken by Doris Nieh

We have in the past, featured photos taken by Doris Nieh, most recently a collection that she took during the filming of Dirty Harry in 1971. However, here is something very special, a stunning collection of photos dating right back to 1967 and Clint’s first film in the States, Hang ‘em High. This amazing collection has recently appeared on the auction market and offer a fascinating look at the behind the scenes shooting of the movie. Besides some terrific shots of Clint, the photos also feature director Ted Post and his crew, co-stars Inger Stevens, Pat Hingle, Arlene Golonka, Ed Begley and a whole host of extras. They are quite amazing.