Tuesday 30 November 2021

Ennio Morricone – Sierra Torride Rare French 7” single

Ennio Morricone – Sierra Torride Rare French 7” single

As a collector of Eastwood related vinyl, it can sometimes take a great number of years to get the chance of filling certain gaps in the collection. The very rare French 7” vinyl single in its original picture sleeve has always been one of them. Released in 1970, and under the title of Sierra Torride, this Ennio Morricone single was released on the MCA Record label with the Cat Number MC/S 3710.

It’s great to finally own this piece and I have to thank my friend in France Anthony for securing this one for me.  

Magnum Force Rare Ads

 Magnum Force Rare Ads

Here are a couple of great and rarely seen original ads, both of which feature Magnum Force. The first is the Christmas Day opening of the film when shown at the Tower Theatre in Sacramento, California. The theatre had been closed for a few months while it was converted into three screens. I can’t think of a better way of re-opening. In the second ad, Magnum Force heads a fantastic triple bill show with support from The Enforcer and The Gauntlet. This action-packed triple feature was probably presented in 1978 and was shown at the Starlight Drive-in which was located in Watson to the north of Canberra, Australia. 

My kind thanks to our friend Richard DuVal for these.

Monday 22 November 2021

The subversive sexual politics of Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me

The subversive sexual politics of Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me by Adam Scovell

Compared to other films of the counterculture era, Eastwood’s directorial debut looks at the darker side of Free Love. It’s strange to consider now, but in the early 1970s American film studios were uncertain about the directing abilities of Clint Eastwood. Despite being such a prominent screen figure, Eastwood’s urge to get behind the camera was initially met with scepticism. Having cut his teeth learning from the directors he worked with, in particular Sergio Leone and Don Siegel, Eastwood was soon in a position to make that switch. On the evidence of his directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, critics and studio bosses needn’t have feared.

The film follows Eastwood’s freewheeling, womanising Californian DJ, Dave, who lives in the idyllic coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and hosts the late-night blues and jazz shows for the local radio station. He takes callers’ requests and doesn’t notice that a regular listener always requests Errol Garner’s ‘Misty’. After his latest session, he pops into a bar where he believes he picks up Evelyn (Jessica Walter). In reality, Evelyn is the fan that rings every night to request the song; her obsession with Dave is already out of control.

Dave’s rekindling of his previous relationship with Tobie (Donna Mills) causes Evelyn to become increasingly manic in her attempts to possess the DJ. She stalks him, crashes interviews and work meetings, and even attempts suicide when it’s clear that she is unwelcome in Dave’s house. Just how far is Evelyn prepared to go in order to have Dave to herself?

Eastwood’s debut is a dark film. He harnesses some of the same paranoia seen in Siegel’s films (the director himself making a cameo as a bartender). Yet, for its period, Play Misty for Me is also refreshing in its approach to obsessive tendencies, celebrity infatuation, and even its concern over the removal of barriers in the name of Free Love. With all of these aspects, the film hides many writhing counter-culture horrors underneath its hazy Californian paradise.

Aside from its obvious visual qualities, there is also an unnerving authenticity to the film’s drama. This is especially true of Evelyn’s toxic tactics in getting Dave to seemingly commit to things he repeatedly suggests he doesn’t want. 

This authenticity stemmed from several real-life incidents. The character of Evelyn was inspired first by an anonymous DJ based in Mendocino County, who was stalked intensely by a fan, and an incident from Eastwood’s life when he was still finding his feet as an actor in the 1950s.

When Eastwood was 19, he met a 23-year-old woman who became infatuated with him. As he told one biographer, “There was a little misinterpretation about how serious the whole thing was.” This plays out note-for-note in Play Misty for Me’s early scenes, a misunderstanding quickly descending into something more uncomfortable. Much of the power of these – at times unbearably awkward – scenes comes from the superb Jessica Walter, who possesses a wild-eyed mania that puts her on a par with several of the era’s most unnerving screen villains.
Eastwood had further issues with the studio, who were unsure why the villain of the film should be a woman. “The studio people said, ‘Why do you want to do a movie where the woman has the best part?’” Eastwood recalled to another biographer. “My reaction was: ‘Why not?’ I figured, ‘Why should men have all the fun playing disturbed characters?’”
Walter relishes every moment on screen, her sickly positivity utterly chilling. A one-night stand quickly leads to Evelyn effectively moving in, sneakily having a key cut for the front door and generally veiling her manipulative nature behind pleasantries. 
It’s a believable scenario in which simple acts of kindness are weaponised, escalating until Evelyn resorts to the most extreme act of self-harm; a flash of violence hinting at even greater horrors to come.

The era of Play Misty for Me was a comedown. The accelerated years of the 1960s had restructured, questioned and destabilised just about every aspect of Western society, from its relationship to drugs to its received political norms. The clichéd vision is a mix of social and political revolutions, psychedelia and the popularised counter-culture. “We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…” as Hunter S Thompson wrote in ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, looking back after the wave had crashed.
As when Thompson was writing, the wave was violently receding by the time of Play Misty for Me’s production. Its residue remained, characterised by a different collection of clichés: Altamont, Charles Mansion, serial killers and drug causalities. The changes also brought about by the era’s sexual revolution and Free Love finally realised in full a proudly permissive society in the midst of these nihilistic elements.

The film’s refreshing tone comes as much from questioning the carefree, fun-loving image of the ’60s, reinstating a sense of consequence. The world that emerged from this period of apparent revolution was one of greater sexual education and access to contraception, but it was still ultimately drenched in misogyny. Free Love was a double-edged sword when unleashed within such an intensive period of patriarchy. New freedoms became abused, the system still rigged.

Eastwood’s gift in the film is to invert an already unacknowledged set of issues surrounding these collapsing social barriers and use celebrity culture to enable a switch in gender. While many films position the stalker-stalked relationship as being instigated by the man, the post-Beatlemania, new-celebrity world of the ’70s allows characters like Evelyn to feel more believable. It’s the same world that formed Manson Family members like Linda Kasabian, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel; Evelyn could easily have been another Family member had she dropped more acid.

Though based on events that happened well before such social shifts occurred, it’s difficult to see them happening in the same way as in the early ’70s. As such, it’s useful to compare Play Misty for Me to Vincente Minnelli’s The Sandpiper – not only do both films use the same locations (their opening title sequences are remarkably similar) but they also chart an amorous falling out. Only a few years separate the films and yet the societies they portray could be decades apart. The world of The Sandpiper is equally complicated but not necessarily one that would lead to the sort of demented, shocking finale of Play Misty. When looking at Las Vegas in the early ’70s, Hunter S Thompson wrote “…with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.” 

He was referring to the revolutionary flare of the late ’60s and its inevitable burnout. Perhaps that same high-water mark hit the misty coasts of Big Sur, right along the cliffs of Carmel-by-the-Sea where the naivety and optimism of the age hit the same rocks as Evelyn’s body in her last fateful effort to violently grasp the new freedoms of the age with both hands. 

My kind thanks to both Adam Scovell and David Jenkns of Little White Lies

Wednesday 17 November 2021


To celebrate the release of Clint Eastwood’s latest theatrical release Cry Macho and the new digital documentary series, Clint Eastwood – A Cinematic Legacy, celebrating Eastwood’s 50 years of filmmaking at Warner Bros, we have 1 copy of the ‘Clint Eastwood – 40 Film Collection’ to giveaway.

Clint Eastwood once again directs/produces and acts in his latest feature Cry Macho. An uplifting and poignant drama, starring Eastwood as Mike Milo, a one-time rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder who, in 1979, takes a job from an ex-boss to bring the man’s young son home from Mexico. Forced to take the backroads on their way to Texas, the unlikely pair faces an unexpectedly challenging journey, during which the world-weary horseman finds unexpected connections and his own sense of redemption. Cry Macho will be released nationwide on 12th November 2021 by Warner Bros. Pictures.

In addition, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Clint Eastwood – A Cinematic Legacy on digital platforms on 5th November 2021. This nine-episode documentary series explores Eastwood's 50 years of filmmaking at Warner Bros. 2021 marks the 50th year of his partnership with Warner Bros. (“Dirty Harry”).

· Episode 1 - “A Director's Vision”
· Episode 2 - “The Heart of a Hero”
· Episode 3 - “Witness to History”
· Episode 4 - “Reinventing the Western”
· Episode 5 - “An Actor’s Director”
· Episode 6 - “No Holds Barred”
· Episode 7 - “Fighting for Justice”
· Episode 8 - “Courage Under Fire”
· Episode 9 - “Triple Threat”

To enter simply answer the following question:
Clint starred as Dirty Harry in 5 movies, but what other two films from the 1980’s did he also play a cop? 
Please answer via a comment here, along with your name and address. Because of data protection, no details will be made public. One lucky winner will be randomly picked from the bag. 
The winner will be published here after the competition closes, and at the winner’s consent.
Competition is open to UK residents only.
Competition closes Midnight, Monday, 22nd November 2021.
Entrants must be aged 18 or over - GOOD LUCK! 
Thank you to everyone who entered, the competition was very popular. The answer was of course City Heat and Tightrope.
Our lucky winner was Susan in Scotland,Congratulations!

Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face 

Play Misty for Me remains an impressive movie and for many reasons. Aside from an impressive directorial debut, excellent performances from a fine cast and of course a gripping story which remains effective some 50 years on, there was also a song that remained integral to the movie, and arguably more memorable than the film’s title track. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face originally began life as a 1957 folk song written by British political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger. The track went on to be covered several times – but it will no doubt always be most associated with Roberta Flack’s haunting version used for the love scene during Play Misty for Me. The following is a brief history of how Flack’s version blossomed from a minor album track into a worldwide modern classic. 
While Clint was filming his directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, he approached Flack and asked for permission to use “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for the movie’s love scene between himself and Donna Mills. In a 2012 interview with The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Flack recounted the story of getting the call from Eastwood at her Alexandria, Virginia home. He’d heard her version on his car radio while driving down a Los Angeles Freeway. 

Flack recalled: “Eastwood said, I’d like to use your song in this movie…about a disc jockey, with a lot of music in it. I’d use it in the only part of the movie where there’s absolute love.’ I said okay. We discussed the money. [Eastwood would pay $2000 for use of the song.] He said: ‘Anything else?’ And I said: ‘I want to do it over again. It’s too slow.’ He said: “No, it’s not.'”

Flack remembered that while recording “The First Time” for her album (First Take, 1969), her producer Joel Dorn suggested that she speed up the tempo to make it more commercial. Flack refused, which prompted Dorn to say, “Okay, you don’t care if it’s a hit or not?” Flack responded that she didn’t care. Flack would later say of Dorn, ” Of course he was right for three years, until Clint got it.”

Flack’s version of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” which first surfaced on her debut album in 1969, didn’t become a sensation until the November 1971 release of “Play Misty for Me.” Atlantic Records decided to release the track as an official single in February 1972, with a minute trimmed off. The rest is history.
In 2015, Flack told The Daily Telegraph of her first hit single, “It’s a perfect song. Second only to ‘Amazing Grace,’ I think… It’s the kind of song that has two unique and distinct qualities: it tells a story and it has lyrics that mean something. …The song can be interpreted by a lot of people in a lot of different ways: the love of a mother for a child, for example, or [that of] two lovers. I wish more songs I had chosen had moved me the way that one did. I’ve loved [most] every song I’ve recorded, but that one was pretty special.”
The track stayed at No. 1 for six weeks on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts in the spring of 1972, with a peak at No. 4 on the R&B chart. The song was played as the wake-up music for astronauts aboard Apollo 17, on their final day in Lunar orbit (Friday, 12/15/1972) before returning to earth. Flack is the only solo artist to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year on two consecutive years: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” won at the 1973 Grammys and “Killing Me Softly with His Song” won at the 1974 Grammys.
Below: The Love scene from Play Misty for Me

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Clint and Maggie dine out Tahitian style!

Clint and Maggie dine out Tahitian style!

Here’s a nice vintage newspaper cutting that captures Clint and Maggie while dining out at the Tahitian Restaurant, Studio City, California. Whilst we can’t be sure of the exact date, it has to be circa 1959-60. 

The February 21st, 1959 Los Angeles Times stated that “Don Avalier and Bill Dove’s place, called The Tahitian, opened last night with a press preview party at 12010 Ventura Blvd., Studio City.  Even the bartenders were imported from Hawaii, the proprietors say.”  

Many thanks to Kevin Walsh. 

Sunday 14 November 2021

Celebrating Misty at Fifty!

Celebrating Misty at Fifty

This month marks the 50th Anniversary release of Play Misty for Me (1971). I’ll be posting a couple of pieces here to mark the occasion of Clint’s directorial debut. But firstly, I wanted to post this magazine feature / interview which is rarely seen today. It took place, and appeared in a U.S. periodical (Movies Now, Vol. 1 No 1) which went on sale in theatre foyers during the Summer of 1971. Clint had just completed work on Play Misty for Me, and talks about his career, working with Don Siegel, and about directing his first feature. 

Monday 8 November 2021

Made In America Collection: CLINT EASTWOOD A Movie Legends Life in Pictures

Made In America Collection: CLINT EASTWOOD A Movie Legends Life in Pictures

This new publication came to our attention last month. No doubt published to tie in with the release of Cry Macho, it appears to be in the style of a glossy magazine. We know it’s 96 pages, but other than that, we know very little. We would love to take a closer look at it for review purposes, but unfortunately, at present, it only seems to be available on Ebay in the United States. It varies in price, but of course the postage, packaging and import taxes can make it ridiculously expensive. Times have changed, and not for the better. Anyway, just thought I’d feature it here - for the record.