Thursday 18 August 2022

The Fate of the Dirty Harry Trestle

The Fate of the Dirty Harry Trestle
Fans of the original Dirty Harry (1971) have always had a certain ‘fascination’ with the trestle or the ‘Dirty Harry Bridge’ as it has widely come to be known.  It was featured of course during the climax of the film when Harry makes the jump from the trestle onto the school bus.

A few months ago, our U.S. correspondent Kevin Walsh sent me a couple of pieces which centred on the dismantling of the trestle and a picture illustrating one of the many protests that took place in an attempt to stop the removal of this historic and iconic landmark. The issue of the trestle removal was brought to a head in June 2003 when the bridge was damaged by a tractor trailer carrying a mounted crane. The crane was a load too high to pass under the structure. It struck and damaged the main beam on a section of the wooden trestle. The City of Larkspur declared the damaged bridge a hazard to public safety, determined it could not be repaired, and ordered it removed. 

Above: Removal of 100 feet of the trestle was completed in August 2003 despite significant protests by bicyclists and others.
The replacement for the trestle (below) is an upscale bicycle and pedestrian bridge that cost $13 million. The contemporary, unadorned steel bridge is notable for its long unsupported centre span as well as a lack of any reference to the site’s railroad heritage.
It was some 19 years ago that we (a group of Eastwood fans) became aware that the famous Dirty Harry Trestle was going to be demolished for good. A good few of us felt that this was a great tragedy as it really remained an important landmark. So some of us worked with a local friend in order to save the section of the rail from which Clint jumped onto the school bus. It was all worked out perfectly (geographically) - it was studied and researched as to which lane the bus was travelling and from there worked out exactly which portion of the rail track Clint was standing on to leap onto the bus. Working with the construction company that was dismantling the trestle the piece was measured and a form of 'laser cutting' process was used to cleanly cut it into sections. What we were left with was a nice, unusual piece of nostalgia. Yes, essentially, it’s just a heavy piece of steel, but something I have never regretted owning. In fact, I look at it on my window seal every day and still love it, knowing the history and relevance behind it. If anything, it certainly makes for a perfect conversation piece.  
In February 1976, a fan and a group of his friends made the pilgrimage to the famous location, but not before making their own Dirty Harry cut-out! Like a lot of fans, they also worked out a position and proceeded to climb the trestle and nail their own Dirty Harry tribute to the famous landmark.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

In the Line of Fire Director Wolfgang Peterson dies aged 81

In the Line of Fire Director Wolfgang Peterson dies aged 81
Director Wolfgang Petersen, whose German-language film “Das Boot” launched a successful Hollywood filmmaking career that included star-studded films like “Air Force One”, “The Perfect Storm” and the excellent Eastwood thriller “In the Line of Fire” has died. He was 81.
Petersen died on Friday with his wife Maria Antoinette by his side after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Petersen’s film “Das Boot” or “The Boat” (1981) launched his career in Hollywood after the close-quarters WWII submarine drama received six Academy Award nominations. The film starred Jürgen Prochnow as the German U-boat Captain, and was made into an English language miniseries by the BBC.

Peterson quickly became one of the most in-demand directors of technically complex star-driven studio action films — a run that included The Perfect Storm (2000), Air Force One (1997), Outbreak (1995), Shattered (1991) — which he also wrote — Troy (2004) and Poseidon (2006).

In 1993, Peterson directed Clint in the excellent thriller, In the Line of Fire (1993). In the Line of Fire arrived as Eastwood decided to take a short break from directing following completion of Unforgiven and A Perfect World. Hiring Peterson as director alleviated additional stress and allowed Clint to fully immerse himself into the role of actor. It turned out to be a very wise move, and resulted in a superb performance from Clint - and a finished film that many fans regard as one of their very favourites.
Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote: "It's movie making of the high, smooth, commercial order that Hollywood prides itself on but achieves with singular infrequency."
Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half stars out of four, writing: "Most thrillers these days are about stunts and action. In the Line of Fire has a mind."  
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called the film "crisply entertaining". He praised the casting, "Malkovich’s insinuating, carefully thought out delivery is in the same way an ideal foil for Eastwood’s bluntly straightforward habits", and Eastwood "every part of this film trades so heavily on Eastwood’s presence that it is impossible to imagine it with anyone else in the starring role."

He was well-liked amongst his peers and admired by the talent he worked with including Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Rene Russo, Glenn Close, Mark Wahlberg, Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman and Diane Lane.
“Being directed by Wolfgang on Air Force One remains a special memory,” Glenn Close said in a statement Tuesday. “Even though the script was thrilling and incredibly intense, I remember a lot of laughs, especially in the scenes around the huge table in the War Room. Wolfgang set a remotely controlled camera that could rotate in place, seamlessly covering all of us, one after another. You knew the camera would pause on you by his hilarious direction while setting up the shot.”

Born on March 14, 1941, in Emden, Germany, Petersen began his directing career with short films and TV movies in the 1960s and ’70s. His first theatrical pic was One or the Other (1974), and he followed that with The Consequence in 1977, for which he also penned the adapted screenplay.
In addition to his wife, Petersen is survived by his son, Daniel, and two grandchildren. 
Funeral services will be private.
RIP Sir.

Thursday 11 August 2022

NATO’s Male Star of the Year 1971 Rare Warner Bros One Day Advertisement

NATO’s Male Star of the Year 1971 Rare Warner Bros One Day Advertisement

Here’s a nice and very rare One Day only, full page advertisement published by Warner Bros. and congratulating Clint on his receiving of NATO’s Male Star of the Year award in 1971. The winning female that year was Actress Ali MacGraw who was enjoying a wave of success after the film Love Story. This full page Ad, appeared in the trade paper Variety on October 28th 1971, and was perfect timing as Dirty Harry was scheduled to be released just a couple of months later in December 1971. 

I’ve been meaning to post this ad for a long time now, but the original source image I had (whist a good resolution) was rather badly yellowed and photographed slightly off angle. So it needed to be fully digitally restored including its tone and lighting re-balanced and some text realigning.  It’s been quite a job but now looks more true to how it would have looked when it first appeared over 50 years ago. 

For people who may not know, we have quite an extensive couple of posts in regards to this event, with a great deal of superb colour and b/w photos. I contacted NATO many years back, and they were instrumental in providing a wealth of material for use here on the Archive - for which I am still so very grateful. They were absolutely excellent.

The original post can be found (HERE) and the follow up post (HERE) they are well worth revisiting. 

Paramount / Wink Paint Your Wagon colouring competition

Paramount / Wink colouring competition
Here’s a throwback to the days of great film tie-in and promotions and features a colouring competition where you could win yourself a brand new Volkswagen Beetle! The competition was a promotion between both Paramount and Wink (a U.S. drink brand) and designed to tie-in with the release of Paint Your Wagon. Yes! Paint your Wagon! Now it all becomes clear…
A nice bit of vintage promotion that we sadly seldom see today and a real trip to yesteryear. 
Oh and if you are lucky enough to find one of these don’t worry about entering, the closing date was midnight, May 15th… 1969! 

Wednesday 10 August 2022

Clint Eastwood Photo Opportunity #28

Clint Eastwood Photo Opportunity #28

I've not posted a Photo Opportunity since June, and with the amount of photos I have on file I really should try and make this some monthly task. There are so many great photos that simply need to be seen.

Here's a cracking photo of Clint and his former wife, Maggie Johnson, attending the party for the Annual Celebrity Tennis Tournament, held at the La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California on 26th June 1971.

The Man who loved Cat Dancing Premiere

The Man who loved Cat Dancing Premiere

Here’s a nice selection of photos from the premiere of the Burt Reynolds western film, The Man who loved Cat Dancing. The premiere took place on Tuesday June 26th, 1973 at the Regency Village Theatre, Los Angeles. 

Clint and Maggie Eastwood as long-time friends of Reynolds and his partner Dinah Shore both attended the Premiere. Clint at this time was in the middle of shooting Magnum Force (1973) which began shooting in the April in and around California and which no doubt made it easier to fit into his schedule.

Some of these photos of Clint will probably be familiar to most fans, the standard tux and bow tie attire often leaves little room for identifying one event from another, whilst the ladies do tend to mix their dress - and therefore helps in pinpointing what they were wearing where and when…

So a good bit of hard research went into this piece in order to check and double check, and as a result we feel pretty confident that these all originate from the Burt Reynolds premiere. I would also like to thank one of our administrators, Steve Saragossi who again helped to gather this information.

The Man who loved Cat Dancing opened to mixed reviews, New York critics were not too taken by it, while West coast critics appeared to praise it more. Roger Greenspun of The New York Times said, “The film's poetry is as numbing as its violence. The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing is, indeed, a kind of festival of incompetence. Each shot is held slightly too long or too short, and is somehow off-centre. Each performance is uncertain, like something seen in an early rehearsal.”  In contrast, Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times liked the movie. He noted the complications in making the picture. He concluded "In spite of the difficulties faced by the actors and filmmakers, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing boasts gorgeous widescreen location photography and an interesting feminist spin on traditional western formulas”
And indeed there were some difficulties during the shoot. While filming in Arizona, Sarah Miles' personal assistant, David Whiting, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in her hotel room at Gila Bend, Arizona, on February 11th. An inquest into the death was heard. MGM objected to Miles and Reynolds appearing on the grounds that it would hold up production. A doctor gave evidence that the death was due to a drug overdose, and the head injury came from Whiting falling against a table. Filming of the unit shifted to Rio Rico, Arizona.
Reynolds spoke very little about the film, simply saying "it's not as good as the book." Speaking in 1976, Reynolds said, "There's nothing to talk about in Cat Dancing except that it brings me pain, so I'd rather not talk about it."

Clint mini season Fox promo from 2004

Here's a rather nice and recently discovered little gem, a TV advertising spot for a Fox channel mini season of films to tie in with Clint's birthday back in 2004.


Friday 5 August 2022

Screenwriter David Peoples talks about the lost ending Clint Eastwood cut from Unforgiven

As Unforgiven celebrates its 30th anniversary, Ethan Alter, Senior Writer for Yahoo Entertainment speaks to Unforgiven screenwriter David Peoples, August 4th, 2022.
Clint Eastwood knows when a story's been told. Over the course of his filmmaking career, the Hollywood icon has cultivated a famously no-frills style behind the camera, often shooting scenes in one take and excising material he deems extraneous — even if the sequence plays beautifully. That was the case with Eastwood's 1992 Western, Unforgiven, his triumphant farewell to the genre that made him a star and won him Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director.

Premiering in theaters thirty years ago on August 7, 1992, the film originally had a different ending that Eastwood shot, but decided to leave out of the final cut. "I miss it to this day," Unforgiven screenwriter David Peoples (Left) admits to Yahoo Entertainment. "But Clint got the movie right."

The scene in question appears in a 1984 draft of Peoples's screenplay when Unforgiven was still titled The William Munny Killings, after the movie's central character — played by Eastwood — a retired 19th century gunman who reluctantly gets back into the killing game to collect on a big payday. Since hanging up his guns at the behest of his dearly departed wife, Munny has tried to make a living as a pig farmer working alongside their two young children, Will Jr. (Shane Meier) and Penny (Aline Lavasseur). But when the self-proclaimed "Schofield Kid" (Jaimz Woolvett) shows up with news that a $1,000 bounty has been placed on the heads of two Wyoming cowboys that slashed a prostitute (Anna Thomson), the veteran outlaw leaves his kids behind and walks a dark path back into a life he abandoned — a path that brings him face to face with another violent man, Little Bill (Gene Hackman).

Peoples originally wrote The Willliam Munny Killings in 1976, and Eastwood acquired the rights in the early ’80s, but held off on making it for years. By the time the movie did go before cameras in the fall of 1991, the director and star had changed the title, but very little of what was on the page — including the final scene that Peoples liked so much. After taking care of his bloody business in the town of Big Whiskey, the screenplay ends with Munny returning to his Kansas homestead where he has a tender reunion with his children, calling his daughter "a lady" and gently praising his son for taking care of the farm.

But a tension underlies that tenderness as he keeps the truth of his journey hidden from both children. "I guess you didn't kill nobody then," Will Jr. remarks to his father after Munny declines to explain the exact reason for their sudden financial windfall. "Naw, son, I didn't kill nobody," the killer lies through gritted teeth.
Peoples says that he modeled the scene directly after the final moments of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, where Michael (Al Pacino) lies to Kay (Diane Keaton), about his involvement in the gangland massacre that solidified his standing as the new Don Corleone. (Funnily enough, Coppola was originally attached to direct The William Munny Killings before Eastwood acquired the script.) "What's good about that scene is that it means that the killings aren't triumphant killings," the writer explains. "Munny doesn't say, 'I killed that motherf***er.' He's ashamed of what he's done."

Eastwood filmed the ending as written, and screened it for Peoples — who wasn't on set for production — during the editing process. "He did the scene beautifully," he recalls now. But the director also had some bad news: as good as the finale was, he'd already decided to leave it on the cutting room floor. Instead, the final moments jump directly from the aftermath of Munny's killing spree to Peoples's elegiac postscript, which reveals that he and his kids abandoned the farm and started over elsewhere — possibly as a dry goods magnate in San Francisco — with only his wife's grave left behind to mark their presence.

"He said he thought that it was a beat too many, and he wasn't going to use it," Peoples says of Eastwood's reasoning for cutting the Munny family's reunion. "He had this sense that the movie had already ended, and sticking on another scene wasn't going to help. As the sensitive writer, I wish somehow it could have made it in, but he got the rhythm right. He has a brilliant sense of drama."

To this day, Peoples is one of the only people who has seen that original ending, which has otherwise never been released, even as a DVD bonus feature. "I don't know what's happened to it," he says. "I don't know if it's something Clint would want to re-release or put on a reel or something. Either way, it's done. He made the movie, and it's a beautiful movie."
In an expansive conversation ahead of the film's 30th anniversary, Peoples — whose other classic credits include the screenplays for Blade Runner and 12 Monkeys, written with his wife, Janet Peoples — shared other stories about the making of Unforgiven, including a now-famous line that Eastwood rewrote during shooting and what the film has to say about the Western genre's history of violence.

You've said over the years that Unforgiven was inspired by Taxi Driver, which is an interesting reference point.

Yeah, in the ’70s I was trying to write some screenplays and I had found that the way people died in movies really didn't seem credible. It was appropriate for big adventure movies like James Bond, but it just didn't work in regular entertainment in my mind. So I resolved that I wasn't going to kill anyone: I would write comedies or things like that. But then I saw Taxi Driver and I was like, "Holy s***!" It was an entertaining movie that also had a reality to it and a character in Travis Bickle who was so powerful and poignant. It knocked me out.

At the same time, I also read The Shootist by Glendon Swarthout, which had just been made into a movie with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. The movie was this sweet thing, whereas the book is dark and disturbing. So that combined with Taxi Driver got me thinking about William Munny, and that's where the script began.

I do have to add: after the movie came out, 20th Century Fox called me about introducing a DVD package of three Westerns, including Henry King's The Gunfighter from 1950. I saw that film when I was 11 years old, and it had stayed with me, but I was never able to rewatch it because it wasn't findable. They send me the DVD, and I watched it for the first time since I was a kid and I was stunned at how much it had influenced Unforgiven without me being aware of it! So if you ever watch the movie, you'll realize how much it influenced me, even though I didn't realize it at the time.

There were also a number of revisionist Westerns in theaters at that time as well — movies like The Wild Bunch and McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Did any of those influence you?

I was very into revisionist Westerns, but I didn't care for The Wild Bunch that much. There's a lot of good stuff in it, but that kind of flashy, phony violence didn't work for me. What interested me were the Westerns like Winchester ’73, The Great Minnesota Northfield Raid and The Culpepper Cattle Co. I liked the Westerns that weren't that big John Wayne and John Ford stuff — the ones that weren't mainstream, so to speak.

How did you feel about Clint Eastwood's Westerns specifically?

I really began to be a huge fan of his when I saw Bronco Billy in 1980. That's an absolutely wonderful film and Clint gives a superb performance in it. So I was aware that he was a really good storyteller, and I began to notice that he made movies where he was a big star and made a lot of money and then he would also make a movie where he just wanted to tell a story. When he bought Unforgiven, I hoped I would get the terrific Clint Eastwood, because there were some Clint Eastwood movies I didn't love. I thought, "Well, I hope he does something good," but there are never any guarantees in the movie business.

Since you were inspired by Taxi Driver, did you ever hope that Martin Scorsese might direct it?

I don't know that I ever thought of that, but I do know that just the thought of Martin Scorsese directing something always got me going. I remember that when Janet and I wrote the original draft of something that eventually became Steven Spielberg's Munich, we thought it was much more a Scorsese picture than a Spielberg picture. But I never thought of him directing a Western — it just didn't come to me.
Eastwood's iconography as a Western star plays a major role in the film: did you expect him to have to wrestle with that when he acquired the script?

You know what? I don't think I thought about it very much. After he bought the script in 1984 or 1985, he mentioned to me on the phone that he thought it was good and that he'd like to grow into the part — that he wasn't ready for it. But when he was ready, he did it. And when I was writing it, I wasn't thinking of Clint Eastwood as much I was just thinking about those other movies I mentioned earlier. I was just hopeful that he would do what was there on the page, and he nailed it.

Aside from the ending, one of the other major differences between your script and the film is that Munny was originally intended to only have three fingers on one of his hands. When did that detail fall away?

Yeah, his nickname was "Three Fingered Jack." I never took it out of the script, so I think that Clint probably just didn't want to do that. I mean that's a lot of work and it's also time consuming! I liked it because it wasn't usual, and I think people in those days were a lot more beat-up than we are now. They lived very physical lives, so it was about trying to get a feeling for the time. But acting with a three-fingered prosthetic would have been a workout, and Clint achieved the feeling of the time without it. If you look at that ’84 script, you'll also see there's a lot of snow in it, and I think he knew that snow would have made the movie a more extravagant production than he wanted to do.

I also noticed that his famous line, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it," was originally written as "Deserve don't mean s***."

Yeah, he changed it because he said it sounded too modern and I respect that. I originally thought "Deserve's got nothing to do with it" sounded a little awkward, whereas "Don't mean s***" had a better rhythm. So I felt a little bad about it for a while until I heard people quoting it! When that happened, I realized, "Clint knew what he was doing." [Laughs] That's normal for writers: we can react very negatively to any line that changes, sometimes because it's changed for the worse and other times because it's just different than what we heard in our heads. It's just like the movie's title: when Clint said, "What do you think of Unforgiven?" I said, "That sounds okay," because I didn't have a better title to offer. Lo and behold, all these years later, I realize it's the perfect title — I just didn't know that at the time."

When he made those kinds of changes to the script, would he alert you ahead of time or would you learn about it after the fact?

I learned almost everything about the movie when I saw the movie. He did once ask me to do two pages of rewrites, but when he invited me over to see a cut of the film, I said, "The rewrite isn't in there." And he said, "Nah, it was better before." That's one of the things that makes me admire him tremendously: in Hollywood, people tend to write things until they get really bad, and then they either make them or put them in a drawer. But he doesn't rewrite things to death. My rewrite wasn't an improvement, so he threw it away and that's pretty unusual, which gets my respect.

Do you remember what was in your rewrite specifically?

Yeah, he wanted Delilah [the prostitute whose face is sliced] to show up at the very end. I thought that wasn't a great idea, but I wasn't going to argue with Clint Eastwood! [Laughs] I wrote it and I was surprised that it worked better than I thought it would. It wasn't the stupid, sentimental Hollywood ending that I expected, but it was also better without it.

Eastwood cast Morgan Freeman as Ned, Munny's friend and former partner-in-crime. The script doesn't specify the character's race and doesn't really address race at all. Is that something you might have changed had you known in advance that Freeman would be playing the role?

I had deliberately kept race out of the picture pretty much, but the idea of a great actor like Morgan Freeman saying stuff I'd written thrilled me. I just regretted that I didn't say, "Let's call him Black Ned." Many of the characters in the film are referred to by their physical characteristics. Strawberry Alice [played by Frances Fisher] has red hair, and there's also Little Bill and English Bob [played by Richard Harris], so Ned probably should have been called Black Ned. People would have called him that at that time, I think.
What I didn't understand was how nasty it would make Little Bill appear when he tortures Ned at the end of the movie. In this case, I didn't see Little Bill beating him because of his race — he's beating him because of who he is. Ned has come there to kill people in his territory, and Little Bill was going to beat the living s*** out of him whether he's white or Black. We look at that scene today, and it seems to the audience like he's beating him because he's Black, and I certainly understand that. But that's interpreted through a modern vision. At any rate, Morgan Freeman is wonderful.

How did you feel about Gene Hackman playing Little Bill? He won an Oscar for the part, but did you have someone else in mind originally?

No, I didn't. I certainly wasn't disappointed when he came on, but I couldn't have dreamed how good his performance would be. When I finished writing the script, all of Little Bill's lines were funny as well, but when I'd re-read it, I'd think, "This is too talky." Then I saw Hackman onscreen, and he did everything right. He was funnier, cooler and better than the Little Bill in my head. Clint cast the movie brilliantly.
The crux of the movie for me is the scene where Munny tells the Schofield Kid, "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man." Do you think Eastwood was aware of how his own history as an actor would impact that moment?

He's a very smart man, so I'm sure he's aware of a lot of things. But it wasn't anything I specifically thought of. That scene worked out terrifically, because the characters were doing their own talking. Interestingly, when I started writing the film, the crux of it for me was the scene where Munny is lying there thinking that he's dying. I just thought that no one had ever seen a tough guy like this be scared of dying unless it's some kind of last minute thing. So that scene was important for me to write, and was very much influenced by The Shootist.

You mentioned how you have an uneasy relationship with violence in movies. Do you wish more films addressed the ramifications of killing in the way that Unforgiven does?

Well, I think a lot of them do. It's interesting: Clint Eastwood had made some movies in which the violence is at least on some level celebrated, and some people have said that Unforgiven is anti-violence. I never thought of it that way. I thought of it as trying to do what Scorsese does in most of his pictures, which is make violence a part of life. It's not a good thing or a bad thing, but something that we all carry within us and that comes out in circumstances in all sorts of people. I like movies that aren't celebrating violence, but also not preaching that violence is bad, because it's part of human nature. So I never saw Unforgiven as an anti-violence picture. I saw it as a picture that accepted the fact that violence is part of who we are.

It's interesting to me that Unforgiven remains Eastwood's last real Western. Movies like A Perfect World and Cry Macho have elements of the genre in them, but he's never revisited the Old West in the 30 years since that film.

I've liked a lot of stuff he's done since then. I love The Mule and I love Gran Torino. He keeps on making good movies. But I sure do love Unforgiven, and I was so lucky that Clint took the picture. He understood every scene, and knew what he was doing. A lot of directors forget that the writer had much to do with a film, but he has always been very courteous in his interviews to refer to my script and share the credit. I'm as grateful for that as for the fact that he made a brilliant movie.

Have you ever contemplated revisiting Munny or Little Bill in a prequel film?

I did think about what Munny would have been like as a young man, and that idea veered off into a script that wasn't literally about him, but a young man that was somewhat like him. But I never got anywhere with it. There are people you could write more about from that film, but only if you had the feelings for them, and I don't think I would feel that way about Little Bill! They did do a Japanese version (2013's Yurusarezaru Mono, starring Ken Watanabe in the Eastwood role). I haven't watched it, but people have told me that it's really good. I haven't watched some of the pictures I've written myself, so that's just how it is! (Laughs).

My kind thanks to Steve Saragossi for this piece.