Tuesday 30 April 2024

WHERE EAGLES DARE – The Early BBC Broadcasts

WHERE EAGLES DARE – The Early BBC Broadcasts
It’s strange how many memories are sparked by a simple reminder of a TV broadcast of a certain film, at a certain time and place. 

Just recently this month, a few friends of mine were chatting about the first ever showing on British Television of Where Eagles Dare. Perhaps it was in the fact that it was a Christmas season showing, the Christmas of 1979 in fact. In 1979 a great deal of us were of course still in our teenage years and anticipation for films on television back then almost seemed like an event. 
One has to of course remember that back in 1979 there were simply just three channels on UK Television, BBC 1, BBC 2 and the reginal ITV channel. Today – the choice is seemingly endless, but back in the day, we were far less spoilt for choice, factors which again made a TV showing something special.

(Left Christmas 1979 edition of Radio Times)

Personally, I was quite lucky to capture Where Eagles Dare on a big screen as a kid while still at school. We were fortunate enough to have a film club once every couple of weeks in the evening. A particular film was hired on 16mm (I think from Rank’s rental library) and the film was shown in an assembly hall by a teacher on a rather large screen which dropped down over the school stage. It was a nice treat, although the film was flat as opposed to scope it at least gave us an opportunity to experience the film in some sort of large-scale grandeur. Plus, I had a regular job of stacking all the chairs at the end of the evening – the reward being a quad poster for my efforts – so Where Eagles Dare was already gracing my bedroom wall! 

Nevertheless, for the film to turn up on BBC Television over the Christmas season was still a cause to celebrate. A great deal of us still have such vivid memories of this TV ‘premiere’, and the joy it provided. 

Back in 79 of course there were no 16:9 TV sets, no widescreen broadcasts, so instead we had to enjoy this film in a panned and scanned version, and if lucky, perhaps on a 25” or a monster 26” glass blown tube. But hey, we never knew any different and it really didn’t matter.

So, Where Eagles Dare premiered on British TV at 7.10pm on the 26th December 1979 – some 11 years after its original cinema release – and for the next 150mins we sat glued while no doubt rifling through a large tin of Quality Street. Thanks to the excellent TVARK, the original Christmas Day BBC promo still exists – and is archived for future generations to enjoy HERE

Video cassettes were still a little way off in 1979 and wouldn’t really enter the mainstream until a couple of years later in the early 1980’s. So fans would have to wait a little over a year to get a second viewing of their favourite World war II adventure. The Easter season of 1981 in fact, when the film was shown again on BBC 1 on Easter Monday, April 20th 1981 at 7.20pm. 

I remember this showing particularly well and for personal reasons. With VHS and Betamax recorders starting to appear on the market, I was getting close to putting down a deposit on my first Video Cassette recorder – a Ferguson 3V23 VHS recorder – which was an incredibly expensive bit of equipment at the time, and I think the first front loading machine. I remember Where Eagles Dare was this time being shown as part of a short Eastwood season being shown on BBC Television. The season consisted of 3 movies, starting with A Fistful of Dollars shown on Monday April 13th, Where Eagles Dare the following week on April 20th, and For a Few Dollars More concluding the season on Monday 27th April. April was my birthday month and birthday money was going towards the deposit on the Video cassette recorder – but I just couldn’t get it together in time – but it was with thanks to a lovely cousin of mine who stepped in and recorded all 3 movies for me on some brand new E-180 Scotch tapes. At last, I owned 3 great Eastwood movies, mine to watch, anytime I wished, it was the beginning of a new era! 

In preparing this little journey down memory lane, I pulled the old April 1981 edition of the Clint Eastwood Appreciation Society magazine – only to find full confirmation of these dates, thanks to our good friend Dave Turner who put these vital publications together for us back in the day, they truly were a lifeline. 

It’s funny how 1979 was such a significant year, it was also around this time, as a 15-year-old kid that I starting to attend film fairs – a pathway which began this crazy world of collecting memorabilia. Perhaps it was fate, but the very first 10” x 8” still I ever bought was… yes, from Where Eagles Dare, a simple shot of Clint and Burton in the snow during the shooting of the movie – what I paid for it now escape me, but if it was more than 20p I’d be a little surprised. Great years and great memories.  

Below: The first b/w glossy I ever bought

Monday 22 April 2024

Coming Soon: Michal Talarek’s New Book

Coming Soon: Michal Talarek’s New Book
I wanted to give a heads up for Michal Talarek’s new book, Clint Eastwood A life on both sides of the Camera. Michal’s book was first published back in 2012, a large and impressive volume, the book was originally printed in Michal’s native Polish. It’s a factor which perhaps limited its full potential, especially in terms of reaching a wider audience. 
I was speaking to Michal (who is a regular reader of the Archive) recently, when he informed me that he has now produced an English translated edition of the book and at the same time extended its contents! I thought this was great news as it is an incredibly researched book and really does deserve to be read. 
Michal kindly sent me an early advance of this beautiful, 500-page, hardback book which arrived at the weekend and I have to say, is a really impressive read. Michal is currently adding some final touches to it and hopes it will be available to tie-in with Clint’s upcoming birthday at the end of May.
Be sure to check back here for the most up-to-date news on this as we will be helping to promote this superbly collated volume and providing links when it is available to order. Michal will also be kindly providing some copies of the book as prizes in a competition we will be running closer to the book's release. I will also provide a fuller overview on the final edition. 
Thank you and congratulations Michal on a really excellent job.

Tom Cruise rumoured to be remaking The Gauntlet for Warner Bros.

Tom Cruise rumoured to be remaking The Gauntlet for Warner Bros.

Thanks to my old friend, and former president of The Clint Eastwood Appreciation Society Dave Turner, rumours are circulating that Tom Cruise is about to remake Clint’s 1977 action thriller, The Gauntlet. 
A few months back the trades announced that Tom Cruise signed a strategic partnership with Warner Bros. to develop and produce original and franchise theatricals for Cruise to star in. At the time, what exactly he was planning to develop remained unknown. 
But the website GIANT FREAKIN ROBOT has reported that Tom Cruise will take over the role originally played by Eastwood in the movie, that of alcoholic Detective Ben Shockley. The original version of The Gauntlet was also directed by Clint Eastwood, but the website’s source also reveals that Christopher McQuarrie will direct the Tom Cruise version. Tom Cruise will, of course, produce as part of his new deal with Warners.
McQuarrie has become Tom Cruise’s go-to director over the years. He directed Tom Cruise on movies like Jack Reacher, The Mummy, and three Mission: Impossible (soon four) movies. Now Christopher McQuarrie is working with Cruise on The Gauntlet. 

Sounds interesting, watch this space. My thanks to Dave Turner and Olly Peden. 

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Frank Frazetta’s early concept artwork for Paint Your Wagon

Frank Frazetta’s early concept artwork for Paint Your Wagon
Our correspondents, Kevin Wilkinson unearthed a rather interesting piece on the artist Frank Frazetta that was new to both me and several other fans. Like myself, I always thought that The Gauntlet was the only Eastwood project that Frazetta had worked on, but apparently this wasn’t the case… 
Frazetta was apparently painting and providing film poster artwork since the mid 60’s.  And we were quite surprised to learn that he had worked on early designs for the musical Paint Your Wagon. While drawing a ‘rough’ (an early concept) for the poster for the 1969 film adaptation of the Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon, Frazetta apparently got fed-up and quit the project. Ron Lesser and Peter Max eventually provided posters for the movie, neither of them producing anything that was remotely similar to the direction that Frazetta had been going. Frazetta had said that Paint Your Wagon was his last movie work, but his memory in terms of dates and details during his career, was proving somewhat varied. Frazetta actually produced the posters for Mrs. Pollifax - Spy (1971), The African Elephant (1971) documentary (unused) and Luana in 1973 and several others in the following years.
By 1977 Frazetta was comfortable financially and without having to paint movie posters and he wasn’t interested in doing any more, no matter who asked. That was until Clint Eastwood called regarding his next film, The Gauntlet. 
Below: Early artwork for Paint Your Wagon

I suppose Frank Frazetta will forever be associated with The Gauntlet’s classic poster. However, it’s great to see an early example of his Paint Your Wagon artwork – sadly, we can only imagine how the final design would have looked.
My thanks to Kevin for finding this piece. 

Saturday 13 April 2024

The Japanese 4k Dollar trilogy screenings

The Japanese 4k Dollar trilogy screenings
I thought I’d put something together here to cover the recent 4K screening of the Dollar trilogy in Japan. The season started in February and is still running in selected theatres through April. The publicity campaign has really been impressive – Japan have completely embraced the 60 years since A Fistful of Dollars was made. 
Below is a specially produced trailer promoting the screenings in Japan.
The posters produced for its publicity campaign have been widely seen around a great deal of major cities. 
Below: A typical Lobby display 
There’s also been some nice official merchandise – such as the Dollar trilogy Tote bag carrying the official logo. I’m not too sure on the availability outside of Japan, but I’m pretty sure they will appear on certain auction sites such as Ebay over time. There was also a special film program - "Ennio Morricone's Complete Films Special Edition: The Dollar Trilogy" Edited and authored in Tokyo by the Ennio Morricone Institute A4 size 68 pages.
There is also a very nice Chirashi produced to celebrate the screening, opening out and double sided, it measures 7.17 inch x 10.12 inch
Visitor first-come, first-served gift
One of the three types of newspaper advertising postcards for the Dollar Trilogy will be presented on a first-come, first-served basis at the theatre. The distribution method differs from theatre to theatre, so please contact each theatre. The free gift consists of a set of three postcards, each with a reproduction of an original newspaper ad for each movie – these are only available whist stock last. 
The official advertising features some very cool shots of Clint taken from For a Few Dollars More 
There is also an official site where screening dates can be checked, the site is of course in Japanese so will need to be translated HERE
My thanks to a friend of the Archive Paul Rowlands – who lives in Japan and was lucky enough to see all 3 movies, and in one sitting! Respect where it's due, I think!  

Thursday 11 April 2024

Mexican Eastwood Vinyl

Mexican Eastwood Vinyl
I had the very good fortune recently to secure these three vary rare 7” vinyl singles from Mexico. Mexican singles are among the hardest to find – and I’m very grateful to a Spanish collector who kindly sold me these beauties. 

Mexican singles are typically packaged much like the Japanese singles, with a wrap around insert rather than a sleeve – the vinyl comes in a generic inner sleeve with the insert wrapped around. They are not as well produced or lavishly presented as the Japanese inserts – the main difference being that the inside of the inserts are blank, rather than pictures and / or lyrics etc. 

Two of these titles, carry both the United Artists and Paramount labels as well as Gamma – which is the Mexican label run by Gamma, S.A., the Mexican affiliate of the Spanish Hispavox, S.A., managed by Tomás Muñoz (later Spanish CBS founder in 1970). 

The Leroy Holmes EP (United Artists / Gamma GX 07 – 511) features his arrangements of Cara A: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly / For a few Dollars More and on Cara B: A Fistful of Dollars / Tara’s theme from Gone with the Wind. The final selection might seem like an unusual choice, but this has been featured on other variations of this same EP. The picture sleeve carries the exceptionally nice artwork which was also used on a U.S. Leroy Holmes LP of the same period. 

The Paint Your Wagon EP (Paramount / Gamma GX 07 – 713) features 4 tracks from the original soundtrack on Cara A: I’m on my way (cast) / and Clint’s I Talk to the Trees. Cara B: features Lee Marvin’s Wand’rin Star / Whoop-Ti-Ay! (cast). The picture insert features the artwork from the U.S. one sheet poster.

The third single is the Hugo Montenegro EP (MKE – 1044) on the Mexican RCA Victor (Orange RCA Victor 1968). The insert carries the LP artwork which has rarely been used on 7” versions. It contains on Cara A: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly / For a Few Dollars More, whist on Cara B: The Ecstasy of Gold / The Vice of Killing. 

All very nice editions. I have also added these to our main guide to collecting Eastwood 7” vinyl found here 

Thursday 4 April 2024

New Morricone For A Fistful Of Westerns LP

New Morricone For A Fistful Of Westerns LP 
I wanted to let fans know about this new release, but held it back for a while until I could try and establish the facts behind these two variations. Sometimes information, especially by retailers is a little hard to nail down, a great many (unfortunately) have very little idea and more interested in trying to make a sale of the LP that they actually hold – asking anything outside of that is often like trying to get blood out of a stone…
Anyway, this rather smart looking LP was released back on February 12th. For A Fistful Of Westerns carries a Cat Number of Vinyl Magic – VMLP255, btf.it – VMLP255 and is pressed in Clear Orange vinyl. This album is an Italian release and can be picked up (around £30) from several retail outlets and auction sites. 
A bit of background regarding the 2 catalogue numbers: When Vinyl Magic ceased as the original partnership in 1998, the label was rebranded as VM 2000 sometime during 1999. At this time all Vinyl Magic brands, stock and licenses got gradually taken over by BTF srl, who later also set up the new label btf.it. Though the name is different, the aim is a continuation of the past activities, focusing mainly on reissues of Italian prog classics as well as newer releases. The label is also at times associated in collaborative releases with other "sister labels" from the company.
When I first heard about this LP, there seemed to be some conflicting information – in general the more popular and more readily available version is the clear orange vinyl edition. However, I also became aware of a seemingly rarer pressing which is a ‘Desert Sand’ coloured vinyl. This edition carries the Cat No btf.it – 8016158025552. Whilst both of these albums are categorised as Limited Editions, it appears that the Desert sand version is a great deal harder to find.
That’s about the best I can come up with in regards to this release, except that it looks very good – using the Eastwood ‘man with no name’ image to the front and back, and of course a great collection of Morricone music.   

Monday 1 April 2024

Photo Opportunity #48

Photo Opportunity #48
For April’s Photo Opportunity I thought we would travel back to 1995 and a great rare shot of Clint alongside actress Meryl Streep. The photo was of course taken during the filming of The Bridges of Madison County. It’s hard to believe that next year marks its 30th Anniversary. The film earned $182 million worldwide and received widespread critical acclaim upon release, with high praise directed towards Streep's performance, earning her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 67th Academy Awards.
Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment bought the film rights to Waller's novel for $25,000 in late 1991, before its publication, by the time of the film's release, the novel sold 9.5 million copies worldwide. Spielberg first asked Sydney Pollack to direct, who got Kurt Luedtke to draft the first version of the adaptation but then bowed out; Ronald Bass was brought in by Kathleen Kennedy and Spielberg to work on the script, but they were unsatisfied with the results. But a third draft by Richard LaGravenese was liked by Eastwood, who quite early had been cast for the male lead, and by Spielberg, who liked LaGravenese's version enough to consider making Bridges his next film after Schindler's List (1993), which was in post-production at the time. Both men liked that LaGravenese's script presented the story from Francesca's point of view; Spielberg then had LaGravenese introduce the framing device of having Francesca's adult children discover and read her diaries. When Spielberg decided not to direct, he then brought in Bruce Beresford, who got Alfred Uhry to draft another version of the script; when Warner Bros, Spielberg, and Eastwood all preferred LaGravenese's draft, Beresford dropped out.

Catherine Deneuve and Isabella Rossellini did screen tests to play Francesca. But despite Spielberg's initial reluctance, Eastwood had advocated Meryl Streep for the role from the beginning. 
This great shot of Clint and Meryl was taken during location shooting in Madison County, Iowa and finds them both in relaxed mood.