Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books

Monday, September 27, 2010

Clint Eastwood Cover Gallery: 1960s

In late 1963, an offer was made to Eastwood's co-star Eric Fleming on Rawhide to star in an Italian made western, originally to be named The Magnificent Stranger (A Fistful of Dollars) to be directed in a remote region of Spain by a relative unknown at the time, Sergio Leone. However, the money was not much, and Fleming always set his sights high on Hollywood stardom, and rejected the offer immediately. A variety of actors, including Charles Bronson, Steve Reeves, Richard Harrison, Frank Wolfe, Henry Fonda, James Coburn and Ty Hardin were considered for the main part in the film, and the producers established a list of lesser-known American actors, and asked the aforementioned Richard Harrison for advice. Harrison had suggested Clint Eastwood, whom he knew could play a cowboy convincingly. Harrison later said: "Maybe my greatest contribution to cinema was not doing Fistful of Dollars, and recommending Clint for the part".

Leone had watched Rawhide upon the advice of Claudia Sartori, an agent working at the William Morris Agency in Rome, and he watched Episode 91, Incident of the Black Sheep, dubbed into Italian. Leone was intended to focus on Fleming but found himself entirely distracted in looking at Eastwood. Leone said, "What fascinated me about Clint, above all, was his external appearance. I noticed the lazy, laidback way he just came on and stole every single scene from Fleming. His laziness is what came over so clearly." However, Leone's claim that he was entirely distracted by watching Eastwood is somewhat contradicted by the fact he was urged by Sartori to rewatch the episode after Fleming turned down the part and to concentrate on Eastwood.

Through Irving Leonard, the offer was made to Eastwood. However, Ruth Marsh of the Marsh Agency that had supported Clint since the 1950s and his wife Maggie conspired to manoeuvre past Leonard, when he had refused the funds to provide a reel of Eastwood in Rawhide to the Italian producers. They sent a reel to Jolly Film and the agent Filippo Fortini who she had agency contacts with via actor Philippe Hersent, who was the husband of writer Geneviève Hersent and the Italian intermediary of the Marsh Agency. Eastwood initially thought the same as Fleming had, after all he was already in a Western and tired of it, and wanted to take months off playing golf and relaxing. However he was urged to read the script; a lone stranger rides into a Mexican frontier town controlled and fought over by two gangs and double-crosses them by playing them off against each other whilst accepting money from both sides. After just ten pages, Eastwood recognised that it was based on Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo. Eastwood had initially described the dialogue as "atrocious" but thought the storyline was an intelligent one. Seeing potential, Irving Leonard cut Fortini out of the deal, so that the William Morris Agency would receive credit. The agreement offered Clint $15,000, an air ticket and paid expenses for 11 weeks of filming. Eastwood saw it as an opportunity to escape Rawhide and the States and saw it as a paid vacation and signed the contract which also threw in a bonus of a Mercedes automobile upon completion.

Never meeting Leone in advance, Eastwood arrived in Rome in May 1964 and was met by the Marsh agency contact there, writer Geneviève Hersent rather than Fortini, Leone's assistants and a few journalists. Eastwood met Leone later that day upon which he had shown distaste for his all-American style of dress but had been more impressed with meeting him in the flesh than seeing him on TV. Leone recollected, "Clint arrived, dressed with exactly the same bad taste as American students. I didn't care. It was his face and his way of walking that I was interested in". Eastwood was instrumental in creating the Man With No Name character's distinctive visual style that would appear throughout the Dollars trilogy. He had brought with him the black jeans he had purchased from a shop on Hollywood Boulevard which he had bleached out and roughened up, the hat from a Santa Monica wardrobe firm, a leather bracelet and two Indian leather cases with two serpents, and the trademark black cigars came from a Beverly Hills shop, though Eastwood himself is a non-smoker and hated the smell of cigar smoke. Leone decided to use them in the film and heavily emphasized the "look" of the mysterious stranger to appear in the film. Leone commented, "The truth is that I needed a mask more than an actor, and Eastwood at the time only had two facial expressions: one with the hat, and one without it". Eastwood said about playing the Man With No Name character in the film,

    "I wanted to play it with an economy of words and create this whole feeling through attitude and movement. It was just the kind of character I had envisioned for a long time, keep to the mystery and allude to what happened in the past. It came about after the frustration of doing Rawhide for so long. I felt the less he said the stronger he became and the more he grew in the imagination of the audience."

The first interiors for the film were shot at the Cinecittà studio on the outskirts of Rome, before quickly moving to a small village in Andalucia, Spain in an area which had also been used for filming Lawrence of Arabia (1962) just a few years earlier. This would become a benchmark in the development of the spaghetti westerns, and Leone would successfully create a new icon of a western hero, depicting a more lawless and desolate world than in traditional westerns. The trilogy would also redefine the stereotypical American image of a western hero and cowboy, creating a character gunslinger and bounty hunter which was more of an anti hero than a hero and with a distinct moral ambiguity, unlike traditional heroes of western cinema in the United States such as John Wayne.

Since the film was an Italian/German/Spanish co-production, there was a major language barrier on the set. Eastwood communicated with the Italian cast and crew mostly through stuntman Benito Stefanelli, who acted as an interpreter for the production. The cast and crew stayed on location in Spain for nearly eleven weeks, during which Eastwood's wife Maggie came over for a visit and found time to take a break in Toledo, Segovia and Madrid and regularly read Time magazine.

Promoting A Fistful of Dollars was difficult given that no major distributor wanted to take chance on a faux-Western and an unknown director and the film ended up being released in September which is typically the worst month for sales. The film was shunned by the Italian critics who gave it extremely negative reviews. However, at a grassroots level its popularity spread and would end up grossing $4 million in Italy, about three billion lire and American critics felt quite differently to their Italian counterparts, with Variety praising it as, "a James Bondian vigor and tongue-in-cheek approach that was sure to capture both sophisticates and average cinema patrons". The release of the film was delayed in the United States because distributors feared being sued by Kurosawa, and as a result it was not shown in American cinemas until 1967. This made it difficult for the American public or other people in Hollywood to understand what was happening to Clint in Italy at the time and for an American actor making films in Italy it was met with considerable prejudice and seen in Hollywood as taking a step backward rather than a career development.

A Fistful of Dollars by Frank Chandler
Tandem 6402-X, (Mar) 1972, 157pp, 25p. Cover by Chris Achilleos
Tandem 14023-0, 1977, 157pp, 60p. Cover by Chris Achilleos
Star 14023-0, [c.1980]. Cover by Chris Achilleos

Leone hired Eastwood to star in his second film of what would become a trilogy, For a Few Dollars More  (1965). Leone was convinced that Jolly Film were withholding his share of the profits and sued them and joined forces with producer Alberto Grimaldi who founded the Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA) film company. The company gave Leone a larger $350,000 budget to make the next film. Screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni was brought in to write the script which he wrote in nine days; two bounty hunters (Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef) pursuing a drug-addicted criminal (Volontè), planning to rob an impregnable bank.  Eastwood was given $50,000 in advance and a first-class plane ticket but was not looking forward to having the cigar in his mouth again which at times made him feel sick during the first film. For a Few Dollars More was shot in the spring and summer of 1965 and again interiors of the film were shot at the Cinecittà studio in Rome before they moved to Spain again. During the filming Eastwood became close friends with screenwriter Vincenzoni and enjoyed his Italian cooking and attracted a lot of attention from his female guests. Vincenzoni was very important in bringing the films to the States, given that he was fluent in English and accompanied Leone to a cinema in Rome to show the new film after completion to United Artist executives Arthur Krim and Arnold Picker. He made an agreement with them, who showed much excitement by the film, and sold the rights to the film and the third film (which was yet to be written let alone made) in advance in the States for $900,000, advancing $500,000 up front and the right to half of the profits.

As trouble brewed with Rawhide back in the United States as Eric Fleming quit the series (which lasted just thirteen more episodes without him) and faced increasing competition from the new World War II series Combat! which eventually led to the demise of the series in January 1966, Eastwood met with producer Dino De Laurentiis in New York City and agreed to star in a non-Western five-part anthology production named Le Streghe or The Witches opposite his wife, actress Silvana Mangano. Eastwood travelled to Rome in late February 1966 and accepted the fee of $20,000 and a new Ferrari. Acclaimed director Vittorio De Sica was hired to direct Eastwood's segment, called A Night Like Any Other, which is only nineteen minutes long and involves Clint playing a lazy husband stuck in a stale marriage who refuses to go and see A Fistful of Dollars in the cinema with his wife and would rather stay home. Meanwhile his wife dreams of having a fit, active husband who dances like Fred Astaire and is fantastic at making love. Eastwood's installment only took a few days to shoot and was not met well with critics, who described it as "no other performance of his is quite so 'un-Clintlike' ", with the New York Times disparaging it as a "throwaway De Sica". Following this, Eastwood went to Paris to promote the premiere of A Few Dollars More with De Sica and was already becoming very popular in France and labeled as the "new Gary Cooper". In Paris he met Pierre Rissient and had an affair with Catherine Deneuve, a blond actress known for her nouvelle vague films.

For a Few Dollars More by Joe Millard (New York, Award, 1967)
Tandem T124, 1967, 3/6. *Award.
Tandem 6699-5, (cy1968) 1972, 159pp, 25p.
Tandem 14007-9, [2nd imp.] 1977, 159pp, 60p. Cover by Chris Achilleos.
Star 14007-9, [3rd imp.] 1978, 159pp, 60p. Cover by Chris Achilleos

Two months later Eastwood began working on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the final film of the Dollars trilogy, in which he again played the mysterious Man With No Name character. Lee Van Cleef was brought in again to play a ruthless fortune seeker, while Eli Wallach, a character actor noted for his appearance in The Magnificent Seven (1960), was hired to play the cunning Mexican bandit "Tuco", although the role was originally written for Volontè, who passed on working with Leone again. The three become involved in a search for a buried cache of confederate gold buried in a cemetery by a man named Jackson, in hiding as Bill Carson. Eastwood was not initially pleased with the script and was concerned he might be upstaged by Wallach, and said to Leone, "In the first film I was alone. In the second, we were two. Here we are three. If it goes on this way, in the next one I will be starring with the American cavalry". As Eastwood played hard-to-get in accepting the role (inflating his earnings up to $250,000, another Ferrari and 10% of the profits in the United States when eventually released there), Eastwood was again encountering publicist disputes between Ruth Marsh, who urged him to accept the third film of the trilogy, and the William Morris Agency and Irving Leonard, who were unhappy with Marsh's influence on Clint. Eastwood banished Marsh from having any further influence in his career and he was forced to sack her as his business manager via a letter sent by Frank Wells. For some time after, Eastwood's publicity was handled by Jerry Pam of Gutman and Pam.

Filming began at the Cinecittà studio in Rome again in mid-May 1966, including the opening scene between Clint and Wallach when The Man With No Name captures Tuco for the first time and sends him to jail. The production then moved on to Spain's plateau region near Burgos in the north, which would double for the extreme deep south of the United States, and again shot the western scenes in Almeria in the south. This time the production required more elaborate sets, including a town under cannon fire, an extensive prison camp and an American Civil War battlefield; and for the climax, several hundred Spanish soldiers were employed to build a cemetery with several thousand grave stones to resemble an ancient Roman circus. Top Italian cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli was brought in the shoot the film and was prompted by Leone to pay more attention to light than in the previous two films; Ennio Morricone composed the score once again. Leone was instrumental in asking Morricone to compose a track for the final Mexican stand-off scene in the cemetery, asking him to compose what felt like "the corpses were laughing from inside their tombs", and asked Delli Colli to creating a hypnotic whirling effect interspersed with dramatic extreme close ups, to give the audience the impression of a visual ballet.

Wallach and Eastwood flew to Madrid together and between shooting scenes, Eastwood would relax and practice his golf swing. One day, during the filming of the scene in which the bridge is blown up with dynamite, Eastwood, suspicious of explosives, urged his co-star Wallach to retreat up to the hilltop, saying, "I know about these things. Stay as far away from special effects and explosives as you can". Just minutes later, crew confusion over saying "Vaya!" which was meant to be the signal for the explosion but that a crew member had said without thinking to turn the cameras on, resulted in a premature explosion, resulting in the bridge having to be rebuilt. The bridge was rebuilt for free by the Spanish army, that gallantly assumed responsibility, but the expense of redoing the scene and other costs resulted in the cost of making the film exceeding the budget by $300,000.

By the end of the film Eastwood had finally had enough of Leone's perfectionist directorial traits, who, often forcefully, insisted on shooting scenes from many different angles, paying attention to the most minute of details; which would often exhaust the actors. Leone, a glutton, was also a source of amusement for his excesses, and Eastwood found a way to deal with the stresses of being directed by him by making jokes about him and nicknamed him "Yosemite Sam" for his bad temperament. Eastwood would never be directed by Leone again, later turning down the role as Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) in which Leone had personally flown to Los Angeles to give him the script for, which eventually went to Charles Bronson. Years later, Leone would exact his revenge upon Clint during the filming of Once Upon a Time in America (1984) when he described Eastwood's abilities as an actor as being like a block of marble or wax and inferior to the acting abilities of Robert De Niro, saying, "Eastwood moves like a sleepwalker between explosions and hails of bullets, and he is always the same - a block of marble. Bobby first of all is an actor, Clint first of all is a star. Bobby suffers, Clint yawns."

The Dollars trilogy was not shown in the United States until 1967. A Fistful of Dollars opened in January, For a Few Dollars More in May and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in December 1967. Some twenty minutes however were cut from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, particularly many of the scenes involving Lee Van Cleef, although Eastwood's remained intact. The trilogy was publicised as James Bond-type entertainment and all films were successful in American cinemas and turned Eastwood into a major film star in 1967, particularly the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly which eventually collected $8 million in rental earnings. However, upon release, all three were generally given bad reviews by critics (despite the select few American critics who had seen the films in Italy previously having a positive outlook) and marked the beginning of Eastwood's battle to win the respect of American film critics. Judith Crist described A Fistful of Dollars as "cheapjack" while Newsweek described For a Few Dollars More as "excruciatingly dopey". The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was similarly panned by most critics upon US release with Renata Adler of the New York Times describing it as "the most expensive, pious and repellent movie in the history of its peculiar genre". Variety commented that it is "a curious amalgam of the visually striking, the dramatically feeble and the offensively sadistic". However while Time highlighted the wooden acting, especially Eastwood's, critics such as Vincent Canby and Bosley Crowther of the New York Times were highly praising of Eastwood's coolness playing the tall, lone stranger; and Leone's unique style of cinematography was widely acclaimed, even by some critics who disliked the acting.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Joseph Millard (New York, Award, 1967)
Tandem T173, 1967, 160pp, 3/6. *Award. [FC: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach]
——, 2nd imp.
——, 3rd imp., 4/-. *Award? [diff. cover to 1st]
Tandem 6701, 1972.
Tandem 13995-X, [2nd imp.] 1977, 159pp, 60p. Cover by Chris Achilleos
——, 3rd imp., 1977; 4th imp., 1977; 5th imp., 1978.
Star 30739-0, 1980, £1.25. Cover by Chris Achilleos

Eastwood spent much of late 1966 and 1967 dubbing for the English-language version of the films and being interviewed, something which left him feeling angry and frustrated. Stardom brought more roles in the "tough guy" mold and Irving Leornard gave him a script to a new film, the American revisionist western Hang 'Em High, across between Rawhide and Leone's westerns, written by Mel Goldberg and produced by Leornard Freeman. However, the William Morris Agency had wanted him to star in a bigger picture, Mackenna's Gold with a cast of notable actors such as Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif and Telly Savalas. Eastwood, however, did not approve and preferred the script for Hang 'Em High  but had one complaint which he voiced to the producers; the scene before the first hanging, where the hero is attacked by the enemies. Eastwood believed that the scene would not be suitable in a saloon and they eventually agreed to introduce a whore scene in which the attack takes place afterwards as Eastwood enters the bar. Eastwood signed for the film with a salary of $400,000 and 25% of the net earnings to the film, playing the character of Cooper, a man accused by vigilantes of a cow baron's murder and lynched and left for dead and later seeks revenge.

With the wealth generated by the Dollars trilogy, Leonard helped set up a new production company for Eastwood, Malpaso Productions, something he had long yearned for and was named after a river on Eastwood's property in Monterey County. Leonard became the company's president and arranged for Hang 'Em High to be a joint production with United Artists. Directors Robert Aldrich and John Strurges were considered for the director's helm, but on the request of Eastwood, old friend Ted Post was brought in to direct, against the wishes of producer Leonard Freeman, who Eastwood had urged away. Post was important in casting for the film and arranged for Inger Stevens of The Farmer's Daughter fame to play the role of Rachel Warren and had not heard of Eastwood or Sergio Leone at the time but instantly took a liking to Clint and accepted. Pat Hingle, Dennis Hopper, Ed Begley, Bruce Dern and James MacArthur were also cast and filming began in June 1967 in the Las Cruces area of New Mexico. Additional scenes were shot at White Sands and in the interiors were shot in MGM studios. Eastwood had considerable leeway in the production, especially in the script which was altered in parts such as the dialogue and setting of the barroom scene to his liking. The film became a major success after release in July 1968 and with an opening day revenue of $5,241 in Baltimore alone, it became the biggest United Artists opening in history, exceeding all of the James Bond films at that time. It debuted at number five on Variety's weekly survey of top films and had made its money back within two weeks of screening. It was widely praised by critics including Arthur Winsten of the New York Post who described Hang 'Em High as "A Western of quality, courage, danger and excitement".

Hang 'Em High by Leonard Freeman & Mel Goldbert (New York, Popular Library 60-8071, 1968)
No UK edition traced. The US edition was probably distributed in the UK.

Meanwhile, before Hang 'Em High had been released, Eastwood had set to work on Coogan's Bluff, a project which saw him reunite with Universal Studios after an offer of $1 million, more than doubling his previous salary. Jennings Lang was responsible for the deal, a former agent of a director called Don Siegel, a Universal contract director who was invited to direct Eastwood's second major American film. Eastwood was not familiar with Siegel's work but Lang arranged for them to meet at Clint's residence in Carmel. Eastwood had now seen three of Siegel's earlier films and was impressed with his directing and the two became natural friends, forming a close partnership in the years that followed. The idea for Coogan's Bluff originated in early 1967 as a TV series and the first draft was drawn up by Herman Miller and Jack Laird, screenwriters for Rawhide. It is about a character called Sheriff Walt Coogan, a lonely deputy sheriff working in New York City.

After Siegel and Eastwood had agreed to work together, Howard Rodman and three other writers were hired to devise a new script as the new team scouted for locations including New York and the Mojave desert. However, Eastwood surprised the team one day by calling an abrupt meeting and professed to strongly disliked the script, which by now had gone through seven drafts, preferring Herman Miller's original concept. This experience would also shape Eastwood's distaste for redrafting scripts in his later career. Eastwood and Siegel decided to hire a new writer, Dean Riesner, who had written for Siegel in the Henry Fonda TV film Stranger on the Run some years previously. As Riesner drew up a new script, Eastwood was unwilling to communicate with the screenwriter until one day, Riesner criticized one of the scenes which Eastwood had liked which involved Coogan having sex with a girl called Linny Raven in the hope that she would take him to her boyfriend. According to Riesner, Eastwood's "face went white and gave me one of those Clint looks". The two soon reconciled their differences and worked on a script in which Eastwood had considerable input, while Don Stroud was cast as the psychopathic criminal Coogan is chasing, Lee J. Cobb as the disagreeable New York City Police Department lieutenant, Susan Clark as a probation officer who falls for Coogan and Tisha Sterling playing the drug addicted lover of Don Stroud's character. Filming began in November 1967 even before the full script had been finalized. The film was controversial for its portrayal of violence, but it had launched a collaboration between Eastwood and Siegel that lasted more than ten years, and set the prototype for the macho hero that Eastwood would play in the Dirty Harry films.

Coogan's Bluff
No novel or novelisation.

Eastwood was paid $850,000 in 1968 for the war epic Where Eagles Dare opposite Richard Burton. However, Eastwood initially expressed that the script drawn up by Alistair Mclean was "terrible" and was "all exposition and complications". The film was about a World War II squad parachuting into a Gestapo stronghold in the mountains, reachable only by cable car, with Burton playing the squad's commander and Eastwood his right-hand man. He was also cast as Two-Face in the Batman television series, but the series was cancelled before he played the part.

Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean (London, Collins, 19
Fontana 1961, 1969, 159pp, 5/-. [FC: Richard Burton]
——, 20th imp., Sep 1974.
One winter night seven men and a girl are parachuted on to a mountainside in wartime Germany. Their objective? An apparently inaccessible castle, headquarters of the Gestapo, to which a crashed VIP American general has been taken for interrogation. Or is this audacious rescue the sole reason for the expedition?
__Where Eagles Dare has all the ingenuity, physical excitement (literally, this time) cliff-hanging suspense that one has come to expect from a top-flight Alistair MacLean
In 1969, Eastwood branched out by starring in his only musical, Paint Your Wagon. He and fellow non-singer Lee Marvin played gold miners who share the same wife (played by Jean Seberg). Production for the film was plagued with bad weather and delays and the future of the director's career (Joshua Logan) was in doubt. It was extremely high budget for this period and eventually exceeded $20 million. Although the film received mixed reviews, it was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Paint Your Wagon by George Scullin (New York, Macfadden 75-304, 1969)
No UK edition traced. The US edition was probably distributed in the UK.

Shortly before Christmas 1969, Eastwood's long time business manager Irving Leonard died aged 53 and came as a shock and was replaced as Malpaso by an old friend. Bob Daley became important in production and under the terms of Leonard's will, Roy Kaufman and Howard Bernstein would assume responsibility of the company finances.

(* The main body text for this column is from the Wikipedia article "Clint Eastwood in the 1960s", accessed 23 September 2010 (last modified 16 August 2010).Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.)

No comments: