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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Clint Eastwood Cover Gallery: 1970s part 1

In 1970, Eastwood starred in the western, Two Mules for Sister Sara with Shirley MacLaine. The film, directed by Siegel, is a story about an American mercenary who gets mixed up with a whore disguised as a nun and aid a group of Juarista rebels during the puppet reign of Emperor Maximilian in Mexico. The story was initially written by Budd Boetticher, who was later sacked and replaced with Albert Maltz to revise the script. The film saw Eastwood embody the tall mysterious stranger once more, unshaven, wearing a serape-like vest and smoking a cigar and the film score was composed by Morricone. Although the film had Leonesque dirty Hispanic villains, the film was considerably less crude and more sardonic than those of Leone. The role of Sister Sara was initially offered to Elizabeth Taylor during the filming of Where Eagles Dare  (Taylor then being the wife of Richard Burton) but had to turn down the role because she wanted to shoot in Spain where Burton was filming his latest movie. Although Sister Sara was supposed to be Mexican, they eventually cast Shirley MacLaine although they were initially unconvinced with her pale complexion.  Both Siegel and Eastwood felt intimidated by her onset, and Siegel described Clint's co-star as, "It's hard to feel any great warmth to her. She's too unfeminine and has too much balls. She's very, very hard." Two Mules for Sister Sara  marked the last time that Eastwood would receive second billing for a film and it would be 25 years until he risked being overshadowed by a leading lady again in The Bridges of Madison County (1995). The film, which took four months to shoot and cost around $4 million to make, received moderate reviews, and Roger Greenspun of the New York Times  reported, "I'm not sure it is a great movie, but it is very good and it stays and grows on the mind the way only movies of exceptional narrative intelligence do". Stanley Kauffman described the film as "an attempt to keep old Hollywood alive- a place where nuns can turn out to be disguised whores, where heroes can always have a stick of dynamite under their vests, where every story has not one but two cute finishes. Its kind of The African Queen gone west". The New York Times in its book, The New York Times Guide to the Best 1000 Movies Ever Made included Two Mules for Sister Sara in its top 1000 films of all time.

Two Mules for Sister Sara
No novel of novelisation.

Later in 1970 he appeared in the World War II movie, Kelly's Heroes with Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas. The film, which stars Eastwood as one of a group of Americans who steal a fortune in bullion from the Nazis, combined tough-guy action with offbeat humor. It was the last non-Malpaso film that Clint agreed to appear in. The filming commenced in July 1969 and was shot on location in Yugoslavia and London. Directed by Brian G. Hutton, the film involved hundreds of extras and dangerous special effects. The climax to the film echoes that of his Dollars films when he advances in lockstep on a German tiger tank on the street of a small European town, with a Morricone-esque soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin. The film received mostly a positive reception and its anti-war sentiments were recognized. The film has a respectable 83% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Kelly's Heroes by Burt Hirschfeld (New York, Lancer, 1970)
Sphere 07221-4567-5, 1970, 142pp, 25p. [FC: Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Gavin MacLeod et al]
15 million in Nazi gold.
Kelly took a gold bar from the attache case and dropped it on the Crapgame's papers. The seamy little man stared at it, then picked up the phone and cranked.
__"Get me a quotation on the Paris gold market." His voice was crisp and business-like. He eyed Kelly. "How much more where this came from?"
__"Four thousand bars."
__"And where is all this gold?"
__"In a bank. In a bank behind enemy lines."
__A look of bliss came over Crapgame's face.
__"That," he said with quiet respect, "could be the perfect crime."
In the winter of 1969-70, Eastwood and Siegel began planning his next film, The Beguiled. Jennings Lang was inspired by the 1966 novel by Thomas Cullinan  and in passing the book to Eastwood he was engrossed throughout the night in reading the tale of a wounded Union soldier held captive by the sexually repressed matron of a southern girls' school. This was the first of several films where Eastwood has agreed to storylines where he is the centre of female attention, including minors. Albert Maltz, who had worked on Two Mules for Sister Sara was brought in to draft the script, but disagreements in the end led to a revision of the script by Claude Traverse, who although uncredited, led to Maltz being credited under a pseudonym. The film, according to Siegel, deals with the themes of sex, violence and vengeance and was based around, "the basic desire of women to castrate men". Jeanne Moreau  was considered for the role of the domineering headmistress Martha Farnsworth, but in the end the role went to acclaimed Broadway actress Geraldine Page, and actresses Elizabeth Hartman, Jo Ann Harris, Darlene Carr, Mae Mercer and Pamelyn Ferdin were cast in supporting roles. The film received major recognition in France, and was proposed by Pierre Rissient to the Cannes Film Festival, and while agreed to by Eastwood and Siegel, the producers declined. It would be widely screened in France later and is considered one of Eastwood's finest works by the French. Although the film reached number two on Variety's chart of top grossing films, it was poorly marketed and in the end grossed less than $1 million, earning over four times less than Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song did at the same time and falling to below 50 in the charts within two weeks of release. According to Eastwood and Jennings Lang, the film, aside from being poorly publicized, flopped due to Clint being "emasculated in the film". Eastwood said of his role in The Beguiled,

    "Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino play losers very well. But my audience like to be in there vicariously with a winner. That isn't always popular with critics. My characters have sensitivity and vulnerabilities, but they're still winners. I don't pretend to understand losers. When I read a script about a loser I think of people in life who are losers and they seem to want it that way. It's a compulsive philosophy with them. Winners tell themselves, I'm as bright as the next person. I can do it. Nothing can stop me."

On July 21, 1970, Eastwood's father died of a heart attack, unexpectedly at the age of 64. It came as a shock to Eastwood as his grandfather had lived to 92 and had a profound impact on Eastwood's life, described by Fritz Manes as "the only bad thing that ever happened to him in his life". From this moment he viewed by others as less lazy than previously, and had a greater sense of urgency on set and retains this speed and efficiency onset to this day. Although Eastwood had always been into health and fitness, he became increasingly so after his father's death, refusing to drink hard liquor (although he still regularly drank cold beer and opened up a pub called the Hog Breath's Inn in Carmel in 1971) and adopting a rigorous health regime and seeking out remedies to stay looking youthful.

The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan (New York, Horizon Press, 1966)
Sphere 07221-2719-7, 1971, 416pp.

1971 proved to be a professional turning point in Eastwood's career. Before Irving Leonard had died, the last film they had discussed at Malpaso was to give Eastwood the artistic control that he desired and make his directorial debut in Play Misty for Me. The script was originally thought of by Jo Heims, a former model and dancer turned secretary and was polished off by Dean Riesner. Heim's story involves a jazz disc jockey named Dave (Eastwood) who has a casual affair with Evelyn (Jessica Walter), one of his listeners who had been calling the radio station repeatedly at night asking him to play her favourite song, Erroll Garner's Misty. When Dave ends their relationship the female fan becomes possessive and then violent, turning into a crazed murderess. The idea of another lover's interest with a level-headed girlfriend Tobie added to the plot was a suggestion by Sonia Chernus, an editor who had originally been there when Eastwood initially was spotted for Rawhide. The storyline was originally set in Los Angeles, but under Eastwood's insistence, the film was shot in the more comfortable surroundings of the Carmel area, where he could shoot scenes at the local radio station, bars and restaurants and at friends' houses. Filming commenced in Monterey in September 1970 and although this was Eastwood's debut, Siegel stood by and frequent collaborators of Siegel's, such as cinematographer Bruce Surtees, editor Carl Pingitoire and composer Dee Barton, made up part of the filming team. The rights to the song Misty were obtained after Eastwood saw Garner at the Concord Music Festival in 1970 and he later paid $2,000 for the use of the song The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack.

Meticulous planning and efficient directorship by Eastwood saw the film fall nearly $50,000 short of its $1 million budget and the film was completed four or five days ahead of schedule. Rissient successfully arranged for Play Misty for Me to premiere in October 1971 and for it to premiere at the San Francisco Film Festival and is was widely released in the November. The film was highly acclaimed by critics, with critics such as Jay Cocks in Time, Andrew Sarris in the Village Voice and Archer Winsten in the New York Post all praising Eastwood's directorial skills and the film, including his performance in the scenes with Walter.

Play Misty for Me by Paul J. Gillette (New York, Award Books, 1971)
Tandem, 1972
Star 0352-30273-9, 1978
——, 2nd imp., 1980, 152pp, 85p.
The trap is baited... A beautiful, lonely, possessive girl; a successful popular disc-jockey.
__The trap is set... A night of casual lust--no complications, no strings attached.
__The trap begins to close... Jealousy and revenge boil over in a nightmare of terror.
The script to Dirty Harry was originally written by Harry Julian and Rita M. Fink, a story about a hard-edged New York City police inspector Harry Callahan, determined to stop a psychotic killer by any means at his disposal. The script was presented to Eastwood by Jennings Lang and the rights to the film were bought by Warner Brothers. Irving Kershner was originally intended as director as was Frank Sinatra  to play the character but he had reportedly grown unhappy with the script, although withdrew officially because of a hand injury. While Play Misty for Me was attractive to Eastwood, "by the sadness of the character", he signed up for Dirty Harry and this was reported in the press in December 1970 that Malpaso would be producing the film in a joint venture with Warner Brothers. Many locations in the script were altered and moved to San Francisco. One evening Eastwood and Siegel had been watching the San Francisco 49ers in the Kezar Stadium in the last game of the season and thought the eerie Greek amphitheatre  like setting would be an excellent location for shooting one of the scenes where Callahan encounters the psychopathic killer Scorpio. A railway trestle crossing over Sir Francis Drake Boulevard would be used in the finale. Andrew Robinson, who Eastwood had seen in a play called Subject to Fits was cast as the killer Scorpio, whose unkept appearance fit the bill for a mentally ill hippie. Past collaborators Surtees, Pingitore and Schifrin were once again hired, with Schifrin composing many of the jazz tracks to the film. Glenn Wright, Eastwood's costume designer since Rawhide was responsible for creating Callahan's distinctive old-fashioned brown and yellow checked jacket to emphasise his strong values in pursuing crime. Filming for Dirty Harry began in April 1971 and involved some risky stunts, with much footage shot at night and filming the city of San Francisco aerially which the film series is renowned for. Dirty Harry is arguably Eastwood's most memorable character and the lines that Callahan utters when addressing a wounded bank robber are often cited amongst the most memorable in cinematic history:

"I know what you're thinking — 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But, being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"

The film has been credited with inventing the "loose-cannon cop genre" that is imitated to this day. Eastwood's tough, no-nonsense portrayal of Dirty Harry touched a cultural nerve with many who were fed up with crime in the streets. The film was released at a time when throughout 1970 and 1971 there were prevalent reports of local and federal police committing atrocities and overstepping their authority by entrapment and obstruction of justice. America needed a hero, a winner at a time when the authorities were losing the battle against crime. After release in December 1971, Dirty Harry proved a phenomenal success which would be go on to become Siegel's highest grossing film and the start of a series of films which is arguably Eastwood's signature role, with fans demanding more. Although a number of critics such as Jay Cocks of Time praised his performance as Dirty Harry, describing him as "giving his best performance so far, tense, tough, full of implicit identification with his character", the film was widely criticized and accused of fascism through Eastwood's portrayal of the ruthless cop. Feminists in particular were outraged by the film and at the Oscars for 1971 protested outside holding up banners which read messages such as "Dirty Harry is a Rotten Pig". Many critics expressed concern with what they saw as bigotry, with Newsweek describing the film as "a right-wing fantasy", Variety as "a specious, phony glorification of the police and police brutality with a superhero whose antics become almost satire" and a raging review by Pauline Kael of The New Yorker who accused Eastwood of a "single-minded attack against liberal values". Several people accused him of racism in the decision to cast four African-Americans as the bank robbers. Eastwood dismissed the political outrage, claiming that Callahan was just obeying a higher moral authority, and said, "some people are so politically oriented, when they see cornflakes in a bowl, they get some complex interpretation out of it".

Dirty Harry by Philip Rock (New York, Bantam, 1971)
Star 0352-30099-X, 1977, 136pp, 60p.
——, 2nd imp., 1977; 3rd imp., 1978.
——, 4th imp., 1980, 136pp, 95p.
——, 5th imp., 1980, 95p; [6th?] imp., [c.1980], £1.25.
To the city of San Francisco.
__I will enjoy killing one person every day until you pay me $100,000. If you agree say so within 48 hours in personal column San Francisco Chronicle and I will set up meeting. If I do not hear from you it will be my next pleasure to kill a Catholic priest or a nigger.
An anonymous sniper who kills by the stars, and a ruthless cop determined to track him down before the streets of San Francisco run with blood. The city would erupt into an orgy of killings if Dirty Harry didn't find the marksman first.
Eastwood next starred in the loner Western Joe Kidd, released in 1972. He was given the script by Jennings Lang, written by novelist Elmore Leonard. Originally called The Sinola Courthouse Raid, it was about a character inspired by Reies Lopez Tijerina, an ardent supporter of Robert F. Kennedy, known for storming a courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico  in an incident in June 1967, taking hostages and demanding that the Hispanic people be granted their ancestral lands back to them. Leonard depicted Tijerina in his story, a man he named Luis Chama, as an egomaniac, a role which went to John Saxon. Robert Duvall  was cast as Frank Harlan, a ruthless land owner who hires Eastwood's character, a former frontier guide named Joe Kidd, to track down the culprits and scare them away. Don Stroud, who Eastwood had starred alongside in Coogan's Bluff, was cast as another sour villain who encounters Joe Kidd. Under the director's helm of John Sturges, who had directed acclaimed westerns such as The Magnificent Seven (1960), filming began in Old Tucson in November 1971, overlapping with another film production, John Huston's The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, which was just wrapping up shooting. Outdoor sequences to the film were shot near June Lake, east of the Yosemite National Park.

The actors were initially uncertain with the strength of the three main characters in the film and how the hero Joe Kidd would come across.

According to writer Leonard, the initial slow development between the three was probably because the cast were so initially awestruck by having Sturges direct that they surrendered authority to him. Eastwood was far from in perfect health during the film and suffered symptoms that relayed the possibility of a bronchial infection and suffered several panic attacks, falsely reported in the media as him having an allergy to horses. During production, the script for the finale was altered when producer Bob Daley jokingly said that a train should crash through the barroom in the climax and he was taken seriously by cast and crew and they thought it was a great idea. Joe Kidd received a mixed reception. For instance Roger Greenspun of The New York Times thought the film overall was nothing remarkable and had foolish symbolism and what he suspected was sloppy editing, but praised Eastwood's performance.

"I think it is a very good performance in context. Like so many Western heroes, Joe Kidd figures even in his own time as an anachronism — powerful through his instincts mainly, and through the ability of everybody else, whether in rage or gratitude, to recognize in him a quality that must be called virtue. The great value of Clint Eastwood in such a position is that he guards his virtue very cannily, and in the society of "Joe Kidd," where the men still manage to tip their hats to the ladies, but just barely, all the Eastwood effects and mannerisms suggest a carefully preserved authenticity." - Roger Greenspun, The New York Times, July 20, 1972

Eastwood had now starred in an astonishing ten films in a four-year period and a headline published in the Motion Picture Herald in 1972 read, 'Eastwood Topples John Wayne', who only had one release that year, The Cowboys.

Joe Kidd
No novel or novelisation.

1973 proved another benchmark to Eastwood when he directed his first western, High Plains Drifter. Under a joint production between Malpaso and Universal, the script was created by Ernest Tidyman, an acclaimed writer who had won an Oscar for Best Screenplay for The French Connection. Dean Riesner collaborated and came up with the final plot; a tall, mysterious stranger arrives in a brooding Western town where the people share a guilty secret. They hire the stranger to defend the town against three felons soon to be released but fail to recognise that they once killed this stranger in a brutal whipping and that his reappearance is supernatural. The ghostly stranger forces the people to paint the town red and names it "Hell" and seeks revenge. Holes in the plot were filled in with black humor and allegory, influenced by Sergio Leone. Henry Bumstead was brought in the design the eerie set, set on the shores of Mono Lake, Bruce Sartees as the cinematographer and Dee Barton composing the equally eerie score which ranged from typical Morricone type grandeur to horror-esque shrilling. High Plains Drifter would be the first of six movies Eastwood made with friend Geoffrey Lewis. The revisionist film received a mixed reception from critics but was a major box office success. A number of critics thought Eastwood's directing was as a derivative as it was expressive with Arthur Knight in Saturday Review remarking that Clint had "absorbed the approaches of Siegel and Leone and fused them with his own paranoid vision of society". Jon Landau of Rolling Stone concurred, remarking that it is his thematic shallowness and verbal archness which is where the film fell apart, yet he expressed approval of the dramatic scenery and cinematography.

High Plains Drifter by Ernest Tidyman (New York, Bantam, 1973)
Corgi 0552-09388-2, 1973, 151pp.

Elmore Leonard had proposed the idea of a film about an artichoke  farmer who refused to surrender to a criminal syndicate trying to squeeze his profits. Eastwood had read the twenty five pages outlined by Leonard and refused the offer, despite him setting the film around Castroville, near Carmel. Instead, Eastwood turned his attention towards a script written by Jo Heims about a love blossoming between a middle-aged man and a teenage girl, Breezy. Heims had originally intended Clint to play the starring role of the realtor Frank Harmon, a bitter divorced man who falls in love with the young Breezy. Whilst Eastwood confessed to "understanding the Frank Harmon character" he believed he was too young at that stage to play Harmon. That part would go to William Holden, twelve years Eastwood's senior and Clint decided to direct the picture. During casting for the film, Eastwood met Sondra Locke for the first time, an actress who would play a major role in many of his films for the next ten years and an important figure in his life. Locke, who was 26 at this time, was considered too old for the Breezy part and after much auditioning, a young dark-haired actress named Kay Lenz, who had recently appeared in American Graffiti, was cast. According to friends of Clint, he became infatuated with Lenz during this period. Filming for Breezy began in the November of 1972 in Los Angeles. With Surtees occupied elsewhere, Frank Stanley was brought in the shoot the picture, the first of four films he would shoot for Malpaso. The film was shot very quickly and efficiently and in the end went $1 million under budget and finished three days before schedule. The film was not a major success, it barely reached the Top 50 before disappearing and was only made available on video in 1998. Nor was it received particularly well by critics. Some critics, including Eastwood's biographer Richard Schnickel believed that the sexual content of the film and love scenes were too soft to be memorable for such a potentially scandalous relationship between Harmon and Breezy, commenting that, "it is not a sexy movie. Once again, Eastwood was too polite in his eroticism."

No novel or novelisation.

Tomorrow: The return of Dirty Harry!

(* The main body text for this column is from the Wikipedia article "Clint Eastwood in the 1970s", accessed 23 September 2010 (last modified 23 August 2010).Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.)

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