Saturday, 24 June 2017

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot at BAM Cinématek

Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges’s Modern Western “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” is a proto-bromance that becomes a crime story halfway through. 
By Richard Brody, The New Yorker




In  1973, Clint Eastwood, who was already a major star, produced and acted in Michael Cimino’s first film as a director, “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.” It offered more than a fine role for Eastwood; it was one of the great directorial débuts of the New Hollywood era. “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” plays July 2 at BAM Cinématek in a series of heist movies co-programmed by Edgar Wright (June 27-July 23), who directed a new entry in the genre, “Baby Driver,” opening this week. Cimino’s film is a heist movie with a difference: it withholds the crime story until midway through the film. Before that, it’s a rough-and-tumble, back-road Northwest adventure that’s also a buddy comedy, even a proto-bromance.
The movie, which Cimino also wrote, is loosely based on, and named after, two infamous early-nineteenth-century Irish bandits. Eastwood plays John (Thunderbolt) Doherty, an Idaho country preacher who’s actually a bank robber in hiding. Jeff Bridges, who was twenty-four at the time, plays Lightfoot, a fast-talking, freewheeling, fun-loving drifter and grifter. The two men meet cute when Thunderbolt’s sermon is interrupted by a gunman and he dashes from his crowded church. Lightfoot, speeding on a country road in a stolen muscle car, picks up the fleeing Thunderbolt and outdrives the gunman for kicks—and experiences a sort of fraternal love at first sight for his terse, coolly confident and worldly-wise older passenger.
Ditching another stolen car, Lightfoot leads Thunderbolt into Hell’s Canyon, on the Snake River, where, the young man says, “Up here, people’s business is nobody’s but their own.” But trouble ensues when Thunderbolt’s former partners in crime turn up—the resentful and brutal Red (George Kennedy) and Goody (Geoffrey Lewis), whose benighted lumpishness contrasts dismally with Thunderbolt’s bladelike precision and Lightfoot’s carefree, sexually uninhibited insolence. After a near-deadly tangle, they put their differences aside to undertake a new robbery—of an armored-truck depot—in a small Montana town. Accumulating know-how and equipment (including an anti-tank cannon), the four men live in a simulacrum of domesticity that seethes with ambient violence and erotic tension. As Thunderbolt details to Lightfoot the obstacles they face—“microphones, electric eyes, pressure-sensitive mats, vibration detectors, tear gas, and even thermostats”—Lightfoot beams at him blissfully.
Cimino blends the split-second criminal plot with wild humor. Lightfoot gets called out on his macho posturing by a woman with a hammer (no one gets hurt), but Cimino also takes deadly seriously the sort of beat-downs that are usually played for laughs. The action, however, is inseparable from Cimino’s distinctive view of the untamed landscapes. The film’s images are filled with a pointillistic profusion of detail—wheat stalks at the roadside, a modern bridge’s metallic latticework, even the duo’s jazzily patterned shirts—that’s as alluring as it is nerve-jangling. Cimino’s wide-open West is a wonder and a snare, blending freedom and cruelty, innocence and ignorance; its expanses seem blood-soaked and death-haunted. With its mix of spectacle and intimacy, exuberance and tragedy, “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” points ahead to the radical extremes of Cimino’s 1980 masterwork, “Heaven’s Gate.”

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Happy birthday to the great Lalo Schifrin

I feel it’s only right to celebrate Lalo’s birthday here today. Schifrin has played such an integral part in the success of Clint’s career, scoring the soundtracks to films including Coogan’s Bluff, The Beguiled, Kelly’s Heroes, Dirty Harry, Joe Kidd, Magnum Force, Sudden Impact and The Dead Pool.
I find it a little hard to believe that it was back in late 2005 that the legendary Renaissance man granted me an exclusive interview for Cinema Retro Magazine. I had built up a nice relationship with his company Aleph Records alongside his charming wife Donna, and his daughter-in-law Theresa.
It is a friendship that still endures to this day. I really didn’t know what to expect upon interviewing this extraordinary composer? On the one hand, I had to wear my ‘professional’ hat – but of course, I was (and remain) a genuine ‘fan’. Will I get 20 minutes? Perhaps I could push it to 30 minutes of good, informative chat? No, Lalo was far too charming and generous for that, he opened up about the whole Exorcist story, some great personal memories, his childhood and after some engrossing 80 minutes of conversation the interview found its own very natural conclusion… officially. Beyond that we probably chatted ‘off the record’ for a further 5-10 minutes. From my perspective, Lalo had switched from hero to friend – a certain trust seemed to emerge and I love the man dearly for that. During those final few minutes he delivered to me perhaps the ultimate compliment ‘You know more about me than I do!’  Well Lalo, I’ll settle for that any day of the week, Sir…
On behalf of all the fans, I’d like to wish you a wonderful 85th Birthday along with continued Health and Happiness.

-The Clint Eastwood Archive-
  

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Clint: Clapperboard Specials from 1980

I’m very happy to present these two extremely rare reports that appeared on the UK TV programme Clapperboard in 1980. The first of these reports is on Bronco Billy and catches Clint while on his trip in Deauville, France. The imdb lists this particular episode with a TX date of October 6th 1980. 

The second report is listed as ‘Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke’ with a TX date of December 18th 1980 which was just 2 weeks before the UK release date of Any which way you can on January 1st 1981. 




My sincere thanks go to Dave Turner for providing the original VHS source tapes and to our friends David Vernall-Downes and Jonathan Downes. David has done a wonderful job and digitised these old tapes. We are entirely appreciative. His brother Jonathan has also kindly provided us with web space in order to continuously host these important videos.
Below: Clapperboard - Deauville - Bronco Billy
          
 Below: Clapperboard - Any which way you can
          

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Clint and the 1000th screen kill!

This is a story that goes way back. It’s something that has always amused me and perhaps rather stupidly, often gets my mind thinking. It was no doubt rather a clever publicity stunt, and one that has certainly endured a degree of longevity.


The story appeared in the November 1970 issue of Film Review magazine, an edition which also carried a great cover shot featuring Clint. The article was entitled ‘Bang, Bang! Clint’s 1000th Kill’. The piece recognised that since Clint shot to fame as the man with no name in A Fistful of Dollars he has pretty much brandished a firearm in every subsequent movie and ‘mowed down’ countless enemies left, right and centre. According to the article, countless isn’t quite true. According to ‘the people whose job it is to attend to such matters’ (which is about as accurate as a newspapers ‘close source’) have actually counted the characters that have stopped Eastwood bullets. The story goes on to explain that in Clint’s latest film Kelly’s Heroes, the score enters the four-figure category. It continued:

‘On learning that the gunning down of a German officer was to be his 1000th screen killing, Clint secretly pocketed a 50-calibre machine gun bullet on his way to the set. After the slaying had taken place and the director had called “cut”, the victim (English stuntman Joe Dunne) found himself being helped to his feet by his ‘assassin’ and presented with the ‘Golden Bullet Award to the 1000th Man to stand in Clint Eastwood’s Way!’’
According to whichever 'in house' writer or MGM publicist wrote this piece - explained that ‘his tally of 1000 kings seemed to be well advanced by Where Eagles Dare in which he appeared to mow down and entire German force in helping to rescue an American general from a mountain fortress'
‘I just stood around trying to figure out the espionage tricks or operating my machine gun while Burton handled the dialogue.’ says Clint.

Now, I’m not perhaps the world’s greatest living mathematician, but 1000? Of course we live in a world today which allows us instant access to a movie, home cinema and the like, allows us to scrutinise over and over. Not that I’m ever going to sit down and meticulously count every one of Clint’s screen victims between 1964 and 1970. But one can see how easy it was to perhaps ‘sell’ this one to the public, especially without any retrospective means of looking at them all back and doing the math.

It was certainly something that MGM enthusiastically promoted. The scene in question turned up as a publicity shot and was actually used as one of the film’s Lobby cards. There were also several press stills released depicting the scene with the legend on reverse actually featuring the story. Photo information states:

‘Clint Eastwood presents “The Golden Bullet” award to his Thousandth victim’ according to the information this was shot in Yugoslavia, October 1969. It’s also worth noting that at this stage in production (and on the photos) the film was still referred to as The Warriors. (Right)
However, one might arguably question the validity of this picture at all? Where is it in the film? I’ve always believed this to be a staged publicity photo – Clint going into battle, without wearing a helmet? It just doesn’t add up to me? And I do wonder if the 1000th victim scenario was conjured up around this photo shoot – perhaps by a somewhat overzealous team of guys from within the MGM publicity department? I never did see any publicity photos of Clint handing over that anniversary bullet after all? If it was such a big deal, why weren’t there any photos taken, the presenting of the bullet?
Nevertheless, it remains one of those great little stories or myths as it were, that remind us all of a much more innocent and fun time that revolved around the whole publicity and promotion of a movie and days that are sorely missed.   
  
Below: The colour lobby card depicting the scene and the '1000th victim' 

            

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

CLINT EASTWOOD Get Yourself another Fool LONDON LED247 Rare Japanese 7"

Now here’s a rather nice little rarity. Once upon a time, there was this young actor who starred in a TV series called Rawhide – which turned out to be rather successful. During this time, that same actor also cut an album, and a few singles which tied in nicely with that TV series. Thankfully, I have an original copy of that Cameo LP. Since then the album has made its way onto CD in various different formats and is quite easily affordable. These CDs are also excellent in terms of sound quality. 
However, some things are simply not that affordable, including this very nice and extremely rare 1962 7” single that was only released in Japan. I spotted this gem on eBay recently. It contains the tracks ‘Get Yourself another Fool’ and ‘For you, for me, for evermore’ and comes with a wonderful picture sleeve/insert. Japanese single inserts typically contain the lyrics on the reverse side.
So what else makes this very special? Unless this insert came printed with a personally signed dedication (which I very much doubt) it appears to be signed by Clint. The dedication looks to read – ‘Dear Brenda This is my first record in Japan I hope you like it Clint Eastwood Rowdy’. Now I’m no expert, but my initial thoughts lead me to believe that it looks pretty convincing. The signature is of the correct style for this time period. BUT, please don’t take that as gospel, I’m certainly not saying it IS genuine. I’m simply saying it looks remarkably convincing.
So, how much would this set you back? Well, it currently has a buy now price on it at $1,200 or £927.89 (if that lessens the pain to some degree). Oh and there is postage to be added to that. I just thought it was worthy of featuring here. I certainly have never seen it before, and I doubt if I will ever see many again. Should you fancy adding a little piece of 7” vinyl to your collection..? Unfortunately, I’m sad to report, it will remain absent from mine.