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Posts tagged “Clint Eastwood

Eli Wallach – R.I.P.

eli-wallachEli Wallach will always be Tuco to me. For some actors who enjoyed a career as long and varied as Wallach, being persistently known for one role above all others would rankle. Judging by Wallach’s frequent interview conversations about his role in Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, he probably wouldn’t mind. Or he would understand, at least.

And Tuco is a hell of a performance, opposite Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef, Wallach steals the show, he’s all bluster, willpower and charisma. In that respect, the role may actually be a good representation of the actor’s career. For Wallach was born to Polish Jewish parents, and grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn. No one looking very closely would have mistaken him for an actual Mexican bandit, but Wallach’s cagey energy and sardonic wit allowed him to own the role. Those were only a couple of the qualities that made him a mainstay of stage and screen for nearly sixty years. Eli Wallach died Tuesday, at age 98.

If you want to play the game of exploring deeper cuts and more obscure roles, or if you just want a highlight reel that could run to feature length, Wallach’s incredible career can provide. His first big-screen role was in Baby Doll, an Elia Kazan-directed adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play, scripted by Williams himself.

Wallach played in westerns (The Magnificent Seven), literary adaptations (Lord Jim), contemporary dramas (The Misfits), total genre work (Circle of Iron), weird horror (The Sentinel), and even some high-profile sequels as in The Two Jakes, The Godfather Part III, and his final role, in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. He was even one of the Mr. Freeze actors in the ’60s Batman show, inheriting the role from Otto Preminger and George Sanders.

Wallach has 167 credits to his name on IMDB, which means you can peruse a list of his work that features almost twice as many film and TV roles as years in Wallach’s life. That doesn’t take into account his many stage roles, which were often performed opposite his wife, Anne Jackson. (They were married in 1948, raised three children, and remained together until his death.) In his prime, doing movie roles was often a way to finance work on stage — take a film gig, do a couple plays, repeat.

Wallach never won an Oscar, but was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2010, for being “the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role.” (New York Times)


The Salvation – Trailer

I love westerns, always have, Clint Eastwood has a lot to do with my love of the genre. I love the classics, I love spghetti westerns and I also love the grittier ‘revisionist’ westerns like The Long Riders, Eastwood’s own Unforgiven and the Nick Cave penned Australian western The Proposition. Now we Mads Mikkelsen staring in Scandinavian western The Salvation, a Cannes Official Selection title which promises more of that… can’t wait.

Directed by Kristian Levring, the 1870’s-set pic also stars Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Mikael Persbrandt, Eric Cantona and Jonathan Pryce. Levring co-wrote the script with Susanne Bier’s frequent collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen.

The large-scale drama follows Mikkelsen’s settler John and his arrival in the American West. When his family is murdered, he kills the culprit, unleashing the fury of notorious gang leader Delarue. Betrayed by his corrupt and cowardly community, the peaceful pioneer must turn vengeful hunter, slay the outlaws, and cleanse the town’s black heart.


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Spaghetti Western Pizza Art

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Dirty Harry – Classic O/S Posters


Don Siegel

Donald Siegel (October 26, 1912 – April 20, 1991) was an American film director and producer. His name variously appeared in the credits of his films as both Don Siegel and Donald Siegel. He was best known for the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and five films with Clint Eastwood, including Dirty Harry (1971) and Escape from Alcatraz (1979).

Born in Chicago, with Jewish origins, he attended schools in New York and later graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge in England. For a short time he studied at Beaux Arts in Paris, France, but left at age 20 and later made his way to Los Angeles.

Siegel found work in the Warner Bros. film library after meeting producer Hal Wallis, and later rose to head of the Montage Department, where he directed thousands of montages, including the opening montage for Casablanca. In 1945 two shorts he directed, Hitler Lives? and Star in the Night, won Academy Awards, which launched his career as a feature director.

He directed whatever material came his way, often transcending the limitations of budget and script to produce interesting and adept works. He made the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1956. He directed two episodes of The Twilight Zone, “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross” and “Uncle Simon”. He worked with Elvis Presley on Flaming Star (1960), with Steve McQueen in Hell Is for Heroes and Lee Marvin in the influential The Killers (1964) before directing a series of five films with Clint Eastwood that were commercially successful in addition to being well received by critics.

These included the police thrillers Coogan’s Bluff and Dirty Harry, the Western Two Mules for Sister Sara, the cynical American Civil War melodrama The Beguiled and the prison-break picture Escape from Alcatraz. He was a considerable influence on Eastwood’s own career as a director, and Eastwood’s film Unforgiven is dedicated “for Don (Siegel) and Sergio (Leone)”.

He had a long collaboration with composer Lalo Schiffrin, who scored five of his films: Coogan’s Bluff, The beguiled, Dirty Harry, Charley Varrick and Telefon. Schifrin composed and recorded what would have been his sixth score for Siegel on Jinxed! (1982), but it was rejected by the studio despite Siegel’s objections. This was one of several fights Siegel had on this, his last film.

Siegel was also important in the career of director Sam Peckinpah. In 1954, Peckinpah was hired as a dialogue coach for Riot in Cell Block 11, his job entailed acting as an assistant for the director, Siegel. The film was shot on location at Folsom Prison; Siegel’s location work and his use of actual prisoners as extras in the film made a lasting impression on Peckinpah. He worked as a dialogue coach on four additional Siegel films: Private Hell 36 (1954), An Annapolis Story (1955), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Crime in the Streets (1956).

25 years later, Peckinpah was all but banished from the industry due to his troubled film productions. Siegel gave the director a chance to return to filmmaking. He asked Peckinpah if he would be interested in directing 12 days of second unit work on Jinxed!. Peckinpah immediately accepted, and his earnest collaboration with his longtime friend was noted within the industry. While Peckinpah’s work was uncredited, it would lead to his hiring as the director of his final film The Osterman Weekend (1983).

Siegel has a cameo role as a bartender in Eastwood’s Play Misty For Me, and in Philip Kaufman’s 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a remake of Siegel’s own 1956 film, he appears as a “pod” taxi driver. He died at the age of 78 from cancer in Nipomo, California.


Donald Sutherland

Donald McNichol Sutherland, (born 17 July 1935) is a Canadian actor whose film career spans nearly 50 years. Some of Sutherland’s more notable movie roles included offbeat warriors in popular war movies such as The Dirty Dozen, M*A*S*H, and Kelly’s Heroes, as well as characters in other popular films such as Klute, Don’t Look Now, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Animal House, JFK, Ordinary People and, more recently, The Hunger Games as President Snow. He is the father of actor Kiefer Sutherland.

Sutherland was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, however, his teenage years were spent in Nova Scotia, where he got his first part-time job at age 14 as a news correspondent for local radio station CKBW. He studied at Victoria College, University of Toronto, and graduated with a double major in engineering and drama. He changed his mind about becoming an engineer, and subsequently left Canada for England in 1957 to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

In the early-to-mid-1960s, Sutherland began to gain small parts in British films and TV. He featured alongside Christopher Lee in horror films such as Castle of the Living Dead (1964) and Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965). During this period he featured in British TV series’ The Avengers and The Saint. Sutherland was then on course for the first of the three war films which would make his name: as one of the The Dirty Dozen in 1967, alongside Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson; as the lead “Hawkeye” Pierce in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H; and as hippy-like tank commander Sgt. Oddball in Kelly’s Heroes, alongside Clint Eastwood (both 1970).

During the filming of the Academy award-winning detective thriller Klute (1971), Sutherland and Jane Fonda went on to co-produce and star together in the anti-Vietnam war documentary F.T.A (1972), consisting of a series of sketches performed outside army bases and interviews with American troops who were then on active service. As a more mainstream follow-up to their teaming up in Klute, Sutherland and Fonda performed together again in Steelyard Blues (1972).

Sutherland then starred in the Venice-based psychological horror film Don’t Look Now (1973), directed by Nic Roeg. While Don’t Look Now observes many conventions of the thriller genre, its primary focus is on the psychology of grief, and the effect the death of a child can have on a relationship. The film’s emotionally convincing depiction of grief is often singled out as a trait not usually present in films featuring supernatural plot elements.

As well as the unusual handling of its subject matter, Don’t Look Now is renowned for its atypical but innovative editing style, and its use of recurring motifs and themes. The film often employs flashbacks and flash-forwards in keeping with the depiction of precognition, but some scenes are intercut or merged to alter the viewer’s perception of what is really happening. It also adopts an impressionist approach to its imagery, often presaging events with familiar objects, patterns and colours using associative editing techniques.

Originally causing controversy on its initial release due to an explicit and—for the time—very graphic sex scene between Christie and Sutherland, its reputation has grown considerably in the years since, and it is now acknowledged as a modern classic and an influential work in horror and British film.

He soon found himself in demand as a leading man throughout the 1970s in films such as Day of the Locust (1975), The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Federico Fellini’s Casanova (1976), 1900 (1976), and as the ever-optimistic health inspector in the science fiction/horror film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), and the thriller Eye of the Needle (1981).

Sutherland also had a small role as pot-smoking Professor Dave Jennings in National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), making himself known to younger fans as a result of the movie’s popularity. When cast, he was offered either US$40,000 up front or a percentage of the movie. Thinking the movie would certainly not be a big success, he chose the 40K upfront payment. The movie eventually grossed $141,600,000 (US).

Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, Sutherland featured in A Dry White Season (1989), Backdraft (1989), Lock-Up (1991), Six Degree’s of Separation (1993), the Oliver Stone conspiracy film JFK (1991). In 1992, he played the part of Merrick in the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He featured in Disclosure (1994), Outbreak (1995) and A Time to Kill (1996), the latter with his son Kiefer.

In more recent years, Sutherland was noted for his roles in Cold Mountain (2003), the remake of  The Italian Job (2003), in the TV movie Salem’s Lot (2004) as well as the TV series Commander in Chief (2005–2006). He earned an Emmy nomination in 2006 for his performance in the miniseries Human Trafficking. In 2010 he starred alongside an ensemble cast in a TV adaptation of Ken Follett’s novel The Pillars of the Earth. 

Sutherland portrayed President Snow in the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games, released in March 2012. He is slated to reprise the role in its sequel Catching Fire. 


Happy Birthday Universal Pictures

Birthday wishes are in order for Universal Pictures, which as widely noted is celebrating its centennial all year long. Founded by Carl Laemmle, Universal Film Manufacturing Company was incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. The studio sent out 100 facts about its history, which makes for a good read…. I’ve cut the list down to my favourite 50:

1. Universal Film Manufacturing Company was officially incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. Company legend says Carl Laemmle was inspired to name his company Universal after seeing “Universal Pipe Fittings” written on a passing delivery wagon.

2. The only physical damage made during the filming of National Lampoon’s Animal House was when John Belushi made a hole in the wall with a guitar. The actual Sigma Nu fraternity house (which subbed for the fictitious Delta House) never repaired it, and instead framed the hole in honor of the film.

3. In the movie All Quiet on the Western Front, the Greek writing on the blackboard in the schoolroom is the beginning of Homer’s Odyssey: “Tell me, oh Muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide.”

4. The word “dude” in The Big Lebowski is used approximately 161 times in the movie: 160 times spoken and once in text (in the credits for “Gutterballs” the second dream sequence). The F-word or a variation of the F-word is used 292 times. The Dude says “man” 147 times in the movie—that’s nearly 1.5 times a minute.

5. Back to the Future’s DeLorean time machine is actually a licensed, registered vehicle in the state of California. While the vanity license plate used in the film says “OUTATIME,” the DeLorean’s actual license plate reads 3CZV657.

6. American Graffiti’s budget was exactly $777,777.77, and it was delivered on time – and on budget.

7. In the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds, Tippi Hedren was actually cut in the face by a bird during the shooting of one sequence.

8. The Munster’s House on Colonial Street was originally built for the 1946 production, So Goes My Love.

9. The title of the movie Do The Right Thing comes from a Malcolm X quote: “You’ve got to do the right thing.”

10. According to reports, during some of the Russian roulette scenes in the movie The Deer Hunter, a live round was put into the gun to heighten the actors’ tension per Robert De Niro’s suggestion. It was checked, however, to make sure the bullet was not in the chamber before the trigger was pulled.

11. In the first scene of the movie Double Indemnity, when Walter first kisses Phyllis, there is a wedding ring on Walter’s hand. Fred MacMurray was married and the ring was not noticed until post-production.

12. When Bela Lugosi, star of the monster classic, Dracula, died in 1956, he was buried wearing a black silk cape similar to the one he wore in the film.

13. At 29,500 sq. ft., Universal Studios’ Stage 12 is the 7th largest soundstage in the world. It was originally built for the 1929 musical Broadway.

14. Carl Laemmle Jr. offered James Whale a list of more than 30 film adaptations he could direct and out of them all, Whale picked Frankenstein. It was his transition from war movies to monster pics.

15. Vans, the company behind the checkerboard shoes worn by Sean Penn (a.k.a. Jeff Spicoli) in the cult movie classic, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, became a national brand after the film’s release in 1982.

16. Actor Charlton Heston “parted” the Red Sea attraction on the Universal Studios Tour at the attraction’s grand opening in 1973.

17. The Universal sound technician, Jack Foley, developed the method of creating and recording many of the natural, everyday sound effects in a film. Today this method is named after him.

18. The legendary thriller and suspense director Alfred Hitchcock did not win any Academy Awards while working with Universal.

19. In the infamous shower scene in Psycho, the sound of the knife-stabbing actress Janet Leigh was made by plunging a knife into a melon.

20. The legendary studio head Irving Thalberg got his start in show business as Carl Laemmle’s personal secretary in 1917.

21. In 1995, Waterworld generated worldwide attention for being the most expensive film made to date. Unable to live up to expectations at the box office, the film eventually turned a profit due to strong home video sales and inspired one of the most popular theme park attractions of all time.

22. About 25% of the film Jaws was shot from water level so audiences could better relate to treading water.

23. In the film The Invisible Man, the director dressed Claude Rains in black velvet and filmed him against a black velvet background to create the effect that he wasn’t there.

24. Some of the props used in the 2005 version of King Kong were original props from the 1933 version. These props came from Peter Jackson’s personal collection and include the Skull Island spears and brightly painted shield, and some of the drums from the sacrifice scene.

25. In Jurassic Park, a guitar string was used to make the water ripple on the dash of the Ford Explorer by attaching it to the underside of the dash beneath the glass.

26. Universal entered the 3-D market with the film, It Came from Outer Space (1953)

27. Universal won its first Best Picture Academy Award for All Quiet on the Western Front in 1930.

28. Steven Spielberg nicknamed the mechanical shark in the movie Jaws, “Bruce.”

29. In the film The Incredible Shrinking Man, when Louise is on the phone asking for the operator, the music playing on the radio is the theme song to Written on the Wind, which was made at Universal the year prior.

30. It took two-and-a-half hours a day to apply Lon Chaney’s makeup in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

31. The first American film to show a toilet flushing on screen was Psycho.

32. In the film, Scarface, an M16 assault rifle with an M203 40mm grenade launcher attached to the barrel is Tony’s “little friend.”

33. Alfred Hitchcock did not choose to conclude the film, The Birds, with the usual “THE END” title because he wanted to leave the audience with the feeling of unending terror and uncertainty.

34. The locusts in the 1999 film, The Mummy, were mostly computer-generated, however, some live grasshoppers were used. Hours before filming they were chilled in a refrigerator to make them more sluggish.

35. The average shot length in the film Vertigo is 6.7 seconds.

36. The permanent set in Stage 28 was created to be a replica of the landmark The Paris Opera House, for the classic film, The Phantom of the Opera.

37. When you hear the sound of the crowd cheering, “Spartacus! Spartacus!” in the movie Spartacus, it was actually a pre-taped recording from a 1959 football game at Michigan State University’s Spartan Stadium.

38. The final speech by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird was done in one take.

39. The diner in the movie The Sting is the same diner interior used in Back to the Future.

40. The title of the film Streets of Fire starring Michael Paré and Diane Lane, was drawn from a Bruce Springsteen song, from his album Darkness on the Edge of Town. The song, unfortunately, does not appear in the film.

41. 1920’s Shipwrecked Among Cannibals was the first film to gross $1,000,000 for Universal.

42. Prominent Universal Director Edward Laemmle was the nephew of Universal Founder Carl Laemmle. He directed over 60 films (including shorts) for Universal.

43. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein is only the second time Bela Lugosi would play “Dracula” in a feature film. (He played other vampires in the interim, but not Dracula.)

44. In 1973’s High Plains Drifter starring Clint Eastwood, one of the headstones in the graveyard bears the name Sergio Leone as a tribute.

45. In 1992’s Scent of Woman, Al Pacino repeatedly shouts “Hoo-ah.” “Hoo-ah” comes from the military acronym “HUA” which stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.”

46. The Blues Brothers “Bluesmobile” is a 1974 Dodge Monaco.

47. 1971’s Play Misty for Me was set in Carmel, CA, where Clint Eastwood later lived and became mayor in 1986.

48. “The Bride” in “The Bride of Frankenstein” is the only one of Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters to have never killed anyone.

49. Throughout its hundred year legacy, Universal brought to audiences the first films of talents such as John Ford, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Norman Jewison, Ben Stiller, Robert Zemeckis, John Hughes, Amy Heckerling, Spike Jonze, Zack Snyder and Judd Apatow.

50. More than 100 million people from around the world have taken the Universal Studios “studio tour.” While the tour officially began in 1964, Universal has been welcoming the public to our studio since 1915 and the silent era.