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Posts tagged “True Grit

Hal Wallis

Harold Brent Wallis (September 14, 1898 – October 5, 1986) was an American film producer. He is most famously remembered for producing Casablanca, and other important films featuring actors such as Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Katherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Dean Martin, John Wayne and Elvis Presley.

Wallis was born in Chicago in 1898, the son of Eva (née Blum) and Jacob Walinsky, Eastern European Jews. His family moved in 1922 to Los Angeles, where he found work as part of the publicity department at Warner 1923.

Within a few years, Wallis became involved in the production end of the business and would eventually become head of production at Warners. In a career that spanned more than fifty years, he was involved with the production of more than 400 feature-length movies.

Among the many significant movies he produced were Dark Victory, Now Voyager, Sergeant York and The Adventures of Robin Hood the 1938 swashbuckler directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley. Filmed in lush Technicolor, the picture stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Haviland, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains.

The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 Warner Bros. film based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. Written for the screen and directed by John Huston, the film stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade, Mary Astor as his femme fatale client; Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet in his film debut. The film was Huston’s directorial debut and was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Wallis left Warner Bros. in 1944, after a clash with Jack Warner over Warner’s acceptance of the Best Picture Oscar to Casablanca, to work as an independent producer, enjoying considerable success both commercially and critically. Among his financial hits were the Martin and Lewis comedies, and several of Elvis Presley’s movies.

He produced True Grit, a 1969 American Western written by Marguerite Roberts and directed by Henry Hathaway. It is the first adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel of the same name. John Wayne stars as U. S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn and won the Academy Award for his performance in this film. Wayne reprised his role as Cogburn in the 1975 sequel Rooster Cogburn.

Wallis received sixteen Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, winning for Casablanca in 1943. For his consistently high quality of motion picture production, he was twice honored with the Academy Awards’ Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He was also nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, twice winning awards for Best Picture. In 1975, he received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures.

Robert Evans

Robert Evans (born June 29, 1930) is a Film Producer best known for his work in the golden era of new Hollywood. He started out as an actor, however, dissatisfied with his own acting talent, he determined to become a producer.

He got his start as head of production at Paramount by purchasing the rights to a 1966 novel entitled ‘The Detective’ which Evans made into a movie starring Frank Sinatra in 1968. This got Evans noticed by Charles Bludhorn, who was head of the Gulf+Western conglomerate who owed the studio, and hired Evans as part of a shakeup at Paramount Pictures.

When Evans took over as Head of Production for Paramount, the foundering studio was the ninth largest. Despite Evans’ inexperience, he was able to turn the studio around. He made Paramount the most successful studio in Hollywood and transformed it into a very profitable enterprise for Gulf+Western. During his tenure at Paramount, the studio turned out classic films such as ‘Barefoot in the Park’, ‘The Odd Couple’, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘The Italian Job’, ‘True Grit’, ‘Love Story’, ‘Harold and Maude’, ‘The Godfather’, ‘Serpico’, ‘The Conversation’, ‘The Great Gatsby’, and many others. Although he obviously had an eye for a hit, he did turn down ‘The French Connection’ and ‘Jaws’…

Dissatisfied with his financial compensation, and desiring to produce films under his own banner, Evans struck a deal with Paramount that enabled him to stay on as studio head while also working as an independent producer. Other producers at Paramount felt this gave Evans an unfair advantage. Eventually Evans stepped down, which enabled him to produce films on his own. He went on to produce such films as ‘Chinatown’, ‘Marathon Man’, ‘Black Sunday’, ‘Urban Cowboy’, ‘The Cotton Club’ and the Chinatown sequel, ‘The Two Jakes’.

Evans began to fall on hard times in the early 1980s, when during the production of ‘Popeye’ he was convicted for attempting to buy cocaine. Things got even worse for him when he began filming ‘The Cotton Club’. Evans was slated to direct, but due to production complications Francis Ford Coppola was called in during the filming. The budget for the film soared and Coppola and Evans fought endlessly. Evans was peripherally linked to the murder of Roy Haddin, an investor in The Cotton Club, who was murdered. Evans was accused of involvement; he pleaded the 5th Amendment and was sent home. Evans wrote in his excellent 1994 autobiography ‘The Kid Stays In The Picture’ that he was a “tangential character, at best” in regard to the case.

Hollywood scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas repeatedly describes his friend, Evans, as “the devil” in his book, Hollywood Animal, and goes on to say that “all lies ever told anywhere about Robert Evans are true.”