On June 13, 1971 at a concert in Hollywood to raise money for the Motion Picture and TV Relief Fund Frank Sinatra at the age of 55, announced that he was retiring, bringing to an end his 36-year career in show business. This concert was held at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. The Program began with Princess Grace of Monaco (the former Grace Kelly) giving the opening remarks followed by the concert. Frank Sinatra was introduced by Rosalind Russell and began his performance by singing All or nothing at all, followed by I’ve got you under my skin, I’ll never smile again, a moving rendition of Ol’ man river, That’s life, Try a little tenderness, Fly me to the Moon, Nancy, My way, The Lady is a Tramp and concluding his performance with Angel eye. His performance was reported as by far the best of the evening. All of the best known entertainers of the time were on the program, not to mention celebrities like Clint Eastwood and his wife Maggie, Robert Wagner, Lucile Ball, David Jansen and Don Knotts that would be in the audience. By all accounts, it was a great show, although Frank Sinatra made his comeback a little more than a year later! It was also memorable for Sinatra’s mic cutting out half way through his opening number, apparently due to someone backstage tripping over the wire and pulling its plug from the socket. Hey, it could happen to the best of em, right?
Saturday, 17 March 2018
Saturday, 10 March 2018
It’s always a refreshing and enduring quality when a director or star finds the ability to hold their hands up and say ‘hey’… In many ways, it’s like watching your football team lose a game, but you nevertheless leave the stadium safe in the knowledge and satisfied that they gave it a damn good go. Acceptance is made all the more easier.
I recently came across this interesting piece from the Culture section of the Japan times and thought I’d reproduce it here.
‘Everybody knocks out a flop every now and then,” quipped Clint Eastwood during a recent interview to promote his latest movie, “The 15:17 to Paris.”
The film forms part of an informal trilogy dedicated to real-life examples of American derring-do, following on from “Sully” (2016) and “American Sniper” (2014). Yet it’s also the most experimental of the three, thanks to Eastwood’s bold decision to re-create the 2015 Thalys train attack — in which a trio of U.S. backpackers foiled a terrorist gunman — using many of the actual protagonists. Six decades into his career, the filmmaker probably has better things to worry about than the opinions of a few critics, but the response to the movie has been overwhelmingly negative. Though a few writers have rallied to its defense, it has been widely lambasted as “dramatically inert” (The Guardian), “defiantly amateurish” (Time Out) and “too muffled and often too dull to make an impact” (The New Yorker). The esteemed French periodical Cahiers du Cinema, normally one of the director’s staunchest advocates, declared simply: “Eastwood’s latest is a shipwreck.” In Japan, however, the critics are telling a different story. The official website for “The 15:17 to Paris” is festooned with blurbs from dozens of notable film writers, singing from a by-now familiar hymnal. “At the age of 87, Eastwood is in a realm of his own, still reinventing the language of cinema,” says Koremasa Uno. “Are you a god?”
“An innovation in docudrama,” concurs Masamichi Yoshihiro. “I bow down before his directorial abilities.” To say that Japanese critics have a bit of a thing for Eastwood would be an understatement. His films have topped the year-end poll in Kinema Junpo, Japan’s oldest and most respected movie magazine, an extraordinary eight times. Only one of his 14 flicks since 2000 has missed out on a spot in the top 10. Kinema Junpo isn’t alone, either. Eastwood is also a six-time winner of both the Mainichi Film Award and Blue Ribbon Awards, which are voted for by critics, as well as the Japan Academy Prize, which appears to be chosen by throwing darts while blindfolded. Anglophone critics still like to joke about Eastwood’s conservative politics and that thing with the chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention, but in Japan he’s afforded far greater respect. In a passionate defense of “The 15:17 to Paris,” published in i-D, Shinsuke Ohdera rails against his American counterparts for treating Eastwood as a “B-movie director cozying up to popular taste,” without acknowledging the complexity and ambiguity of his work. These are the qualities, he argues, that make Eastwood’s films “a perfect fit” for Japan’s distinctive critical culture; there’s nothing unusual here about a literary magazine mentioning him in the same breath as Jean-Luc Godard.
One distinctive trait of Japanese movie criticism that Ohdera doesn’t mention is that it has very little bearing on a film’s wider reception. “Jersey Boys,” Eastwood’s 2014 adaptation of the Broadway musical, snagged both the Blue Ribbon Award and the top spot in Kinema Junpo’s poll, but pulled in just $2.7 million at the box office — compared to $12 million for “Sully,” and $42.9 million for the Japanese-language “Letters from Iwo Jima.”
Without the burden of shaping popular opinion or answering to irate ticket buyers, film criticism in Japan tends to be pretty academic. One of the most influential figures in establishing Eastwood’s reputation has been the great scholar Shigehiko Hasumi, who has been championing the director’s work for decades. It was during Hasumi’s tenure as president of the University of Tokyo that Kinema Junpo really went all-in with Eastwood, proclaiming “Space Cowboys” the best international film of 2000.
That’s right: “Space Cowboys.”
In retrospect, the magazine may merely have jumped the gun by a few years. When Eastwood snagged Oscars for best picture and director for “Unforgiven” in 1993, few could have foreseen that he would repeat the trick a decade later, with “Million Dollar Baby” in 2005. Moreover, that was just one film in a remarkable late-career bloom that’s also included “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Mystic River,” “Changeling,” “Gran Torino,” “American Sniper” and “Sully.”
“Even Yasujiro Ozu and Alfred Hitchcock started imitating themselves toward the end of their careers,” movie critic Takeo Matsuzaki says. “Compared to them, Eastwood is still just as comfortable tackling contemporary or period material, and covering a wide range of genres, from human drama to science fiction.”
He explains that Kinema Junpo’s poll is compiled using a points system, so even if Eastwood isn’t many critics’ first pick for a given year, he may still amass enough votes to get to No. 1. But really: eight No. 1 films? Including “Jersey Boys” and “Space Cowboys”?
“I think it’s odd,” concurs online film critic Kei Onodera. “Obviously he’s a great director, and I rate him highly myself, but the support he’s had from Kinema Junpo does seem excessive.”
It doesn’t help that even Eastwood’s biggest fans sometimes struggle to pin down exactly what it is they like about him. In a 2016 article, Onodera compared it to the experience of eating at a dowdy-looking restaurant that turns out to serve sublimely good grub.
“There’s nothing ostentatious about his approach,” agrees film writer Mutsuo Sato, a self-professed Eastwood lover and Kinema Junpo hater. “People like Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson are doing things that are more cinematically striking and using more state-of-the-art techniques. You could say that Eastwood is old-fashioned.”
“He means different things to different generations,” says Matsuzaki. Younger writers think of Eastwood principally as a director; older ones might more readily associate him with his screen roles in spaghetti westerns, or even with the “Rawhide” TV series that originally made his name. “He’s been all these things while staying at the forefront of the movie industry for half a century. … He’s a unique presence.”
Matsuzaki, incidentally, is one of the writers blurbed on the website for “The 15:17 to Paris,” where he predicts: “Clint Eastwood’s No 1 spot in the top 10 films of 2018 is already secure.”
For a film that’s currently rated 25 percent on the website Rotten Tomatoes, that seems like an outlandish claim. In Japan, however, it may turn out to be correct.
Posted by Clint's archive at 12:04
Saturday, 3 March 2018
Well, would you believe it, exactly 1 year ago to the day I posted a fun little piece from 1969, which was one of Clint’s recipes. Out of pure coincidence I last night found another recipe from Clint, from the following year 1970. It’s so strange how these things sometimes work out…
So, this recipe appeared in a book called Cookbook of the Stars, published by Anderson, Ritchie & Simon and compiled by the Motion Picture Mothers, Inc.; 1st Edition, Hardback (1970). The Motion Picture Mother's Club was formed in 1930, as a small social group. It became an incorporated club, limited to one-hundred members, with "charity" within the industry as the chief purpose. The profits from the sale of this cookbook went into the Motion Picture & Television Relief Fund.
Posted by Clint's archive at 13:29
Friday, 2 March 2018
Photographer-to-the-stars Earl Leaf was known for going behind the scenes with the women of Hollywood's Golden Age, Leaf redefined celebrity portraiture by taking intimate photos that managed to capture, for the very first time, something sensual and true in his female subjects. Leaf partied with the cream of the crop to become the Hollywood insider, a man for whom the professional was always up-close and personal. Here is a selection of Leaf’s early photographs capturing an on-the-rise Clint Eastwood. They were reportedly taken on either June 1st or June 5th, 1956 in Los Angeles, California. Whilst some have probably been seen before, I thought it would be nice to have them all together here.
Born in 1905 in Seattle and raised in San Francisco Earl Leaf spent many years finding his calling. By 1936 he was the North China manager of the United Press Associations (later known as UPI) covering the Sino-Japanese war. Before that he was a cowboy, sailor, prospector, dude rancher, harvest hand, actor, teamster, bookkeeper, Salvation Army cadet, guitar player in a Hawaiian trio in a Panama cabaret, member of the Nevada state legislature, and a journalist on the road covering unemployed migrants for the Reno Journal. During his time covering the war in China he was the only western journalist to interview and photograph Mao and his comrades behind communist lines in 1938. By 1940 he was back in the US (in New York) and was appointed as an advisor to Chinese government’s Central Publicity Board, and was basically China’s PR man in America. During the war Earl served with the OSS a precursor to the CIA but there is little or no documentation as to what he did for them.
After the war Earl decided that he would be both a photographer and a journalist and spent time after the war in New York shooting the city and taking assignments to shoot artists like Martha Graham and then on to France to record life there after the war.
By 1949 Earl had picked up and moved back to the West Coast arriving in Hollywood in the summer of that year. By the Fall earl had his first Hollywood celebrity session shooting the actress Cleo Moore at home. While there were many celebrity shooters in Hollywood at that time earl broke new ground by shooting the starlets at home in their bedrooms usually in a skimpy negligee.
Press agents took notice and soon he was shooting the B list elites like Marilyn Monroe and Clint Eastwood who were under studio contract but hardly household names. It was Earl’s job to get them into the papers and fan magazines.
By the early 50’s earl was well established on the scene shooting both candid sessions (never in a studio) and out on the town hobnobbing with the cream of Hollywood like Bogart and Bacall, Brando, john Wayne etc. all of them would willingly pose for him and ham it up for the camera.
He was welcome everywhere from the Oscars to Ciro’s the Mocambo and the Cocoanut Grove. Unlike almost all of the celebrity photographers of that time Earl not only took the photos but wrote his own stories in the fan magazines and had several syndicated columns. Leaf died in 1980 at the age of 75.
A great deal of Leaf’s early Eastwood shots now belong to The Michael Ochs Archive, located in Los Angeles. The collection contains some 3 million vintage prints, proof sheets and negatives.
Posted by Clint's archive at 17:05
Friday, 16 February 2018
Clint Eastwood: Hollywood’s Loner written by Michael Munn is a book which I remember buying from new. The author was a familiar name due to his regular columns and stories within UK Film magazines such as Photoplay and Film Review. This is quite an easy and enjoyable read. Thompson also had the advantage of interviewing several of Eastwood’s co-stars including Lee Van Cleef, Lee Marvin, Ingrid Pitt, Kay Lenz, Donald Sutherland and Tyne Daly. It is illustrated with two sections of b/w stills. The reproduction of the stills are good and on glossy paper. The book is the regular sized hardback format measuring approx. 15.5 x 23.8 cm and consists of 257 pages. It was first published in England by Robson books; 1st Edition UK edition February, 1992 and covers Clint’s career up through to The Rookie. There are some nice photos used in this book, including a very rarely seen shot from the final fight scene in Play Misty for Me. The front cover (for this 1st edition) features a candid photo of Clint while the back cover features a very nice colour publicity shot of Clint and Jean Seberg from Paint Your Wagon. As for the availability of this book, it varies a great deal. I have seen used copies on Amazon starting from £25.00 and new copies range from £110.00 to a staggering £399.00!!! The book does show up occasionally on Ebay (mostly Pre-owned) and usually with a buy now or starting price of approx. £5.00. The original cover price on the first published edition was £16.95.
Posted by Clint's archive at 21:06
Clint Eastwood: Sexual Cowboy written by Douglas Thompson is a book which I remember buying from new. The author was a familiar name due to his regular stories found within The Sunday Express, The Daily Express and The Mail on Sunday newspapers. As I remember, this is quite an easy and enjoyable read. Thompson also had the advantage of interviewing Eastwood on a number of occasions. It is illustrated with two sections of b/w stills. The reproduction of the stills are good and on glossy paper. The book is the regular sized hardback format measuring approx. 15.5 x 23.8 cm and consists of 216 pages. It was first published in England by Smith Gryphon; 1st Edition UK edition Sept. 1992 and covers Clint’s career up through to The Unforgiven (as the book refers to it). Actually the book also refers to Unforgiven’s original script title as The Cut-Whore Killings rather than The William Munny Killings. There are some nice photos used in this book, including that great shot of Clint with Jo Ann Harris at a screening for The Beguiled. The front cover (for this 1st edition) features a photo of Clint from a session which saw the same image appear on a great deal of magazine publications in the Eighties. However, the paperback edition (below) came with a different cover photo, an even earlier picture dating from around 1976-77. As for the availability of this book, there really shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I have seen used copies (both hardback and softback editions) on Amazon starting as low as 1p. It also shows up regularly on Ebay (mostly Pre-owned) and usually with a buy now price ranging from £2.50 - £15.00 for the Hardback edition. The original cover price on the first published edition was £15.99.
Posted by Clint's archive at 19:59
Clint Eastwood: A Biography written by Minty Clinch is a book which I remember buying from new and thinking for years the author’s name must had been some kind of joke. Then I found out she wrote for the Sunday Times and The Observer newspapers. As I remember, this is quite an enjoyable read. It is illustrated with two sections of b/w stills. The reproduction of the stills are good and on glossy paper. The book is the regular sized hardback format measuring approx. 16.5 x 24.8 cm and consists of 248 pages. It was published in England by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd; First Edition on 1st Sept. 1994 and covers Clint’s career up through to A Perfect World. Most stills used are film based, but there are some nice behind the scenes shots featuring Clint with Jean Seberg playing pool, and a rarely seen photo of Alison and Kyle (with very long hair). The front cover (for this 1st edition) features a photo of Clint and looks to be from the Mayor of Carmel period. However, other re-prints do come with a different cover photo. As for the availability of this book, there really shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I have seen used copies (both hardback and softback editions) on Amazon starting as low as 1p and new copies at £49.99. It also shows up regularly on Ebay (mostly Pre-owned) and usually with a £2-3 buy now price. The original cover price on the first published edition was £15.99.
Posted by Clint's archive at 17:34