Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The passing of country legend, Glen Campbell

Country music legend Glen Campbell passed away yesterday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

One of the giants of country music has died. Glen Campbell passed away yesterday at the age of 81 after a six year battle with Alzheimer’s. His family released this statement: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell.”

Although he’ll always be known as a country artist, that’s really selling him short. Glen could do everything. He started as a guitarist who joined the wrecking crew in 1961. They were a group of L.A. session musicians that worked nonstop.


In 1963 alone Glen played on 586 songs. The list of artists he played with through the years included Frank Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, the Mamas and the Papas, and the Beach Boys. He even toured with the Beach Boys in 1964 when Brian Wilson went on hiatus. Singing is what made him famous. His first hit was “Gentle on my Mind” in 1967. And then the hits kept coming: “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston”, “Southern Nights”, and “Rhinestone Cowboy”.
He became a TV star in 1969 when he hosted “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour”. He did a little acting too, co-starring with John Wayne in the original “True Grit”, and he played himself in Clint Eastwood’s “Any Which Way You Can”. Campbell also sang the title track to Any Which Way You Can which appeared on the soundtrack album and was also released as a single. The song was a Top-10 hit on the country music charts.
Campbell in Any which way you can (1980)
Glen sold over 45 million records, received 11 Grammys, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. 
Even his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2011 didn’t stop him. He decided to bring light to the disease by doing interviews, making appearances, and launching his Goodbye Tour. His final studio album, “Adios”, was released in June.

Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go out to his family.


The Clint Eastwood Archive 
Clint with Glen Campbell February 2000 at the AT&T Pro-Am golf tour Pebble Beach from Country Weekly Magazine

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly location reborn in Spain


BBC News published a story today on the Sand Hill Unearthed project which has been made into a full length documentary by our friend, filmmaker Guillermo de Oliveira.  The story was reported by Guy Hedgecoe in Burgos, Spain.

C├ędric Biscay dons a poncho and places a cheroot in his mouth. Behind, the hills and rocky escarpments of Burgos, in northern Spain, shimmer in the summer heat. And all around him is a place he had only ever seen before on the movie screen: Sad Hill cemetery, site of the final showdown in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the 1966 western directed by Sergio Leone.
In that scene, the characters played by Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach meet in the cemetery for a three-way duel that will decide who gets to keep the gold buried in one of the graves.
"I feel like I'm in the movie!" says Mr Biscay, who is visiting from Monaco, after wandering around the cemetery and admiring its central paved circle and the hundreds of wooden crosses surrounding it. Nearby are props from the movie's final moments: a noose hanging from a solitary tree.
"This is such an important place for me," he explains. "I've watched the movie four times a year for the last 30 years, so yes, I'm a big fan."

But two years ago, Sad Hill looked nothing like this. There were no crosses to be seen and cows roamed across the site, which looked like just another overgrown, grassy meadow. The cemetery had been created solely for the purposes of the movie, much of which was filmed in this area of Spain. Then Sad Hill was forgotten for nearly five decades.
But in 2014, a group of local people decided to restore the site to its former glory. They called themselves the Sad Hill Cultural Association and after locating the exact cemetery spot, with the help of photographs from the film's final scene, in 2015 they set about the painstaking process of excavating the site.
"At the start it seemed like it was going to be impossible, but bit by bit people from other provinces of Spain, other towns, and even other countries, came to help us rebuild the cemetery and it snowballed," says David Alba, the 35-year-old president of the association. Aficionados could help finance the project by paying €15 (£13; $18) to have their name painted onto one of the wooden crosses.
Mr Alba remembers a key moment early in the excavation.
"We were digging in the ground and we saw that underneath the earth were the original stones of the central circle of the site, the place where all the actors, the director and all the technicians had walked across during the filming," he says. "It was like digging in the ground and finding treasure."
Documenting the entire process was filmmaker Guillermo de Oliveira (Right). He has recently finished filming a documentary, Sad Hill Unearthed, telling the story of the cemetery's restoration. It is due for release later this year. Several celebrity fans of the original western feature in the documentary, such as James Hetfield, the singer of heavy metal band Metallica, and Gremlins director Joe Dante. In addition, there are interviews with some of the key personalities from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly itself, including composer Ennio Morricone and Eastwood, who declared himself delighted that the cemetery had been restored.
The Sad Hill Cultural Association now stages concerts and other events at the cemetery, which is drawing increasing numbers of visitors from Spain and abroad. For many of them it is a chance to see the location of what Oliveira describes as "one of the most important scenes in the whole history of cinema". Leone, he explains, masterfully used the eerie location and Morricone's music to generate several minutes of heart-stopping suspense as Eastwood, Van Cleef and Wallach glared at each other before drawing their guns. Oliveira and his team also tracked down a number of locals who were extras in the western.

For them, and the younger volunteers who have rebuilt the Sad Hill site, the whole exercise has blurred the boundaries between reality and cinema, says Luisa Cowell, producer of the Sad Hill Unearthed documentary.
"Most of the volunteers had seen the film when they were children, with their families, their father or grandfather, so it has marked their lives, it's something that is very special to them," she says.
"So they all went there with the intention of unearthing a piece of something that for them is real - it's not fiction for them anymore, it becomes real," she adds. "And once they unearth it and they find the stones it becomes even more of a reality and they become part of this reality."

Thank You to David Vernall-Downes for sending me this story

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Clint’s debut on UK Video cassette

Intervision's opening video Logo
I was chatting with a few friends last night, reminiscing about the beginning of the Video revolution here in the UK. Naturally the subject got on to Clint, and we were discussing those wonderful big box Warner Home Video releases. It appears that most of us began our collections with one of those releases. I can remember vividly my own first purchase, Dirty Harry. Back then they were in a great large case and we had the pleasure of enjoying the film in a panned and scanned format (oh the joy). 

But I reminded my colleges that Clint’s arrival on VHS / Betamax (and V2000) in the UK actually came courtesy of Intervision video.  


Intervison was one of the earliest VHS labels in the UK. Managed by Mike Tenner and Richard Cooper, the company distributed major film releases (namely those from United Artists) as well as horror films through Alpha Video. The company eventually folded following the rise of major VHS distributors in the UK, but not before they released The Good, the bad and the ugly (UA A B5010) in 1980. I remember the campaign quite well, and the whole TV campaign that ran on UK television. I remember a number of clips contained in that advert alongside The Good, the bad and the ugly, such as Network, Carrie, The Exterminator, Lenny and I think I recall Rollerball.


The packaging came in the shape of a cardboard slip case and the film was of course panned and scanned, which was something of a travesty when it came to Sergio Leone's beautifully crafted vision. I could never recall if these titles could be bought at the time? The sleeve always seem to have ‘rental only’ which probably explains why there are very few of them floating around to purchase. Perhaps some were sold off as ex-rentals once they were worn down to the bone? However, it did prompt me to go and dig out the wonderful cover (front and spines) which I have in my collection. One of the spines is a little worse for wear; remember these were made of card (and it is some 37 years old now). But I did a quick digital restoration on it before presenting it here. It is near impossible to find a good image or a scan of the packaging anywhere on the internet, so I wanted to change that. I suppose it represents a little piece of history in some respects. It was Clint’s first film ever to be available on the new format and could be watched at any given time. It certainly would shape things in respect of how we would come to view movies and arguably signified something of a revolution.