Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist

Clint Eastwood Interview -

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clint Eastwood Book

Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood got a little more attention after he shot 28 people in 98 minutes in a 'Fistful of Dollars'. At the end of that film made a disquieting 30 years ago he rode off into the sunset on a mule. He should have been on a thoroughbred.

If not the start it was the foundation of a career which has been box office and, more recently, Oscar heavy.It is a credible achievement if you recall it was built on a razor-challenged character in a poncho munching cigarillos. Also, he was not just The Man With No Name but The Man With No Dialogue. In the Sergio Leone pasta panics it was all grunts and guns.

Now, Eastwood, action man, 'Dirty Harry', the chilly-eyed icon of the Vietnam era, the iced-water peeing killer of his Oscar-bonanza 'Unforgiven', an actor who has established himself as a major Hollywood power-broker by spilling other people's blood and guts on screen, who made his name and millions in the gunslinger genre, has gone mushy on us.

If not 'The Railway Children' his latest movie is close. Eastwood is the director and co-star with Meryl Streep of 'The Bridges of Madison County'. The story is so sentimental and romantic the clever among us should be buying Kleenex shares for it is more make-me-weep than make-my-day.

The film based on Robert James Waller's cloying and manipulative novel -- whatever your view it has become one of the biggest international hardback sellers of all time -- was an instant Tinseltown tidbit. Steven Spielberg won the auction for the rights.

And from the moment Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment announced production plans the guessing game began over who would play the sensitive, understanding, rugged individualist National Geographic photographer who has a brief but passionate affair with a lonely Iowa farmwoman in the 1960s.

The cinema audience is guaranteed. Even if the film barks there are millions worldwide who will pay to see it. In America alone there have been 60 printings of 'The Bridges of Madison County', more than ten million copies of the 171-page love story have been sold and since publication in 1992 it has been on the New York Times bestseller list.

This is over-the-rainbow goldust material. Of course, everyone wanted their fingers in this particular pot. Robert Redford, Michael Douglas and Harrison Ford were the first names for the role of photographer Robert Kincaid..

Choices for the woman who mists his lens, the Italian-born war bride Francesca Johnson, ran riot: Anjelica Huston,Lena Olin, Sonia Braga,Peralla August, Mary McDonnell, Annette Bening, Isabella Rossellini, Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mercedes Ruehl and Kate Capshaw (aka Mrs Steven Spielberg).

The casting took longer than the novel's four-days of loving which results in 24 years of wondering and yearning. With hindsight Eastwood and Streep seem a perfect match. But Clint as sensitive man?

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