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Author Topic: PAINT THE TOWN RED  (Read 19431 times)
REDSHEDDAVE
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« on: February 14, 2003, 03:17:05 PM »

 IN WHICH MOVIE DOES THE WHOLE TOWN GET PAINTED "RED"??
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I wonder what took her so long to get 'red' ?
KC
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2003, 03:30:59 PM »

That would be High Plains Drifter.  8)

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sjackson
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2003, 03:35:06 PM »

The town was painted red in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER to symbolize HELL.  :)
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right turn...Clyde.
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2003, 02:15:35 PM »

Interesting to note that a whole town was created for this movie right on the banks of Mono Lake in California.  :)
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2003, 02:20:25 PM »

One of my customers owns that land -- it's even mentioned in the closing credits of HPD (the owner, that is).
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2003, 07:39:09 PM »

I heard from "REDSHEDDAVE" who posted the original query, via e-mail. He's an artist named David Shepherd; he's also a professor in Fine Art at the University of Wales in Cardiff. He told me, "I had this image in my mind and wanted to use it as part of an idea for a sculptural installation." He asked me if I could provide some further details about the film, "particularly the painted town scene which is inspiring my project."

Here's what I told him:

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Eastwood said this about the town in an interview with Richard Thompson and Tim Hunter in Film Comment, Jan.-Feb. 1978 (it's reprinted in Clint Eastwood: Interviews, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999, which I co-edited):

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[Eastwood:] Yeah, on the second picture they [the studio] left me completely alone. But it was a western, High Plains Drifter. They argued with me very little. Their first suggestion was that we make it on the back lot—they always do, because Universal owns the back lot. With smog. So I say, "Nope, we’re gonna go away and build this very inexpensive western town, looking sparse." So Ferris Webster [Eastwood’s house editor] and I went up to Mono Lake [California] and did it, even did initial editing there; we did final editing back in L.A....

I wanted to get an off-look to it rather than a conventional western look. It was written for a typical, middle-of-the-desert, Monument Valley town. I was trying to find someplace on the water: I looked at Lake Powell, Pyramid Lake, and Mono Lake. Mono Lake has a weird look to it, a lot of strange colors—never looks the same way twice during the day. And it has such a high saline content, nobody’ll put a boat in it, so you don’t have to worry about waterskiers in the background.

I picked a spot up there and we built a little town, interiors, exteriors, all together. Shot the picture in five weeks.

[Interviewers:] An abstract-looking town: no railroad, no industry, no reason for the town to be there.

[Eastwood:] Just that it’s fresh water, and most towns would be on water as opposed to the conventional western where the town is out in the middle of someplace nobody’d want to live.

The set designer was the venerable Hollywood veteran Henry Bumstead, who had worked with Hitchcock on Vertigo. He said this in an interview with Fuensanta Plaza (in Plaza's Clint Eastwood: Malpaso, Carmel Valley, Ca., c1991, p. 51):

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"We had to bring all our lumber, supplies, and set dressing from the studios," remembered Bumstead. "Every interior set in the film was built on location. All the walls were movable for filming, the interiors of the saloon, hotel, barber shop, offices, gun shop, everything. The advantage of designing and building a set, whether on location or in the studio, is that you can compose for the camera—on location you have to take things as you find them, more or less. ... I may have been influenced by Walker Evans, the photographer of the 30s, for the composition, the general feeling," added Bumstead. "But it all went so quickly, there wasn't much time to reflect about it."

The film had to be shot more or less in sequence, because the town had to be first painted red, and then burned down. There's a bit more about the production history in Richard Schickel's biography, Clint Eastwood (1996), p. 287 ff., but I haven't got time to copy it just now.

I hope this much helps!


Mr. Shepherd wrote again to thank me for my help and said that his exhibition would be in Bristol, this coming April, so if any of you are nearby, why not go have a look!

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