News: Having trouble registering?  Please feel free to contact us at help[at]clinteastwood.org.  We will help you get an account set up.


0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this board.
« previous next »
Pages: [1] Go Down Print
Author Topic: William Goldman, R.I.P.  (Read 305 times)
KC
Administrator
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 31570


Control ...


View Profile WWW Email
« on: November 18, 2018, 10:50:46 PM »

William Goldman, the legendary screenwriter, has died at the age of 87.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/16/obituaries/william-goldman-dead.html

He and Clint only worked together once, on 1997's Absolute Power. I'm sure they both would say it's not their best work. But the published edition of the screenplay (New York : Applause Books, 1997) is worth getting for Goldman's introduction.

It begins, "Absolute Power is the hardest screenplay I have ever written."

Goldman talks about wrestling with the book for nearly a year before Clint was involved, without finding a good solution to the various problems he saw in transferring the story to the screen. In particular, he couldn't settle on a character to be the star. Luther wasn't an option, because in the book, he dies halfway through. I'll quote a couple of pages:

Quote
SETH, by elimination, became my star.

There was still the problem of his not solving all that much. But I figured I could help that by giving him stuff to do that had belonged to other characters in the novel and the first draft.

One of the ways I did this was by giving him a family. … The family was a way to keep SETH around, and also to get rid of exposition that other characters carried earlier. And it made SETH vulnerable so, near the end, when he is closing in on RICHMOND, the President has BURTON and COLLIN send him a message by instructing them to hurt his family. Which they do, driving them off the road, putting ELAINE and the TWINS into the hospital. So SETH has a huge emotional score to settle when in the last scene, he visits the White House and brings RICHMOND down.

Not Shakespearean, no. But maybe an improvement over the first draft. And SETH was now at the center of pretty much everything possible. I had certainly written a star part which was primarily what I meant to do.

I sent it out. Fingers very much crossed.

Because this draft was going to Clint Eastwood. His agent had called while I was writing this draft and indicated he wouldn't mind taking a look at this draft when it was done.

I was desperate to work with Eastwood, had been for decades. He is quietly having one of the very greatest careers. Along with John Wayne, the two most durable stars in history. Plus plus plus the directing.

Eastwood as SETH - set the blood racing.

I had given them something. So at last we had something to change.

Little did he know...

THIRD DRAFT

December, 1995.

The second draft got out to Castle Rock around the 20th of October. Their reaction was good — not terrific but certainly good — and they were very appreciative about the amount of work that had gone into changing it.

Now, nothing to do but wait for Eastwood.

On the first of November Martin Shafer called to report that Eastwood definitely was reading it.

Then he called later that day and this is what he said. Eastwood had already read it. He thought it was absolutely OK.

But—

—big but—

—he had already played guys like SETH and didn't want to play that character again—

—now Shafer dropped the shoe —

EASTWOOD was interested in playing LUTHER. He thought LUTHER was a terrific character but—

—amazingly huge but

Eastwood wanted LUTHER to live and to bring down the President.

I was rocked.

During these days of waiting my fantasies of writing a movie for Clint Eastwood grew out of all control. I was even more desperate to work with him —

—I simply didn't know if I could write it.

But write it he does. Goldman goes on to describe how all the various unsolvable problems got solved, to both his and Eastwood's satisfaction, and he ends:

Quote
I have seen the finished film as I write this and you will decide what you think of it. But I can tell you this: I'm sure glad I'm involved.

There, now you know everything.


Norman Mailer, center, presented the writing Oscars to Mr. Goldman, left, for “All the President’s Men” (best adapted screenplay) and Paddy Chayefsky for “Network” (best original screenplay) at the 1977 Academy Awards. Credit: Pendergrass/Associated Press

From Sasha Stone's obituary on the Awards Daily site:

Quote
Where to even start with William Goldman. I’ll start here. When I first began my site the tagline was “Nobody knows anything.” I think it remained so for about a decade. I can’t think of anyone I admired more in the movie business when I first started than William Goldman. So bright, so funny, so willing to jab a dagger into the heart of bull$#!t that Hollywood ran itself by. I’m such a fan of Goldman’s that I’ve watched Absolute Power, directed by Clint Eastwood, multiple times and All the President’s Men remains in my top five of all time. Goldman was a once in a generation mind and talent.

http://www.awardsdaily.com/2018/11/16/saying-goodbye-to-william-goldman-who-might-as-well-take-all-of-hollywood-with-him/

R.I.P.

Logged
palooka
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 565



View Profile Email
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2018, 01:26:29 AM »

Great writer. The Princess Bride is my all time favourite movie, and one of my favourite books. RIP.
Logged

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Christopher
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Online Online

Posts: 6324


The real me


View Profile Email
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2018, 07:29:52 AM »

I didn't know William Goldman wrote Absolute Power.

I also didn't know that Eastwood was originally going to play Seth!
Logged
KC
Administrator
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 31570


Control ...


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2018, 08:24:41 AM »

That Clint would play Seth was Goldman's idea ... Clint never wanted to play anyone but Luther. ;)
Logged
Hocine
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 110


View Profile Email
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2018, 06:06:16 PM »

William Goldman was a great screenwriter.
Among all the scripts he wrote, my favourite one is Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.
Absolute Power is probably not his best work but is still watchable and enjoyable.
I think that all the actors gave good performances: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Judy Davis, Scott Glenn, Dennis Haysbert and Melora Harding.
Unfortunately, the weakness comes from the script itself.
Especially the ending.
Absolute Power came after three true masterpieces:
Unforgiven, A Perfect World and The Bridges of Madison County.
It wasn't easy to do better.
Clint didn't want to play Seth Frank.
One of the reasons Clint made Absolute is the father - daughter relationship.
Alison Eastwood and Kimber Eastwood even made a cameo.
Logged
Christopher
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Online Online

Posts: 6324


The real me


View Profile Email
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2018, 10:08:29 AM »

That Clint would play Seth was Goldman's idea ... Clint never wanted to play anyone but Luther. ;)
Oh, okay, so just how Goldman was picturing it.
Logged
AKA23
Classic Member
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2795



View Profile Email
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2018, 10:11:10 AM »

I like "Absolute Power" better than most other Eastwood fans do. I think it's actually quite a good film, up until the end, when it falls apart. It's simply not credible that Sullivan could murder the President of the United States in the White House without the Secret Service rushing in and stopping him. After all, that's exactly what happened in the beginning of the film with Christy. It's also not credible that the White House/police would accept Sullivan's explanation that the President committed suicide out of nowhere. The ending was also quite abrupt and underdeveloped. However, I don't really know that I could have done a better job. Does anyone have an idea of what a better ending would be? What would you have liked to see instead?

I also think the relationship between Kate and Luther was quite affecting and heartfelt. Laura Linney was a great choice for the role and their relationship felt very authentic to me. I also enjoyed Ed Harris' performance, and really enjoy the musical score. In my opinion, Luther Whitney is one of Eastwood's most interesting characters, and Luther has some great one-liners in the film! 
Logged
Hocine
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 110


View Profile Email
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2018, 03:53:57 AM »

I like "Absolute Power" better than most other Eastwood fans do. I think it's actually quite a good film, up until the end, when it falls apart. It's simply not credible that Sullivan could murder the President of the United States in the White House without the Secret Service rushing in and stopping him. After all, that's exactly what happened in the beginning of the film with Christy. It's also not credible that the White House/police would accept Sullivan's explanation that the President committed suicide out of nowhere. The ending was also quite abrupt and underdeveloped. However, I don't really know that I could have done a better job. Does anyone have an idea of what a better ending would be? What would you have liked to see instead?

I also think the relationship between Kate and Luther was quite affecting and heartfelt. Laura Linney was a great choice for the role and their relationship felt very authentic to me. I also enjoyed Ed Harris' performance, and really enjoy the musical score. In my opinion, Luther Whitney is one of Eastwood's most interesting characters, and Luther has some great one-liners in the film!

I agree with you, AKA23.
I like Absolute Power too. I think that the ending is abrupt like you said but still ok.
I don’t pretend that I could find a better ending.
Sometimes I just imagine what would look the movie like, if Clint played Seth Frank.
Clint probably didn’t want the ending to be too politically correct.
This movie came out some months before the Monica Lewinsky issue.
So, in many ways, it made sense.
I noticed that many movies released in 1996-1997 introduced President of the USA as a good guy and a hero:
Independence Day, Deep Impact, Air Force One. In Mars Attacks, he was more ambiguous.
But only Absolute Power introduced him as a real bad guy. It was interesting and daring.

Logged
Christopher
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Online Online

Posts: 6324


The real me


View Profile Email
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2018, 10:10:40 AM »

I noticed that many movies released in 1996-1997 introduced President of the USA as a good guy and a hero:
Independence Day, Deep Impact, Air Force One. In Mars Attacks, he was more ambiguous.
But only Absolute Power introduced him as a real bad guy. It was interesting and daring.
Murder at 1600 was from that time period as well, but it's been so long since I've seen it I don't remember how the president was in it.

I've always enjoyed Absolute Power too.

Roger Ebert gave it a really good review, which might be interesting for some of you. https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/absolute-power-1997
Logged
KC
Administrator
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 31570


Control ...


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2018, 07:57:41 PM »

I've always enjoyed Absolute Power too.

Roger Ebert gave it a really good review, which might be interesting for some of you. https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/absolute-power-1997

Yes, a really nice review, and in the second paragraph quoted below, he highlights Goldman's role without mentioning him by name.

Quote
Eastwood as director is usually eclipsed by Eastwood the actor; he has directed almost 20 films, good enough and successful enough to make him one of Hollywood's top filmmakers, and yet his stardom overshadows that role. Here he creates scenes of pure moviemaking--scenes without dialogue or violence, that work only because we know the characters and because the direction, camera work (by Jack N. Green) and editing (Joel Cox) put them together into suspenseful montages. The opening sequence is especially effective.

But at the end what I remembered most was the relationship between father and daughter. By using this personal story as an arc to draw together the other elements in the film, Eastwood does a difficult thing: He makes a thriller that is not upstaged by its thrills. Luther Whitney is a genuinely interesting, complicated character--not just an action figure. What happens to him matters to us, and that's worth more than all the special effects in the world.

I enjoy a lot of things about Absolute Power. My main problem has always been with the casting of Gene Hackman as the president. It seemed to me that the way it was written, the actor playing the president should have been a younger, more charismatic type. Hackman was believable as a sleazy villain. He was less believable as the idol of adoring masses, and the sex partner of a young, beautiful woman who already had all the wealth she could possibly want ... and given her husband's position as the president's closest backer and advisor, next to all the proximity to power she could want, as well. But looking at how things stand nowadays ... maybe that part of it wasn't as far-fetched as I thought.
Logged
AKA23
Classic Member
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2795



View Profile Email
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2018, 09:11:46 AM »

I have always agreed with KC on this. Gene Hackman was miscast, for the reasons that she stated. I wonder why Eastwood thought of him to play the President, since there's nothing about the role that screamed Gene Hackman is the perfect guy for this! 
Logged
Hocine
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 110


View Profile Email
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2018, 04:27:59 PM »

I have always agreed with KC on this. Gene Hackman was miscast, for the reasons that she stated. I wonder why Eastwood thought of him to play the President, since there's nothing about the role that screamed Gene Hackman is the perfect guy for this!

In Absolute Power, Gene Hackman’s character is similar to the character he played in No Way Out (1987), a film starring Kevin Costner.
I think that Clint considered Hackman as one of the best actors in America.
After his great portrayal of Little Bill Daggett (by Hackman), Clint probably wanted to work with Gene Hackman again.
Unfortunately, in Absolute Power, he wasn’t as convincing  as in Unforgiven.
His best scene was the dance scene with Judy Davis.
After Unforgiven and his Oscar for Best Supporting male role, Gene Hackman’s career went down, in spite of his roles in Wyatt Earp, Geronimo, The Quick and the Dead, USS Alabama, Enemy of State, The Birdcage, Get Shorty, The Tennenbaum Family. He remaines a great actor.
Logged
Hocine
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 110


View Profile Email
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2018, 04:34:00 PM »

Murder at 1600 was from that time period as well, but it's been so long since I've seen it I don't remember how the president was in it.

I've always enjoyed Absolute Power too.

Roger Ebert gave it a really good review, which might be interesting for some of you. https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/absolute-power-1997

Murder at 1600, was it the movie starring Wesley Snipes ?
I haven’t seen it but I heard about it when it was released.
It’s probably not so far from Absolute Power.
It must be a story of conspiracy or something.
Logged
Christopher
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Online Online

Posts: 6324


The real me


View Profile Email
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2018, 06:45:30 PM »

Yes, that's the one. Wesley Snipes starred in it.
Logged
Pages: [1] Go Up Print 
 




C L I N T E A S T W O O D . N E T