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Author Topic: MAGNUM FORCE: Style & Technique 1. Post's Direction  (Read 4022 times)
KC
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« on: December 28, 2003, 12:25:21 AM »

Ted Post had first worked with Eastwood as a director on Rawhide. Eastwood chose Post, despite much opposition from the studio, to direct his first American film, Hang 'em High. A very grateful Post credited Eastwood with reviving his film career, which had floundered after a decade of television work. The Post/Eastwood relationship, however, deteriorated during the filming of Magnum Force. A director in his own right now, Eastwood was more vocal in vetoing Post's creative choices and even stepped in to direct some of the scenes himself. Eastwood also, according to Post, re-edited footage of the film without consulting him. Post later complained that as all these details leaked to the press, his reputation and career were ruined. It would be their last collaboration together. (Source: Richard Schickel's biography, Clint Eastwood, p. 302-303.)

What do you think of Post's direction of Magnum Force? List the strengths and any weaknesses, including anything you find particularly striking about the film's visual style: camera placement, lighting, point of view, length of shots, etc. Also, are there any scenes in which you noticed Eastwood's apparent influence most strongly, or that you feel he may have directed himself? If so, which ones? How does the directing of Magnum Force rate against Post's directing of Hang 'em High? What similarities in style, if any, do you notice?
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Christopher
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2003, 01:42:54 PM »

I don't know which scenes had Eastwood's influence in them, but I would say that the movie is a step up from Hang 'em High for Ted Post. I recall from the discussion about Hang 'em High, that the movie looked like a TV movie. Magnum Force has a more cinematic quality to it. It probably wouldn't be fair to say that this is because Eastwood had more of a say in the filming of it than what he had with Hang 'em High. Afterall, a few years had past since their earlier film they made together. I'm sure there was time for Post to develop as a film director.

One camera placement that stood out to me was when the camera was mounted on the side of the motorcycle.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2003, 01:44:17 PM by Christopher » Logged
D'Ambrosia
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2004, 04:09:20 PM »

I hated Hang 'Em High direction.  Shot out of a cannon look. :-\   Magnum Force is clearly a step up from that but I can tell that the Panavision lenses of the earlier '70's  had ALOT to do with that.  The car chase scene at the end and the stakeout scene standout to me to be influenced by Eastwood
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2004, 06:06:17 AM »

Thanks to everyone for participating in this discussion. This topic is now closed, please post any additional thoughts in the Dirty Harry forum.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2011, 08:55:31 PM »

This topic has been temporarily unlocked.  Feel free to post any additional thoughts or discussion here.
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2011, 11:35:01 PM »

I did like Post's well directed Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)  I think he did a superb job in the second ape movie but it's hard to judge his work on Magnum Force if Clint stepped in to direct some of the scenes himself.

« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 11:36:44 PM by TWOMULES » Logged
The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2011, 11:40:44 AM »

it's hard to judge his work on Magnum Force if Clint stepped in to direct some of the scenes himself.

Good point.

Does anyone know how much of the film did Clint finish up directing?
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KC
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« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2011, 11:54:17 AM »

If I get time later on, I'll post some excerpts from Schickel's book. Clint did direct the car scene with Hal Holbrook ... there was no room in that car for Post!
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KC
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« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2011, 07:36:32 PM »

OK, here is an excerpt from Schickel's Clint Eastwood, p. 302-303.

Quote
Ted Post ... to this day remains unhappy, not to say bitter, about that outcome [the box office success of Magnum Force]. His troubles began on the set, where, he says, he found Clint to be a changed man since Hang 'em High. Formerly he had been treated as a mentor; now he felt he was being treated as a hired hand.

A visiting reporter caught the essence of this revised relationship, without sensing its underlying tension. She observed Clint working out a camera angle with cinematographer Frank Stanley while Post stood by saying, "Whichever way you want it." She then quoted Post: "He hasn't changed since I first knew him. He was just the same in Rawhide days, always supplying imaginative ideas. I'm not an auteur director. I'm interested and happy working with someone who collaborates and contributes ."

One can almost hear the gnashing of teeth. For there were few equivalents on this picture to the "Clintus-Siegelini" give-and-take, and Post deeply resented it when Clint took over the direction of several scenes or countermanded some of his suggestions to other actors. At one point, Post remembers Clint saying to him, "You have to learn to let go," which particularly outraged him.

Clint expresses puzzlement over Post's unhappiness. He continues to regard him affectionately and respectfully, and looks back on Magnum Force as a congenial collaboration. It is difficult to reconcile this disparity, but one suspects that it began with a failure on both sides to address forthrightly the change in their relative status since they had last worked together.

In that interim, Clint's career had clearly flourished while Post's had not. Clint was now an experienced director in his own right. He was also, in a much fuller sense than he had been on Hang 'em High, the film's producer, therefore its ultimate source of authority. Most important of all, he was now in full possession of a highly defined screen character, the presentation of which he knew more about than anyone.

None of this, it appears, did the headstrong Post take into account.

Thus Clint's "helpfulness" in taking over some scenes—it is always his tendency simply to do what needs doing, rather than discuss it—seemed to Post a challenge to his authority. So did the fact that he ignored Post's proposals that he impart more animation to a performance the director judged "draggy." Having known him best at a very different  stage of Clint's career, Post just could not see what Clint's costar, Hal Holbrook, easily perceived, namely that "that silent containment of his is his most powerful instrument."

Holbrook says that he sensed no overt tension between director and star on the set. "They consulted on everything," he says, though he also remembers being "surprised that Clint directed as much as he did." This included his major scene with Clint, the confrontation in the car. There were cameras mounted on both front fenders, and a soundman crouched in the backseat with his equipment, leaving no room for the director. It turned out to be, for Holbrook, a memorable experience, because besides directing and acting, Clint was driving, navigating the vehicle through freeway traffic, rendering him more unfocused on his role than usual. "He'd stop in the middle of a speech, not liking the way he was saying it," Holbrook recalls. Naturally, Clint would apologize for breaking his partner's rhythm, but still it was, Holbrook says, "like getting ready to jump over a gap between cliffs and somebody grabbing you just as you were ready to go." Yet it all worked out in the end. It is by far the best scene in the movie.

If Post's grievances were confined to the not-unusual push-and-shove of star and director on a set, he would probably not be quite so bitter as he is today. But he is convinced that Magnum Force harmed his reputation: "Because this kind of phony rumor got around, saying, 'Oh, Clint directed the whole thing.' And that's what hurt my career. I was soaring, ready to bounce into the big time." Then, suddenly, as he tells it, he couldn't get a job in features.

Post somehow blames Clint, though he admits that no one who repeated these bad reports ever attributed them to him. But this is highly unlikely; it is not the way Clint does business. Even in instances where problems on the set were more serious than they were here, Clint has always remained silent—or protectively evasive—about their causes. What seems more likely is that others working on Magnum Force exaggerated their differences. It happens; people working within the small, closed world of a movie location tend to improve their stories in retelling them to outsiders; it makes them appear more knowing and important.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2011, 10:09:26 PM »

Thanks for posting that, KC. :)
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