Richard Schickel tells a great story that reveals Clint Eastwood’s loyalty to Warner Brothers; it’s a tale few see in the entertainment industry, where players change agents as fast as their wives and “A list” actors get thrown under the bus after a subpar opening weekend.
Film has always been a major role in The Luncheon Society. Whether it was Roger Ebert talking about the Oscars right before he fell ill in 2006, John Sayles discussing The Graduate while sitting next to the film’s producer Larry Turman, or Academy Award winner Lee Grant walking us through her struggles with the Hollywood Blacklist in the 1950’s, film is the keyhole that best understands the American psyche, complete with our catalogued strengths and weaknesses.
Schickel is one of the preeminent film historians in the industry and has reviewed films for Time and Life Magazine for the better part of four decades. Earlier this year, he penned a wonderful piece in Vanity Fair about Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, and how their partnership cemented Raging Bull as a film classic. Schickel has authored over 30 books, produced, written and directed over 30 documentary films; and is found on the commentaries of over 40 DVDs. He holds an honorary doctorate from The American Film Institute, won a British Film Institute Prize, based on his contribution to the art form. Richard’s latest book, a retrospective on Clint Eastwood’s long career with Warner Brothers, was published several weeks ago to wonderful reviews. We were thankful for the intercession of our friend Erika Schickel who put “the arm” on her father to meet The Luncheon Society.
Go ahead, make my movie. According to Schickel, after completing three “Dirty Harry” features during the 1970’s, Eastwood and his production company wanted to give the franchise a break and explore new ideas. He politely begged off repeated requests by Warner’s executive team to produce and direct another installment.
However during the early 1980’s, Warners made a number of ill-timed investments which included purchase of Atari. For awhile, the video game company flourished but soon tanked badly and dragged the Warner stock down nearly 70% from the previous high. Senior management was in deep trouble and Clint Eastwood had a long relationship to protect. Everybody knew that another Dirty Harry sequel would be smash hit and it would staunch the hemorrhaging on Warner’s balance sheet. This time, Eastwood agreed to move forward.
The rest was history; the movie was called Sudden Impact and Eastwood’s signature line, “Go ahead, make my day,” became the 6th most memorable line in a film according to the American Film Institute. Most importantly, the box office receipts helped Warners out of a tough scrape.