Just Above Sunset
July 24, 2005 - Academy Salute To Don Siegel

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On The Scene

July 24, 2005

By Bob Patterson


When a friend called and asked if I wanted to try to go with him and get into the Motion Picture Academy salute to Don Siegel, it was already sold out, so getting into the second maxed out event of the week seemed like a worth challenge.


The Academy in conjunction with the UCLA Film and Television Archive was kicking off a series of screenings of films by don Siegel by having the tribute, which was going to feature one of Siegel's protégés, Clint Eastwood, on the night of July 20, 2005, at their Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Wilshire Boulevard.


The event was hosted by director Curtis Hanson, who showed some clips and discussed them with the special guest, who had worked with Siegel many times.


The two noted that Siegel's experience as a second unit director who worked on montages for about a dozen years before getting his first assignment to direct a film help forge Siegel's style which relied heavily on visuals with a minimum of dialogue. 


They both agreed that one hallmark of Siegel's style was his insistence on the safety of the stuntmen and pointed out that they though he had a perfect record for that.


They gave the audience a heads-up to watch, in the evening's featured film, to watch for Charlie Buckholtz, the gas meter reader, who was played by Sam Peckinpah.


The clips included bits from: Riot in Cell Block 11, Dirty Harry, The Killers, The Beguiled, and Escape from Alcatraz.  Another clip was from Play Misty for Me and was selected because the director of that film was Eastwood and Don Siegel was one of the actors. 


Eastwood selected the 1956 film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as the one to kick the series off.  The film tells the story of an invasion by creatures from outer space who take over the lives of earthlings and assume their identical physical form. 


At a time when the phrase "Have you no sense of decency…" was a catch phrase in American politics, the film's theme about a loss of emotions and humanity struck a chord and the film was very popular.  One could easily imagine that folks who have never seen this film before, could project some modern considerations onto the work of cinematic art which almost 50 years old. 


The film's lead actor, Kevin McCarthy was on hand for the screening, and mentioned afterward that he didn't like it when the film was referred to as a "B-movie."


The film series will continue at UCLA. 




Copyright © 2005 – Robert Patterson

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Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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