The first film directed by Clint Eastwood, appears in cinemas. The opportunity to (re)discover the beginnings of a work in preparation, to complex, ambiguous, and rich. But not only since A SHUDDER IN THE NIGHT is also a prototype of the thriller psychotic that was going to explode on screens in the second half of the 80s.
1970, Clint Eastwood is close to 40 years, but its status as a phenomenon on the big screen is recent. A mere five years. Capitalizing on the trilogy of Sergio Leone, the actor has not yet chained to the big success apart from Hang them High and Short (Ted Post, 1968) for which he created his own production company, Malpaso (always active), history of better control of his choices. Hardly out of the tempestuous shoot of Kelly’s Heroes (Brian G. Hutton) and while his career seems to be stagnating, Clint Eastwood wants to change that. Show other facets of his talent and above all, get behind the camera. To satisfy his ambitions as a filmmaker, his choice falls on the script of a stranger, Jo Heim, titled A CHILL IN THE NIGHT and acquired by his associate Irving L. Leonard.
Unfortunately, the latter died some time later leaving Eastwood distraught. The filming is planned of Prey (Don Siegel) is then like a disastrous. He played a corporal in the north wounded during the american civil war, collected in a girls ‘boarding school before being tortured by his” hosts “. After the last shooting, it is his own father, who collapses. Heart attack. Clint Eastwood is devastated but does not change his plans. He continued to work and lunge headlong into the adventure of his first feature film, and then The Inspector Harry that he is considering it rather as a recreation fun. During this time, The Prey comes out on the screens, but the registry change is brutal to the public. Risky bet the film will win little by little his stripes as a ” classic ” – up to see revisited by Sofia Coppola in 2017 (review here), but his results at the box office does not take off. The status of Clint Eastwood weakens a little more…
Symbolically, A CHILL IN THE NIGHT emerges, therefore, between the public failure of the Prey and the triumph of Inspector Harry, both directed by Don Siegel , as found here in the casting in the small role of a bartender “delighted to be at his service“. Novice in the matter, he will redo his scene a dozen times before that Eastwood does not ask the chief operator to load the camera. A sense of Humour.
“After seventeen years of me banging our heads against the walls, to go for a walk on the plateaus, sometimes even influence some of the positions of the cameras with my own ideas, watching the actors go through terrible things without any help and work with good directors and bad, I have got to the point where I feel I’m ready to make my own films. I put aside all the mistakes that I have made and recorded all the good things that I have learned. Now I know enough to control my own projects and get what I want out of actors.” – Clint Eastwood (1969)
Coup de poker liar A CHILL IN THE NIGHT does not choose the easy way out. The player can see further than the tip of her image and plays Dave Garver, a Disc Jokey for a radio of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California who finds himself embringué in a sentimental story with Evelyn, one lucky fan a bit possessive and even downright névropathe, which is gradually transformed into a praying mantis elusive.
After The Prey, the movie questions a new time sexual obsessions ambiguous of a society in upheaval. As an echo, the Woman is once again deadly, but nothing touches ever the dreams that envelop the film from Siegel. Realistically, the future cinema ofEastwood is already there, freed from all constraints. In the air of the time. The one who had envisioned a career as a pianist before setting foot on the sets, mâtine its history of Jazz and plays the modest : it sits on a part of his salary, gets a limited budget (750.000$), completed the filming with several days ahead and realize substantial savings. Better, by taking as clear dramatic number of autobiographical elements (including a history of harassment that he himself lived younger), and an action located not far from his home in Carmel rather than in Los Angeles, Clint Eastwood, director advance in the field known and likes to film his daily environment. Basically, it is fun to big shots of carefree calculated and hedonism creative. A way to escape the tragedies of the recent past.
But it should not be wrong. If Clint Eastwood actor is at the top of the poster ofA CHILL IN THE NIGHT it is the character ofEvelyn the bar. Wore in the hollow of a woman’s cracked and full of dereliction, the film is carried by an impressive Jessica Walter discovered a few years earlier in Lilith (Robert Rossen, 1962) and Grand Prix (John Frankenheimer, 1963). Eastwood was playing on velvet. With consummate art for the ambivalence, it transforms in a blink of an eye his character of victim in the predatory skewed, oppressive, and delivers a performance that is eerily fascinating, which earned him to be nominated for the Golden Globes. This failover psychological slice with a mise en scene up there is very relaxing, almost contemplative, which even allows a nice escape almost documentary at the Monterey Festival with the performances of Johnny Otis (” Willie and the Handjive “), saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and pianist Joe Zawinul. Leaves to stretch the narrative thread. The cool spreads slowly, is sometimes the postcard syrupy during the scenes with Tobie (Donna Mills) before resuming the path twisted and tortuous thriller.
Bathed in sun and music, the original title “Play Misty for Me ” (much more poetic than his unlikely French translation extrapolated) is taken from a song shrouded in Erroll Garner that the character ofEvelyn likes to ask obsessively to the disc-jokey. Yet, in giving his film a raw realism, almost clinical, Clint Eastwood calls a anguish dishevelled that captures. A tad masochistic, his character undergoes literally the story, becomes the object of paranoia d’Evelyn, unable to get out of the spider’s web that he will have himself tense involuntarily. We do find almost never the trace of a role of powerless victim, except, in a measure, with The showdown (1978). Especially, A CHILL IN THE NIGHT allows him to develop a portrait of a woman in préfigurera many other equally exciting (Breezy, On the Route de Madison, Million Dollar Baby, The Exchange) and also based on one of the main themes of his future work : the loneliness in all its forms. This loneliness, which grows here to the madness devastating in a crescendo of controlled violence.
In makingEvelyn a pure extension of the solitude planted in the imbalance, the film prefigures a few archetypes of a genre which will be extensively photocopied by the following – Liaison Fatale (Adrian Lyne, 1987) at JF Seeks Apartment (Barbet Schroeder, 1992), by way of Misery (Rob Reiner, 1991). A kind of Psychosis inverted shadow of the inevitable master Alfred Hitchcock.Without that nobody could see it coming, which could spend for a new caprice star (how many players have tried the adventure of the achievement ?) will transform into a true profession of faith. Modesty the shoulder, it is with a real economy of means that the film advance. Clint Eastwood is not a director of the metaphor. On a large part of the film, its style like him : direct, unhurried, unfussy. Effective. We find the air plans (the opening scene) and a propensity for natural landscapes. Following an arc of a narrative that stretches suddenly is when Evelyn loses its bearings as the camera tilts, range, unstable, darker. The light then disappears for the benefit of the night. Black ink.
Certainly, the cinema has known of the first few films more ambitious and successful. But with A CHILL IN THE NIGHT, Clint Eastwood was before all the foundations of a style that is both classic and very personal. A method also. Rather well received by the critics, he will meet with a success with the public, more modest ($5 million revenue), but it’s enough to continue the adventure. And for once, his second film, The Man of the High Plains (1973), would allow him to radicalize his about and refine his style, which paid for her “debt” to Sergio Leone. For balance of any account. But this is another story…
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• Achievement : Clint Eastwood
• Screenplay : Jo Heims
• Main actors : Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walter, Donna Mills
• Release Date : 30 August 2017
• Duration : 1h42min