- Walter Hill (filmmaker)
name = Walter Hill
birthdate = birth date and age|1942|1|10
Long Beach, California, U.S.
birthname = Walter Wesley Hill
Film director, producer and screenwriter
spouse = Hildy Gottlieb (1986-present)
yearsactive = 1968–Present
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Walter Wesley Hill (born
January 10, 1942in Long Beach, California) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer known, in particular, for his male-dominated action films and revival of the Western. He said in an interview, "Every film I've done has been a Western", and elaborated in another, "the Western is ultimately a stripped down moral universe that is, whatever the dramatic problems are, beyond the normal avenues of social control and social alleviation of the problem, and I like to do that even within contemporary things."cite news
last = Axmaker
first = Sean
title = Walter Hill: "Operate on your instincts"
publisher = GreenCine Daily
October 3, 2005
url = http://www.greencine.com/article?action=view&articleID=240
accessdate = 2007-12-12 ]
Growing up in southern California, Walter Hill was
asthmaticas a child and, as a result, missed several years of school.cite news
last = McGilligan
first = Patrick
title = Walter Hill: Last Man Standing
publisher = Film International
date = June 2004
url = http://www.filmint.nu/?q=node/23
accessdate = 2007-11-28 ] He spent much of his time daydreaming, reading
comic books, and listening to radio serials. Hill said his father and grandfather were "smart, physical men who worked with their heads and their hands" and had "great mechanical ability." His paternal grandfather was a wildcat oil driller. Hill worked in the oil fields as a roustabouton Signal Hill near Los Angelesduring summers of the latter part of his high school years and several more years while in college. During one summer, he ran an asbestospipe-cutting machine and worked as a spray painter in the John Bean factory in Lansing, Michigan. He later majored in history at Michigan State University.
Hill began his career in the training program of the
Directors Guild of America, graduating to work as second assistant director on "The Thomas Crown Affair" in 1968.cite news
last = White
first = Rusty
title = Walter Hill: Not Just a Peckinpah Wannabe
publisher = Entertainment Insiders
January 31, 2002
url = http://www.einsiders.com/features/columns/walterhill2.php
accessdate = 2007-11-28 ] He went on to work as the uncredited second assistant director on "
Bullitt" in the same year. In 1969, he was the second assistant director on a Woody Allenfilm, " Take the Money and Run", but said he remembers doing very little except passing out the call sheets and filling out time cards.
Hill's first screenplay, a Western called "Lloyd Williams and His Brother", was optioned in 1969 by Joe Wizan, but it was never made. At one point,
Sam Peckinpahexpressed interest in filming it after "The Getaway" (1972) which became the first of Hill's screenplays to be produced as a film. Peckinpah ended up doing " Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" instead. Peter Bogdanovich's ex-wife Polly Platt, a film editor, had read Hill's script for " Hickey & Boggs" and recommended him to co-write "The Getaway" with Bogdanovich. They worked on the script together in San Francisco while Bogdanovich was directing "What's Up, Doc?" They had completed 25 pages when they went back to L.A., whereupon Steve McQueenfired Bogdanovich without reading any of their work. Hill started from scratch and wrote his own script in six weeks.
Hill went on to write a pair of
Paul Newmanfilms, " The Mackintosh Man" and "The Drowning Pool". By Hill's own admission, his work on "The Mackintosh Man" "wasn't much" and he did it for the money. In addition, he and director John Hustondisagreed on how closely to stick to the book on which it was based. Producers Larry Turman and David Foster asked Hill to adapt Ross MacDonald's novel " The Drowning Pool" for Richard Mulliganto direct as a sequel to a previous Newman film, " Harper". The producers did not like the direction Hill took with his script, so he left the project to write "Hard Times" for Larry Gordon at Columbia Pictures.
Hill read Alex Jacob's screenplay for the
Lee Marvinfilm, "Point Blank" and considered it a "revelation" in terms of style and format. He decided to tailor his own scripts in that manner, as he described it, "extremely spare, almost Haikustyle. Both stage directions and dialogue." Hill wrote "Hard Times", the first draft of "Alien", " The Driver", and "The Warriors" in this style.
Hill met producer Lawrence Gordon in 1973. He agreed to let Hill direct a film if he wrote a screenplay for him. Hill made a deal to write and direct for scale and in turn got a shot at directing. The result was Hill's 1975 breakthrough film, "Hard Times", made on location in
New Orleansfor just $2.7 million in 38 days.cite news
last = Stanley
first = John
title = Walter Hill's Dark visions
San Francisco Chronicle
May 27, 2007
url = http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/27/PKGBDPSPQ61.DTL&type=movies
accessdate = 2007-12-12 ]
James Coburnplayed a fast-talking promoter of illegal street fights in 1930s New Orleans and Charles Bronsonplayed the boxer protagonist.
Hill's second film as a director was "The Driver" starring
Ryan O'Nealas a laconic getaway driver for hire and Bruce Dernas a driven cop pursuing him. No character in the film has a name; they are merely The Driver, The Detective, and so forth. Hill originally had wanted to cast McQueen, but he turned down the role because he did not want to do another car movie.
In 1979, Hill directed "
The Warriors" - a story of violent street gangs which arguably became his most popular film due to an immense cult following that has grown each passing year. It spawned a spin-off television show that aired in the mid 1980s on ABC called "The Renegades", as well as a video game, action figures and talk of a Tony Scottremake.
In 1980, Hill directed his first official Western, "
The Long Riders", which cast real-life acting brothers (the Keaches, Carradines, Quaids and Guests) as historical outlaw siblings (the James, Younger, Miller and Ford brothers).
A year later, Hill took a Western approach to "
Southern Comfort", an intense " Deliverance"-style thriller about a group of U.S. Army National Guardsmen (including Keith Carradine, Powers Bootheand Fred Ward) on weekend maneuvers in the Louisiana bayou who find themselves fighting for survival in the swamps after offending some local Cajuns. The film was seen by many as an allegory for America's involvement in Vietnam.
In 1982, Hill enjoyed a major box office success by teaming a young
Eddie Murphywith Nick Noltefor the film "48 Hours". It was Murphy's first film. Clint Eastwoodwas originally lined up to play the cop and Richard Pryorthe convict, but Eastwood wanted to play the criminal instead and dropped out of the project with Pryor following suit soon afterward.
Hill was the co-producer and one of the originators of the blockbuster "Alien" series of films. He co-wrote the story for "Aliens", the second film in the series.
In 1984, he directed a stylish "rock 'n' roll fable", "
Streets of Fire". While initially a box-office failure, it gained a greater following in subsequent years (as many of Hill's films have). He directed Pryor along with John Candyin the much more mainstream 1985 comedy "Brewster's Millions", following this with "Crossroads", an atmospheric, non-violent Hill film about two blues guitarists ( Ralph Macchioand Joe Seneca) on a road trip.
In 1987, he returned to hard-edged action with "Extreme Prejudice", a contemporary Western based on a story by
John Miliusand Fred Rexer, which starred Nolte, Boothe, Michael Ironsideand Clancy Brown. A tale of childhood friends who are on both sides of the law, it includes a showdown that lovingly pays homage to Peckinpah's " The Wild Bunch".
Hill returned to the buddy-cop genre with "
Red Heat" (1988), a sort of Glasnost-era reworking of " 48 Hrs." with Arnold Schwarzeneggeras a stoic Soviet cop who travels to Chicago to catch a Russian drug-dealer ( Ed O'Ross). Schwarzenegger is partnered with a wisecracking American cop ( Jim Belushi), who is as laid-back and mouthy as his Soviet counterpart is taciturn and humorless.
Hill ended the '80s with "
Johnny Handsome" (1989). An unusual crime story starring Mickey Rourke, Morgan Freemanand Lance Henriksen, it was a cynical, downbeat tale that the director saw as a re-examination of the film noir genre.
Hill began the '90s with the only sequel he's directed to date, "
Another 48 Hours", with Murphy this time top-billed over Nolte. However, the sequel to his biggest commercial success was thought by many critics to be merely a retread of the original and was considered a disappointment at the box office.
In 1992, Hill directed a film originally called "Looters" about two firemen who cross paths with criminals while searching for stolen loot in an abandoned East St. Louis tenement building. However, the L.A. Riots broke out shortly before the film's release and the studio delayed its opening, eventually changing the title to "Trespass".cite news
title = Movie Looters release postponed till after summer
May 6, 1992
accessdate = ]
Hill began to focus his energies on Western-themed tales. His film biography of
Geronimo, entitled, "", with a screenplay written by John Milius, was well received by the critics, but fared poorly at the box office. A second biopic - this time of the titular " Wild Bill" - had little critical or commercial success, although Hill would return to the same themes and same characters, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, the next decade with the TV series "Deadwood".
His 1996 effort "Last Man Standing" with
Bruce Willis, a Prohibition-era Western update of " Yojimbo" (and thus reminiscent of that film's inspiration, Dashiell Hammett's " Red Harvest", and its western incarnation, " A Fistful of Dollars") saw him return to his earlier style to some extent: a gruff antihero and a heavy focus on stylized action.
Hill then directed the 2000 film "Supernova". When the studio did not agree with his vision, they brought in
Francis Ford Coppolato re-cut the film. This caused Hill to credit himself with the pseudonym"Thomas Lee" (a variation of Alan Smithee), and chose not to be associated with the finished product. Hill called his original version a much darker take than the final product. In 2002, Hill directed the prison boxing film " Undisputed" starring Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhamesand Peter Falk. cite news
last = Fischer
first = Paul
title = Not Over the Hill as Veteran Director Walter Delivers Knockout Punch
publisher = Film Monthly
August 22, 2002
url = http://www.filmmonthly.com/Profiles/Articles/WHill/WHill.html
accessdate = 2007-12-12 ]
The 1990s also saw him retain a producer credit for "
Alien³" and "".
Recently, Hill's directional work for the pilot episode of the TV series "Deadwood" has seen him return to favour in critical circles to some extent, earning him an
Emmyin 2004 and a DGA award in 2005. He continued his work with westerns by directing the mini series " Broken Trail", which became the highest-rated movie made by a cable network when it premiered on AMC. It also earned him yet another Emmy when it was awarded for Best Mini-Series.
Hill married Hildy Gottlieb, a talent agent at
International Creative Management, in New York Cityat Tavern on the Greenon September 7, 1986cite news
title = Hildy Gottlieb Is the Bride Of Walter Hill, a Director
New York Times
September 8, 1986
accessdate = ]
* [http://www.filmstew.com/ShowArticle.aspx?ContentID=12579 FilmStew.com]
* [http://suicidegirls.com/interviews/Walter+Hill/ Suicide Girls]
* [http://industrycentral.net/director_interviews/WH01.HTM "MovieMaker"]
*imdb name|id=0001353|name=Walter Hill
*amg name|id=2:94395|name=Walter Hill
* [http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/316/316445p1.html IGN profile]
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