Film Lives, a personal look at the past decade

On the Aisle

By Tony Macklin

It seems almost everybody is evaluating the recently passed last decade. So please indulge me, while I list my professional top 10.

1. Interview With Clint Eastwood

Some interviews I’ve had have been terrific experiences — Duke Wayne at his home; Alfred Hitchcock on the set of his final film, “The Family Plot”; Jason Robards Jr. in a bar in New York. The interview with Clint Eastwood joins them as a golden memory.

In 2004, I finally got to sit down with Clint Eastwood for an hour and 45 minutes. It was a long time coming. For decades I had pursued Clint. One time I called one of his aides and told him I had hit it off with John Wayne, and after the interview Wayne wrote me: “Tony, You caught me in print as no one else has.” The man responded, “Clint hates John Wayne.” Oops.

That was a long time ago, when they were different faces of the West.

Years later one of my former students, then an executive with Lakeshore Entertainment, set up the interview with Clint, who was promoting “Million Dollar Baby.” It took place at Warner Bros Studio in Burbank.

Clint surprised me. He was much gentler than I had expected. He was well read. He was authentic.

With a bonanza of socially-conscious movies in the last decade, such as “Million Dollar Baby,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Changeling,” “Gran Torino” and even “Invictus,” Clint Eastwood was the director of the decade.

In the 1970s, it would have been almost impossible to imagine Dirty Harry directing a humanistic, empathetic film that told a story of Iwo Jima from a Japanese point of view. But Clint did.

The director of the decade graced me with my personal interview of the decade.

2. Inclusion On Rottentomatoes And Internet Movie Database

For years I wanted my reviews, interviews and articles to have access for a bigger audience. My reviews had disappeared into the cinesphere. My bases were provincial — excuse me, Fayetteville. and gave readers access to my Web site. Because of that I recently received two wonderful reactions from abroad to my audio interview with the late sci-fi/movie writer Leigh Brackett. Now I’m big in Fayetteville and Scotland.

3. Web Site

Another gifted former student became my Webmaster and created a site for me: People seem to like it.

4. Three Years On Air With Al Bernstein

Once or twice a week (192 times) I appeared on the Al Bernstein Sports Party on ESPN radio. Al, the boxing guru on Showtime TV, had a radio show that was intelligent and varied, and I welcomed the opportunity. It was radio without yelling — a prehistoric concept. Ironically we went off the air, because Al was losing his voice.

5. Susan Porter, Editor, And FFW

I’ve been writing for Susan for four years. If she cuts my work, I don’t even know about it. That’s an editor.

6. Interview With Stella Stevens

As a teacher long ago, I kept a copy of the Playboy issue with the sublime Stella in the bottom drawer of my desk in my office. Along with Scott Fitzgerald, it was for inspiration. I got to interview Stella in my apartment for three hours. Like a genie in a bottom drawer, Stella appeared in all her glory, and spoke. Ah, blonde wisdom.

7. Interviews With Morgan Freeman And Hilary Swank

They also were promoting “Million Dollar Baby.” Clint, Morgan and Hilary all won Oscars for their work in the movie. Since I interviewed all three, I considered myself their lucky talisman.


A critic or educator, unlike a coach, has no record of wins and losses. His readers may be out there somewhere. The creators of the Fayetteville Web site had a feature, “Macklin Hates Everything,” in which they humorously commented on lines in my reviews. I loved them. They were my ideal readers. I miss you guys.

9. The Las Vegas Film Critics Society

We sit in the dark together.

10. Mentoring A Film Club

A young critic, who has become my friend, created a film club, and invited me to participate. I’m impressed at how well he has sustained it through the second half of the decade.

Film Lives.

Categories: Entertainment