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The Films of George C. Scott

article and interview by Paul Riordan -- page 4 of 5
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The following year, Scott worked with Richard Fleischer again. He played veteran policeman Sergeant Klivinsky in the film adaptation of Joseph Wambaugh's The New Centurions.

George C. Scott with Stacy Keach
The New Centurions.

"That was another picture I did for Richard Fleischer. It started out with John Huston directing, and then Fleischer took over; I don't really want to get into why. I enjoyed working with Stacy Keach (who played Klivinsky's partner). We've been friends for years. That was one of the early (realistic) cop pictures." The actor gave an excellent performance in this uneven film, and was particularly effective in the scene where Klivinsky, now retired and despondent, commits suicide.

In 1972, Scott made his directorial debut with Rage. He also starred as rancher Dan Logan, the distraught, outraged father of a young man accidentally killed by chemical testing. "That was done for Warner Brothers," Scott recalled. "It was my directorial debut. I had wanted to direct for a while, so when they offered me the chance to direct this, I took it. It was based on a true case, by the way, about a man whose son had been poisoned by these chemicals."


In Oklahoma Crude (1973), Scott gave a great comic performance as drifter Noble "Mase" Mason. "That was directed by Stanley Kramer. I co-starred with Faye Dunaway. It was a very tough shoot: it rained for nineteen consecutive days." This was followed by director Mike Nichols' film version of Robert Merle's best-seller, Day of the Dolphin, scripted by Buck Henry. "That was a lovely movie," Scott reminisced. "I enjoyed the relationship with the men and the animals. That aspect, the relationship between the people and the dolphins, was what it should have been about, but they wanted to turn it into an adventure film, so they stuck in that business about blowing up the President's f-----g yacht. I don't think that was in the book. Working with those animals, though, was the experience of a lifetime."


Next up was an adaptation of Donald Westlake's Bank Shot (1974), a sort of sequel to The Hot Rock (1972), with Scott in the role of the character played by Robert Redford in the prior film. This time out, the gang of blundering robbers try to steal an entire bank building! The actor is not too fond of this one, however: "I don't know why the hell I got into that one. I guess I did it for Gower Champion, who directed it."

Scott turned to directing again, with The Savage is Loose (1974), which he also starred in, along with wife Trish Van Devere. They portrayed a couple stranded for years on an isolated island, along with their young son, who, as he reaches adolescence, begins developing some unhealthy feelings for his mother. Scripted by Frank De Felitta (Audrey Rose) and Max Ehrlich (The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, Z.P.G.), the film was a critical and financial failure. "I also produced the film, and I distributed it myself, too. I lost my ass on that picture; there were all kinds of lawsuits."


In 1975, Scott appeared with an all-star cast in The Hindenburg, yet another of those interminable disaster pictures in vogue at the time. "I did that picture for Robert Wise. He goes way back; yeah, he used to be a cutter or something. (Wise edited, among other films, 1941's Citizen Kane). He was a real gentleman." Scott did better work on TV that year, portraying attorney Louis Nizer in Fear on Trial, the story of the blacklisting and libel trial of 1950's broadcaster John Henry Faulk (played by William Devane).


The actor returned to theatrical films the following year, giving one of his best performances in Islands in the Stream, filmed from Hemingway's book by Scott's Patton director, Franklin J. Schaffner. "That was a nice film," Scott remembered, "I had a good time doing it. It was not a box office smash, though, but it was a lovely location to do a movie." (The film was shot in Hawaii, standing in for the Bahamas).

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© 1997 Paul Riordan. All rights reserved.


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