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James J  Cremin Written by James J Cremin
Oct. 30, 2008 | 11:41 AM

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Seeing The Changeling with Clint Eastwood

Last night, October 29, 2008, I was one of the lucky ones who got in to see this movie that quickly followed with a q and a with Scott Foundas with the director/producer/composer Clint Eastwood, who gave quite an astute answers and even joked with the audience before making his undisturbed exit.

The movie itself plays with colors that has been seen before in Eastwood’s pictures. The names of the crew are quite familiar to those who’ve seen other Eastwood’ movies. The first shot is actually in black and white and very much in the period in terms of building and cars when the first caption reads out: 1928.

Slowly but surely, from an aerial shot to ground level, the black and white changes into color. We are introduced to Christine Collins who brilliantly played by Angelina Jolie. Collins is a single mom who’s also a telephone operator supervisor required to use roller skates to fix little emergencies and handle supplies. Her first scene firmly establishes her as a loving mother.

After returning from work to take her son to the latest Chaplin movie, she finds her son is nowhere to be found. Captain J. J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) reassures her that the LAPD will find her son. A child is brought forth from Illinois and the press are present to record the mother child reunion. However, the first words out of Collin’s mouth is “He is not my son.” Pictures are taken anyway.

Later, she comes back to complain to Jones that the child is not hers, he actually gets angry as far that he’s concerned, the LAPD did its job. Just prior to this, she meets with Rev. Gustave Brieleb, (John Malkovich) who has his own radio broadcast program denouncing the very corrupt LAPD, whose tie-ins with organized crime he knows about.

Jones actually has her committed. She’s listed as a Code 12, one who has had trouble with the police and where electric shock therapy is used. Meanwhile, Detective Lester Ybarra (Michael Kelly) follows a tip and captures an illegal alien from Canada. This boy tells a shocking story of boys being hacked up to bits that he was forced to help and among the boy s identified is Michael Collins as among the dead.

Gordon Northcott (Jason Butler Hamer) gets thrown in jail for committing those hideous acts. In one powerful screen, he calls Christine to give her closure which he never does. There’s cross cutting between the police cover-up trail and Northcott’s trial and both get the right verdicts with thunderous applause, one dramatic taken out of Capra, who has been criticized for same and the movie ends with Collins winning a bet that “It Happened One Night” would win at the Academy Awards.

When Eastwood came out, he was chewing on some popcorn. This took place two years before he was born. He recalled his years growing up in the Pacific Palisades and remembers the Red Car, electric rail trolleys that were replaced by diesel buses, not so bright idea in retrospect.

The script by J. Michael Straczynski was presented to him by Paul Glazer’s company and he liked it very much. He offered the lead role to Jolie as both have expressed interest in working together. Clippings of transcripts were taped on the other side of the script pages really sold him.

He praised Anthony Mann, Howard Hawks and John Ford when pressed what was his favorite Western. He rarely uses playback because those old pros didn’t and even gave a passable impersonation of John Wayne while acknowledging other great actors who played cowboy parts.

He even talked about making the Piano Blues doc for Scorsese when prompted. All in all, he was quite respectful in his responses to his audience who accorded him the respect when he left. A true living legend.

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