Hal (2018) - full transcript

Between 1970 and 1979, the films of Hal Ashby collected seven Academy Awards and 24 Academy Award nominations. He was a major player in the so called "New Hollywood" era of the '70s, and his strident rebelliousness in the face of the Hollywood studio system set the course for an utterly original body of work. But as that era came to a close, Ashby's star faded. The '80s were to usher in a corporate era of filmmaking, and Ashby's story became a cautionary tale. ONCE I WAS: The Hal Ashby Story is a feature length documentary film that will examine the life and work of director Hal Ashby within the changing landscape of American Cinema.

[reels whirring]

[man] ♪ Miles from nowhere ♪

[man on film] I think it's amazing
how lucky we are to be in our profession-

to have the movies...


to remember people with.

♪ Look up at the mountain ♪

[Beatty] When you see
these pieces of Hal's pictures,

you see his modesty,

his, uh, honesty, his humor,

his, uh, irreverence,

his impatience with hypocrisy,

his love of people.

These are qualities that are all reflected

both in the subjects
that he chose to deal with

and in the way that he dealt with them.

♪ And miles from nowhere ♪

♪ I guess I'll take my time ♪

There was almost like
a spiritual something about him.

[man] Hal created
such an inclusive environment.

It almost felt like, you know,
you were all impulses in the same brain.

That's kind of how he made you feel.

He wasn't at all
the kind of person that I expected.

Not quite Hollywood.

He had his long, gray hair
and this wonderful long, gray beard,

and this eternal smile on his face.

If you think about any
of Hal Ashby's films,

you're gonna find discussion of class,

you're gonna find discussion of race.

He wanted people, clearly, to love one another
when society has tried to keep them apart.

Hal Ashby is a warning story.
I mean, that scared me.

He had problems with authority.

He went off the deep end,

he became so committed
to freedom of expression.

[man] I think the films of Hal Ashby
have had an enormous effect

on most of the great filmmakers
that we admire.

To me, he's totally in the pantheon.

Ten or eleven features, seven in the '70s

that are just an astonishing
string of masterpieces.

We all looked to those movies
as the best movies ever made.

♪ I love everything ♪

♪ So don't it make you feel sad? ♪

♪ Cause I'll drink to you, my baby ♪

♪ I'll think to that ♪

♪ I'll think to that ♪

♪ Think to that ♪

♪ Oh ♪

♪ Miles from nowhere ♪

♪ Guess I'll take my time ♪

♪ Oh, yeah ♪

♪ To reach there ♪

[waves cresting]

You can see in the letters
we wrote to each other,

there was a real love

and a real bond between us.

[bell dings]

Dearest dear heart Norman-

Dearest most beautiful Norman.

Dearest Norman-

I can't tell you how good it was
to receive your letter.

We would say things about the film

or about politics or about
what was going on in our lives.

[Foster] This will most certainly
not be a memo of any sort.

It will be closer to the ramblings

of a very, very angry young punk.

Norman, since I talked with you
this afternoon,

I have become so goddamn
furiously frustrated from anger.

I don't know what to do except
sit here at this typewriter

and rant and rave and hope
I can cope with everything

without losing my cool completely.

If there's anyone you want me
to kick in the shins or bite,

please, please let me know.

Eighteen loads
of super double dynamite love,


I don't think I've ever loved another man

as much as I did Hal.

[reels whirring]

Hitchhiked to Los Angeles when I was 17.

Started smoking grass when I was 18.

Had about 50 or 60 jobs since I was ten.

Up to the time,
I was working as a multilith operator

at good old Republic Studios.

I got my first job through
the state employment department.

You know, like a jerk, I went down there

and I told them I wanted to get into
the motion picture business.

And that woman looked at me
like, “What the hell is that?”

And said, “Well, here's something at Universal
with a multilith machine.”

So, that was my first thing
as far as getting into a studio.

One day, while running off
90 or so copies

of some now-forgotten page 14,

I flashed on the idea
of becoming a film director.

“The best school for a director
is in the cutting room”

was the reply I heard most often.

[Jewison] It was at MGM.

He was working as an assistant editor
on The Loved One.


I was walking by the editing room door,

and he was looking at a little piece of film.

I started to laugh, and Hal turned.

And I said, “Hi. I'm Norman Jewison.

I'm just, uh-I'm just on the lot

because I'm preparing a film.”

He said, “Come on in. Come on in.”

I realized that we'd both kind of
had the same sixth sense. [laughing]

Immediately, I shared something with him.

And then he told me that Bob Swink

was William Wyler's editor

and that he worked on Willie Wyler's films
with Bob Swink.

I just thought, “Oh, my God.
Hal, you know William Wyler?

You- You've sat in a room
with William Wyler

and edited his films?”

[tape rewinding]

[Ashby speaking on tape]

I said, “Do you think you're ready
to start cutting on your own?”

And I tried to seduce Hal,

because I believed he was ready.

And so we started.

Was Mr. Colbert ever in this greenhouse,

say, last night about midnight?

- Gillespie?
- Yeah.

You saw it.

Oh, I saw it.

Well, what are you gonna do about it?

I don't know.

[Jewison] We both had very strong feelings
about racism in America.

I felt that this could be
an important film at this time,

because timing is everything.

Norman was sensitive and smart enough

to know that bouncing ideas back and forth

with Hal Ashby

would be able to reach people.

He trusted Hal to create this Rembrandt.

I can imagine him in the editing room
being woken up

by Sidney Poitier.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

He believed in love,


He believed in all of the things

that I held dear to my heart.

And so, I just loved him.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

[man] One night we were working-
Thomas Crown Affair.

Then he said, “Oops! I forgot.”

I said, “What?”

“I'm supposed to be at the Academy.

I've been nominated.”

I said, “You have? Let's get out of here.”

[car tires screeching]

So we jump in the Jaguar
and drive up there.

When we got there,
of course we got there late.

Hal sat down. Must be a minute or so.

He was talking
to somebody back there.

They call his name.

I said, “Hal.” He said, “What?”
“They're calling your name.”

The winner is Hal Ashby

for In the Heat of the Night.

[orchestra playing]

Thank you very much.
Thank you.

Uh, to repeat the words
of a very dear friend of mine last year

when he picked up his Oscar,

I only hope that we can use
all of our talents and creativity

towards peace and love.

- Thank you.
-[audience applauding]

Who wouldn't get excited or nervous

about saying that kind of thing?

There was “Thank you, my agent,
thanks to my producer” and so forth.

But those words, “peace and love-"

Love meant the hippies, the other.

And of course, peace means antiwar.

[Jewison] By that time,
we had made a number of films together,

and so we moved into a bungalow.

Frank Sinatra's bungalow
on the Goldwyn lot.

And we put a bed in there for Hal.

I put flower boxes out,
and I fixed it all up,

like a little house

because I found that when he really
got into problems in editing

or whatever,

he'd smoke some pot
and he would work all night.

He'd have thousands of pieces of film

with clothes pegs on blinds,

and he knew where every frame was.

I mean, he had an incredible mind.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

He'd work 24 hours straight.

I mean, he'd work- seemed like days on end.

I'd leave the studio and come back,
and he'd still be there working away.

He was obsessed.

Hal Ashby was obsessed with film.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

We kind of said, “This is our place.”

And we tried to keep everybody
from the Mirisch Corporation out,

and we tried to keep everybody
from United Artists out.

I told him from the very beginning,

“The studio is not your friend.

The studio is the enemy of the artist,

because the studio
is only interested in money.

We are interested in art.

We are interested in film.

We are the artists,
and we must defend ourselves,

and we must always stick together.”

And so Hal believed that.

Ernest. Law and order.

White, police,

soldiers, gun, mace.

Obeying the white establishment.

- James.
- I am black, and I am beautiful.

- Malcolm.
- I am black, and I am beautiful.


I am black, and I am beautiful.

[Jewison] It was a film that was
going to be shot in New York.

I was gonna direct it.

And it was at that point where I realized

that Hal really kind of wanted to direct.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

I made him associate producer.

I'd involved him in the casting.
I'd involved him in all aspects of the films.

I felt he was ready.

When we did The Landlord in Brooklyn,

we chose the hotbed.

Hal chose that place to do that movie.

The riots had just taken place.

Let's go to the belly of the beast

and do this film
where it's supposed to be taken.

- Maybe we can do some good.
-[man] Get out the car. Uh-oh!


We gon' have to watch out for this.
What is this we have here?

[man] You got to realize that at this time,
the major cities in America were burning.

They were on fire.
Detroit, Los Angeles.

And we were in the mouth of the dragon.


And I run down the street,

and all these guys chase me
for about three or four blocks.

They had a long lens on the camera.

[Gossett Jr.]
He ran, and I ran after him.

It was about a 90-degree day.

It was hot. Everybody was out.

Children were throwing water balloons.

Mothers were pulling the children away.

“Aaah! Get him! Get him! Get the boy!”

“Get that white motherfucker!

Take him down! Take him down!”

And somewhere, when I was running,
I said, “Oh, this stuff is real.

I hope these are extras.”

They were not extras.

Malcolm X was at his top.

We had some angry black people.
Very angry.

Now I have to walk back.

And I'm thinking,
I'm gonna take a bullet. This is it.

And I start to walk,
and I feel this big arm come around me.

I put my arm around his shoulder.

And probably saved his life or his head.

I said, “Oh, this is just a movie.
He's my friend.”

Then we walked all the way back
to the main camp that day.

The film is about racial identity
and how we see each other.

Which is so important today.

I think now things are coming to a head
on every subject.

And how many years ago was this?
It's amazing.

It was, at the time, courageous.

That's how we were.
That's how Hal Ashby was.

That's how Norman Jewison was,
and all those particular people.

That far ahead of the time.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

Elgar, didn't we all go together to see
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

- Yeah.
- It's just, Elgar, you have to realize

all Negroes are not like that.

Hal gave me the script to read,

and I said, “I can do this
because this woman is my family.

And her whole narrow
point-of-view and focus

is something I've lived with all my life,

and I know how to do it.”

[Bridges] I've always felt that probably
the biggest challenge for us as human beings

is to get past the ignorance of racism.

I think that's right at the heart
of a lot of our problems.

And just jumped at the chance
to play a character

that would really be able to take that on.

[woman singing: R & B]

-[door closes]
-You're early.


The scene when Marki Bey comes home,

and she's frustrated,
she lashes out at Beau Bridges.

What are you gonna do?

I don't know what
I'm gonna do, Elgar!

I just don't know,
so leave me alone!

He doesn't take it personally at all.

He just knows something's wrong.
He says, “What's wrong?”

And the way he does it- Beau Bridges-
it's so beautiful.

You gonna tell me what's wrong?

[Payne] And then she turns
and looks at him.

I think that shot is the heart of the film

and, in a way, the heart of some of-

if I can be pretentious enough,
some of Ashby's early work.

Which is a look that says,
“You see me. You see me.

You love me, and I can love you.”

And it really- it captures the exact moment
when someone falls in love

with someone else.

[Mulvehill] I dealt with Hal all during
the postproduction of The Landlord.

I walk into his editing room
and get a contact high.

I think my role was to try to keep it
as smooth as possible,

to try to assuage the frustrations

that other people- executives- had

in dealing with him.

It was usually a frustration
with the distribution,

the way that that was being handled.

He hated prints of the two doorbells.

It made him nuts.

He'd get on the phone with New York

and just rant and rave
about the ad campaign.

But by then, the film's out of your hands.

[Bridges] The film was not
a great commercial success.

I don't know how people were ready
to deal with a lot of that stuff.

Terrifying racial images that were so sick
and perverse that they were funny.

I mean, you know, that's what he intended.

A lot of his wit, I think, came from pain,

the way I think maybe humor
does come from facing adversity

and stuff like that.

[Foster] I was born in Ogden, Utah.

Never a Mormon.

I hated school.

[man] He was the baby of the family.

He was the apple
of his mother's eye.

I think that his parents' relationship
was not in the greatest of shape

and it was hoped that he would
solidify their relationship,

and ultimately that proved
not to be the case.

[Foster] Mom and Dad divorced
when I was six.

[Dawson] You know, he would
see his father every week.

He was in his life,
but not in a very big way.

[Foster] Dad killed himself
when I was 12.

[Dawson] The local newspaper
report from the time,

it talks about the bullet entered his body
under his- under his chin.

And, uh, it's a horrendous thing
to happen to your father

at any point in your life,
but particularly at that point.

He struggled through his teenage years,

trying to find meaning
in what had happened,

and he was searching for his identity,

and rebelling was as good a way as any
to assert his individuality.

[Foster] I struggled towards growing up,
like most others,

totally confused.

Joined the dropouts
in my senior year of high school

and didn't really get along with my family.

[woman] Did you enjoy life
when you were a child?

Oh, yes, you were
a wonderful baby, Harold.

Do you think the sexual revolution
has gone too far?

It certainly has.

Do you find the idea
of wife-swapping distasteful?

I even find the question distasteful.

- Do you-

[chair clattering]

Harold, please!

[man] I think it's ultimately
a very uplifting, happy movie.

I mean, just because there's
a bunch of suicide jokes in it

doesn't mean it's not
a positive, sunny film.

It is in our house.

I suppose you think
that's very funny, Harold.

[laughs quietly]

Early on, Hal was very, very picky
about the projects that he chose.

I mean, he went through tons of scripts
before he found Harold and Maude.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

He gave it to me, said,
“Read it. What do you think?”

I said, “Oh, I don't know.
It's, like, weird.”

[dramatic piano playing]

[Jewison] I think it was the humor

that always saved Hal and myself

from getting melodramatic.

There was always something kind of weird.

[laughs] Or strange.

I can't stand much more of this.

[crying] I can't take any more!

Oh, God!


[Ashby speaking on tape]

I think there was a soul connection there
and a real understanding of each other.

And Bud Cort is a very particular creature.

Like, in an encyclopedia of creatures,
you know, he has his own page.

And Hal Ashby made him feel safe,

Hal Ashby dialed into his frequency.

My father was dying when I met Hal.

I was an emotional minefield.

But I wanted the part.

And he took a chance on me.

And in so doing, became not only a director,

but, uh, a father,

-a mother, a driving instructor-
-[scattered laughter]

And a psychiatric nurse.


Hal, here's a moth for you.

It's dead, but it's pretty.

You are a genius.

Your humble servant,
Harold Parker Chasen the First.

[woman] Some guy in Cambridge, Mass.
wrote a letter,

and he said, “I'm at a loss to know
why this means so much to me.”

And I think about it a lot,
and I've finally come to the conclusion

that it's because, to get through life,

you have to have somebody to tell it to.

I like you, Maude.

Mmm. I like you, Harold.

[classical music plays]

Ruth Gordon, she was one
of those real kind of old-style,

uh, Hollywood actresses

that, you know, we don't have anymore.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

♪ And if you wanna be me
Be me ♪

♪ If you wanna be you
Be you ♪

♪ Cause there's a million things to do ♪

♪ You know that there are ♪

Harold, join in.

[man] One time, I had to kind of
run it over with Ruth.

She wasn't getting it right, you know,

and I was a little bit upset

'cause she wasn't quite doing
the little turns that I do.

Um, but of course, that was- that was her.

And, um, it ends up in the film
a great moment.

She does it all her own way.

But she was one of those who-
she did it her way.

[Islam] ♪ And if you want to be free
Be free ♪

♪ Cause there's a million things to be ♪

♪ You know that there are ♪

[Ashby speaking on tape]

I always intended
to do those songs properly,

but Hal stuck them in the film

because he probably had a deadline
to get the film out.

And I was a little bit horrified
when I heard-

I said, “No, no.
I haven't quite done them yet.”

But they were still demos to me.

But the strange thing is everybody loves
those songs because they're so raw

and so natural, sort of, kind of free

and no self-consciousness about them.

And that's what made the songs
kind of perfect for the film.

His type of style of allowing
the artists to do their part

and not worry about him too much,
so they could be free.

And that's why I think
he kind of became so important.

Because he was that independent
kind of mind

which didn't fit in quite.

I like to watch things grow.

[man] Teenagers who
were older than me,

they said, “Oh, my God.
You haven't seen Harold and Maude?

Oh, David, you have to see
Harold and Maude.”

And they said it from, like,
the bowels of their souls.

They grow and bloom

and fade and die

and change into something else.

Ah, life.

And it was beautiful and warm, yet it was
as existential as you could possibly be.

[laughing] There's a guy
who wanted to die every day.

-[woman laughing]
- Must have been very funny.

[gasping] Harold!

We had high hopes. We thought it was
the greatest thing ever done.

-[bell dings]
-[Foster] Having returned from New York

and having viewed rushes.

Must tell you I am elated by film.

Hal got Pablo involved and said,
“Pablo's gonna do the trailer.”

And... so- [laughing]

There was one shot in that where Bud

gives Ruth a passionate kiss,

and they fall down to the bed.

I said, “Oh, that's great!”

Went to show it to Bob Evans,
the head of the studio.

They had a hemorrhage.

He was so mad.

- What?
-[siren wailing]

They were so pissed off.

He said,
“How can you do this?”

I said, “What do you mean?
Didn't you read the script? It's a love story.”

♪ So shine, shine, shine ♪

♪ Shine, shine, shine
Shine, shine ♪

Hal and I were kind of surprised
that they were that angry about it.

I mean, they were angry about it.

And, uh, it's not the movie they were releasing,
as far as they were concerned.

I mean- And therein lies the problem, I think.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

I love that the poster to Harold and Maude
was just the words, “Harold and Maude.”

They didn't even know
how to put a picture on it. [laughing]

They're, like, “Can we show
Harold and not Maude?

What can we do here?”
You can imagine the marketing panic.

[Foster] Dear Bob, Another sleepless night

and another try at some form of letter.

From the beginning, I put my faith and trust
in you and Paramount,

and one thing I have stressed
is my absolute fanaticism in regards to honesty,

to which you all agreed.

Though I doubt that Paramount much cares,

my energies and most certainly
whatever creative talents or abilities I do have

are at the point where I fear
they may disappear in total.

When he finally had to give up the film,

I mean, he'd really go into
major depressions.

We were driving back to the house,

and he just broke down and started crying.

It's a release from the frustrations
of the shoot.

I think also that he was gonna lose control

of that particular process.

Much peace and love, Hal Ashby.

PS: I feel like I could make this film

about as funny as the Vietnam War.

[boat horn blowing in distance]

-[man] Can you hear me now, Jack?
-[on phone] Yeah.

Good. I thought we'd start off
just by giving us some idea

of the nature of the film
that you're doing up there.

What's it all about?

[Nicholson on phone]
Uh, it's a film about, um,

I guess you'd say military justice,
or injustice, really.

It's a story of two guys
who are taking

a young kid to, uh-

They're delivering him
to Portsmouth Naval Prison.

[Mintz] Uh, for what?
What did the kid do?

He, uh, stole some money.
Forty dollars.

Gets eight years.

Hmm. Are you- Do you-

That's just what I said.

MAA sent me.
He wants to see you right away.

Tell MAA to go fuck himself.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

The law says I have to serve him
and says I can't-

I'll tell you what you better do,
Mr. Citizen Bartender.

You take your beers
and ram 'em up your ass sideways.

- You dig it?
- Whoa there, sunshine.

We're going, so you can take your hand

off that horse cock
you got stashed under the bar.

The original problem
with getting the movie made

was the studio.

They wanted me to change the language in it,
and I didn't want to.

“Well, wouldn't ten 'motherfuckers'
be more dramatic

than 20?"

How do you know I don't have something
with a little more buck to it?

Ho-ho-ho. This redneck
is talking about firearms.

Well, I know that you ain't got nothin' but wood
under there, my man,

because I happened to be in here one night

when a certain sailor
got it laid up the side of his fucking head.

What do you think about that, redneck?

[Mulvehill] We, uh- We tried
to get military cooperation.

The Department of Defense came back
and said that they weren't gonna help.

They weren't gonna cooperate because, uh,

you know, today's sailor doesn't swear.

You try it, and I'll call the shore patrol.

I am the motherfucking shore patrol,

I am the motherfucking shore patrol!

Now give this man a beer.

We did what we wanted to do, really.
We just said, “Fuck it,” you know?

And of course, Hal was all for it.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

[Towne] What we were doing was just
showing an inherently unjust situation

and how people responded to it.

And it wasn't so much the military.

It was all of us.

My first interaction with Hal Ashby

was he got a job that I wanted,

The Russians are Coming!
The Russians are Coming!

I'd just done Mad World,

so I thought I deserved
Russians are Coming!

But he got it, so right away
I didn't like him very much.

[Mulvehill] The original editor left,
and Bob got on board.

They finished shooting and came back.

The producer called
and asked if I'd reconsider.

I said, “No, Hal is crazy.
He works 24 hours a day.

And he works at his house.
I don't want any of that.”

The producer said,
“Please come and look at some of the film.”

I looked at the film, I loved it, and I did it.

And I started off a great relationship.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

[Jones] The studio was scared to death
of the language in the film.

The head of the editorial department
at Columbia called and he said,

“Bob, I'm sending up a truck.

Would you have your assistants
pack up the film, and we're taking it over.”

I said, “You're doing what?”

“We're taking over the film.
It's a corporate decision.”

And they said, “Sorry, you got to do it.”
I said no.

So, 20 minutes later I got a call
from somebody else at Columbia.

He said, “Bob, we're sending up a truck.

Have your assistants pack up the film.

We're taking it over.
It's a corporate decision.

It's not your decision.
It's not my decision. Get to work.”

I said no. Hang up.

'Bout a half an hour later,
the head of Columbia calls me.

“Bob, it's a corporate decision.

It's not your decision. It's not my decision.
Pack up the film.”

I said, “John, after I hang up on you,

I'm sending all my assistants home

and I'm calling the police,
and I'm gonna sit by the window.”

Bang. And in the meantime,
I called Hal's attorney.

So we saved the film.

Goddamn grunts.

- Think they can get away with anything.
- Yeah.

Tellin' me how to do my job.
I know my job.

I know my goddamn job better
than anybody else in the goddamn navy.

His inability to really play ball-

People would put that down to,
“This guy's out of control. He's a drug addict.”

It was Hal who introduced me to pot.

All of a sudden I saw that,
“Oh, man, this is good.

I feel better and, uh, the world
doesn't look as bad as it did before.”

I think we were just so rebellious.

He wasn't dealing with addiction.

He was struggling with-
with issues regarding authority.

You understand his brilliance
and the greatness of the man

and his dedication professionally.

Uh, those things were always intact.

So you tend to take his side,
and I would tend to take his side.

Most beautiful and super Julie,

You are beyond a doubt
the most super, far out,

groovy lady I have ever met.

[Towne] I don't know how he managed,
but he had this wonderful habit

of trading in girlfriends.

I don't know, I used to tease him about it

because about every two years,
as it happened,

he- and it would be a new,
very nice, lovely girl.

[Mulvehill] Whatever woman
was in Hal's life at the time, I knew.

Hal usually involved them in the film
on one level or another.

For instance, Joanie,
she was his assistant

and handled the phone for him
and read scripts.

He married Joan on the set.

[Ashby speaking on tape]


I thought, Jesus, where's he gone?

He's been smoking too much.

[Mulvehill] Dianne did a lot of the clearances
and the film gathering.

Hal was known not to be a big sleeper.

And so whenever we had any contact,
or how I observed him,

was an artist working.

What attracted me to Hal
was his smile, his laugh,

his straightforwardness.

He never slept more
than two hours... ever.

He'd get up, go to the next room,

and do some of his work or write

or we'd take naps,
make love for two hours.

There was no greater place to be

than to the left of Hal in that bed.

[Dawson] He was a great enthusiast,
and he was a great romantic.

And he loved women,
and women loved him.

He was passionate about his work

and definitely didn't want to
compromise that in any way.

The thing is that Hal really is married
to the job, to his work.

[Foster] My life with Joan
is all fucked again,

and I'm sad and once again living-

[chuckles] in the office.

I don't think any relationship

or any- [laughs] wife

or any family or anything

meant as much to Hal as his work.

Hal didn't talk a lot about his past.

In fact, we- we didn't really do history.

Obviously, there were others,
weren't there?



I didn't actually know that he was,
uh, married so many times

until he was gone,
and every day a wife was calling.

And I finally called Larry,
the executor, and I said,

“Exactly how many are there?”

- How many?
- What do you want to know for?

- Because I want to know, that's all.
- What difference does it make?

He was married five times,
and then he decided he was done.

You really want to know?



There were a couple of-

I mean, there were- Uh- Jesus.

I-I-I- There- This-


Let's face it. I fucked 'em all.

This was Warren Beatty's film,

and Hal was the director
of Warren's film.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

He wanted to do a story
about a compulsive Don Juan.

I had been going with a girl
who had been married,

and I said, “Who were you married to?”

“A guy called Gene Shacove.
He's a hairdresser.

Not only that, he's still doing my hair.”

I met Shacove, and there was this guy,

uh, surrounded by
the most beautiful women in town.

I thought, this fucking guy
really has it made.

Warren wrote Shampoo
with Robert Towne,

and they would often times be on the set,

and they would have
these big arguments.

“Cut. Uh, print. Oh, just a minute.

Let me talk to Bob.

Bob? What's that, Bob?
Oh, really. Oh.

Okay, well, why don't you
say this instead?”

[Deschanel] Finally, at the end, they sort of
turned around and, “Hal, what do you think?”

Hal would just go, “Oh, well, I think
you should just go out the door

and come back in and say the lines.”

And Warren would say-
And Hal was always right.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

George, for Christ's sakes,
don't let me drink too much.

You don't do that anymore, do you?

[Russell] I think that when you're coming up,
really, out of the Eisenhower years,

all the way up through the Hal Ashby era,

there's a feeling of what's hovering around you

is a kind of hypocrisy.

For the people, for the country,

for our Constitution.

[Russell] And you can feel
the Nixon election happening.

You can feel people's narcissism
missing the whole point of what's happening.

A teenager held up a sign.

'Bring us together.”

And that will be the great objective
of this administration

at the outset-

to bring the American people together.

- Hmm.
- This will be an open administration.

Ten days after the film was released,

Nixon resigned.

Watergate was
the unspoken background of all this.

This is where it was leading.

Maybe Nixon will be better.

What's the difference?
They're all a bunch of jerks.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

[people laughing]

[Ashby mutters]
That's- That's basically-

[Ashby chuckles]

[laughing continues]

I don't think there's an award
for what Warren Beatty had to do

to get Shampoo on,

but I respect him and love him

and Robert Towne.

And my director, Hal Ashby,
who encourages an actor to fly without a net

because you know he's there to catch you.

After Hal had done Shampoo,

there was an attitudinal change.

He'd finally gotten his due.

Because Harold and Maude
came and went,

and The Last Detail, it did okay.

And then he went off and did Shampoo.

That was his first major success.

- Whoo-wheel

And, uh, of course
that means more money too.

And he felt like he was- he had arrived.

I think that there was
a slight attitudinal change.

You now have
new sponsors, Woody,

and, uh, they've insisted that there be
no controversial material on their program.

Does that mean... I can't do
my own songs on the show?

Of course you can sing
your own songs,

long as it doesn't
get anybody riled up.

[announcer] He loved freedom as much
as he loved the people he sang for.

His name was Woody Guthrie.

The story of this man who couldn't be bought
is being recreated on film

by director Hal Ashby and co-producers
Robert Blumofe and Harold Leventhal.

♪ Oh, you can't scare me
I'm sticking to the union ♪

♪ I'm sticking to the union
I'm sticking to the union ♪

♪ Oh, you can't scare me
I'm sticking to the union ♪

♪ I'm sticking to the union
Till the day I die ♪

The care to detail in this movie-

It's like every single person
gave a shit every single second.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

And they didn't just care about the day.

They cared about this moment,
what I'm capturing right here.

All of that went into the fabric of that film.

[Wexler] That was a difficult film to shoot,
with a lot of trains

and, uh, tough stuff of simulating dust

and, uh, wind machines.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

We shot a million feet of film
on Bound for Glory.

And, uh, looked at every foot of it.

You'd shoot all day,

and then you'd go to dailies, and you'd say,
“How many reels of dailies?”

Twenty. I was like, “Oh, no.”

I mean, it was, you know-

'Cause Hal looked at everything.

He looked at everything,
and he remembered everything.

And Hal was under a lot of pressure

to get it done.

And also a lot of pressure
from the family

and representatives of Woody

that what was getting done
was not what they thought was right.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

I got word that Hal fired me.

It was frustration.
I mean, we were over schedule.

Not that it was Haskell's fault, per se.

And Hal was having a difficult time
communicating with Haskell,

and they- he- I don't know.

It was- I mean, because Hal and Haskell
were really, really close.

Don't push me out!

When he was under pressure,
he did look for sustenance.

His drug of choice
was unambiguously marijuana.

That was his thing,
but he had dabbled in cocaine.

David Carradine talks about his cocaine use
on the set of Bound for Glory.

It's kind of funny thinking of David Carradine

as like the cool-headed,
conservative voice of reason,

but that's kind of what he was
in that moment.

I'd been down Hal's room to say, um,

“Stop taking that stuff up your nose.

I'm going to work and no one else
is shooting. You know?”

[Ashby speaking on tape]

Bound for Glory was the first theatrical use

of the Steadicam.

[man shouting]
I'm payin' four cents a bushel!

[men shouting]

[man] Four cents!
So line up over here by the gate!

When I wanted to do that shot,

I mentioned it to Hal.

He said, “Yeah, it'd be great.
Try the shot, you know.”

[man] Line up over here by the gate
in single file!

His openness, when all these other pressures
were on him to try something

that may not work. [laughing]

And because he has some imagination

and some belief in me.

Of course, I didn't know
it'd work for sure or not.

And the winner is Haskell Wexler,
Bound for Glory.

I want to thank all the fellow workers
on Bound for Glory.

As all of you know better than anyone,

filmmaking is a cooperative thing,

and we had- we had a good crew,
good people, and a good film.

Thank you.

Whether it's authentic
about Woody Guthrie's life,

it's authentic about America for me.

It doesn't matter to me
if it's Woody Guthrie or not.

That character becomes
a folkloric character

to tell us something about America

and about human experience.

Seeing that ominous blackness

swallowing up all hope for people
at that time,

with the world wars, with the rise of Hitler,

and our economy here-
the banks failing-

that black cloud
is not just in Oklahoma.

It's not just the dust bowl.

But also, it becomes the larger issues

that were gonna become the struggle

for people like Woody Guthrie.

That don't mean nothin'.

Well, if it don't, what does?

I know it ain't me and the kids.

You don't think nothin' about runnin' off
whenever you get the urge.

Oh, Mary-Ann.

Don't even talk like that.

Now, I truly care about you and the kids.

I truly care.

Well, that sure ain't the way it seems.

You're spending your whole life out there,
trying to fix the world!

You're not doing nothin' to help our family.

Oh, hell!

Well, I really believe that Hal
was about peace and love.

I think he cared about the world.

I think his movies,
they were standing up and saying,

you know, the war was crazy.

I think he was actually
trying to do some good.

But, um, peace and love in his own life

was hard to come by,

and he didn't do a good job of that.

I grew up, I think, pretty much
just like any other kid...

except I had a dad out there

that I didn't know.

I was born in September.

My mom and Hal, they moved
into their own apartment.

I would go to Grandma Ashby's a lot
when I was really little.

And she just was crazy about me.

Grandma was on him pretty good.

I think she wanted him
taking care of us,

and she did not want
the situation to be as it was.

He wanted to work for his family.

He couldn't find anything in Ogden.

And so he went up north
and worked in the oil fields first.

He ended up, of course,
leaving there and going to California

and starting his career.

I only think he stayed around
for about nine months.

He was 17 and, you know,

most people when they're 17,
those relationships don't last,

and the weight of fatherhood
did not fall well upon him.

I have asked for this radio
and television time tonight

for the purpose of announcing
that we, today,

-have concluded an agreement-
-[crowd] Liar! Liar!

To end the war and bring peace with honor
in Vietnam.

I had spent about three years

talking to members of the military-

all branches of the service.

I really wanted to make a movie

that was about the Vietnam War
from the point of view of veterans.

One day I was asked to speak at a rally
at Claremont College.

The other speaker was a Vietnam veteran
named Ron Kovic.

And he said to the students,

"I may have lost my body,

but I've gained my mind.”

And I thought right then,

I can make a movie
based on that concept.

I believe that all of us grew up
with John Wayne,

that whole movie cinema image-

the toy guns, the Mattel submachine guns
that we got every Christmas.

The whole generation
was prepped and hyped

and conditioned by our culture,

which is so violent and which is so-
which so romanticizes war.

We were ready to go.
We were ready to fight.

We thought that the war was going to be
like the John Wayne movies.

But it wasn't. It was different.

When we came home and tried
to tell the American public

about the reality of the Vietnam War,

that it wasn't a war to help people,

but it was a crime against humanity

and against the Vietnamese people,

they didn't listen to us-
they threw us in jail.

We didn't get nothing for it.

They gave us a piece of paper
that says to us

we are Vietnam veterans
and we can get disability,

and we can get this,
and we can get a job,

and we ain't got-

[man] Whoa, baby.

[man 2] Calm down.

Hal started with an idea
that he had been keeping

in his pocket,

which was that he was gonna get

a bunch of guys who were wounded.

And he had me on a gurney, 'cause that's
where I was in the opening of the picture.

So he said, “Jon, you just stick back there.
We'll just improvise a bit.

You guys talk about your experience.”
And they were all vets.

What a smart idea.

You call the draft not being forced?

I ain't saying the draft in our country.

I'm talking about another country

that's having something forced upon them,
or an individual-

It's all to get you
to go fight for somebody else.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

That was Haskell's brilliant cinematography-

very unobtrusive, cameras far away.

Just setting Jon Voight
into the middle of it, listening,

really set a tone.

It just went right past artifice

and, like, you were in it, it was real.

You know, like all of a sudden
I'm, like, into these guys.

Like, who are these people?

Some of us need to justify to ourselves

what the fuck we did there.

So if we come back and say
what we did was a waste,

what happened to us was a waste,

some of us can't live with it.

It just felt authentic.

And the power of the cut to
that Stones song.

[fingers snapping]

[Russell] Bruce Dern running
on that military base

to “Out of Time” by the Stones,

a song I'd never fully
explored or understood.

But, boy, once I saw it in that movie,

he explained that song to me, Hal Ashby.

♪ You're out of touch, my baby ♪

♪ My poor, discarded baby ♪

♪ I said, baby, baby, baby ♪

[Cholodenko] It's sort of
an obvious parallel to action.

With something like that,
usually I would be cynical. “Yeah, yeah.”

I didn't feel like that at all.

I felt like somehow with that Stones song
and with the setup

and the authenticity-

He had me. I believed it.

[Ashby speaking on tape]


The first thing I did was I got a chair.

Then I went out and found
a group of paraplegic basketball players,

most of them vets,

and tried always to be one of the team,
one of the people.

[man] No one ever saw Jon Voight
out of his wheelchair.

He would wheel himself
everywhere- to the set.

There were a couple of times
when we were shooting upstairs,

and I saw the grip
sort of somewhat reluctantly

carrying him in his chair
up the stairs.


[Ashby speaking on tape]

When we started Coming Horme,
there was only 23 pages of script written.

Waldo Salt had been writing the screenplay.

And Waldo Salt had a heart attack.

-[Jones] Hal called me one day and said, uh-

Will you come down
and rewrite the script?

It was about a 200-page script
with a second act

that lost its structure
and it didn't have an ending.

It was a terrifying experience.

I want to say that I'm really shocked.

I'm just shocked that you'd rather
write about a goddamn home run

-than about what's going on in this hospital.
-[woman)] Sally, please.

[Fonda] While we were shooting,
a lot of it was improvised.

It was certainly the most improvised movie
that I had ever done.

What are you saying?
That you're not even gonna make the effort?

What I'm saying is

I do not belong in this house!

A lot of what was told to me
by wives and by soldiers

are actually lines in the movie.

And the character of Sally

was based on the women that I met.

And partly on me because the Vietnam War
changed me very much.

[chuckling] He's not gonna like the fact
that I've- I've changed.

And I have changed.

You know, she realizes
that what she has believed

is a lie.

And a lot of the women
that I interviewed... knew that.

[Jeff Wexler]
When the last scene was proposed,

Hal said early on the only direction
he was gonna give Jon Voight

was you're there, you're in the chair,
of course,

you're gonna talk to the high school.

That was it.

He said, “Do you know what you want to say?”
Yeah, I did. I'm gonna improvise it.


[Ashby speaking on tape]

[Dern] About a quarter of the way
through shooting the film,

Hal came to me one day,
he said, “Dernsey-"

He said, "I got the end."

And I looked at him
and, uh, you know,

I expected him
to hand me some pages.

And, uh, he said,
“Uh, right here.

Jon is gonna go to the high school
in the wheelchair.

He's gonna give this eloquent speech.

And Jane is gonna say
her piece to you and leave.

And you're gonna head out across the beach
to the edge of the water,

take your clothes off, and go into the sea
and vanish forever.”

And I said, “But, Hal.

I mean, Jon's gonna get
to speak at the high school.”


“Jane's gonna get to say something to me.

And I don't get to say anything?”

[laughter continues]

[Jeff Wexler]
It was so all over the map,

that when it was all done,
I remember talking to Pop.

The reaction was,

“We've just lost the movie.”

But Hal was happy as hell.

He knew he had it.

We weren't thinking like editors.

And, in fact, in the final movie,
it's a brilliant scene.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

There's a lot of shit
that I did over there-

that I find fucking hard to live with.

And I don't want to see
people like you, man, coming back

and having to face the rest of your lives
with that kind of shit.

It's as simple as that.

I don't feel sorry for myself.
I'm a lot fucking smarter now than when I went.

And I'm just telling you...

that there's a choice to be made here.

The winner is Jon Voight
in Coming Home!

The winner is Jane Fonda
in Coming Home.

The winner is-

Nancy Dowa, Waldo Saff,
and Robert C. Jones for Coming Home.

Coming Home!

I want to thank Hal Ashby.

You're not here, Hal,
but I want to thank you for your taste,

and for your courage,

for your ability with the scissors.

I'd like to thank Hal Ashby,
a remarkable-

a remarkable person

who was so helpful
in getting me to myself

and encouraging my performance.

- But, uh-
-[static hissing]

After this, I do a film that's been
my ambition to do for the last seven years.

Can you tell us what it is?

A subject called Being There,

which will be directed by Hal Ashby.

And it'll come out
around about electioneering time.

It's non-political, but if has a lot to say

about what can happen in life.

It is- To me, it's a perfect movie.

And in my moments of self-doubt,
when I think about what I do for a living,

and I think, what is the bar
and how far am I from the bar,

the bar is always Being There.

[female newscaster] This morning
the president met in the Oval Office

with foreign dignitaries-

[man] He learns everything
from the television. He does.

He learns how to
shake hands and tip a cap.

And then it works
in the real world.

It's all about artifice over substance.

Mr. Gardiner, what was your reaction

to the Post editorial
on the president's speech?

I did not read that.

The fact that he's so indifferent
and doesn't understand the stakes

of the world he's operating in
is so refreshing to everyone

because they're all
so freaked out about power.

Look, we can give you
a six-figure advance.

I'll provide you with the very best
ghostwriter, proofreaders.

- I can't read.
- Of course you can't!

No one has the time.

We-We glance at things.
We watch television. Tsk.

I like to watch TV.

Oh, sure, you do.

When Hal and I started talking about it,

we kind of decided that it was a film
about power and politics,

that it was not treated
like a comedy at all.

I mean, we shot it to look like a film

that, if Peter Sellers wasn't in the movie,

it would be a serious movie.

Chauncey, you have the Russian ambassador
eating right out of your hand.

You know that?
I didn't know you spoke Russian.

It's incredible.

It is extremely useful
to speak Russian today.

I was thinking about
Jerzy Kosinski's background,

because he's a Holocaust survivor,

he knows fascism firsthand.

And the fact that he was drawn
to the nature of celebrity,

that he saw how celebrity can just spark
and kind of shine out of nowhere,

and before you know it,
millions of people are following an idiot,

uh, and that can be both really funny
and really horrifying.

[Deschanel] It was based on this book
by Jerzy Kosinski,

but the script that we used when we made
the movie was written by Bob Jones.

[Jones] So I read the three scripts
that Jerzy Kosinski,

the novelist, had written.

The first one was bad,
and the second one was terrible,

and the third one was unreadable.

Got rid of those
and started with the book.

Kosinski loved it, but he also said,

“I'm not gonna share credit with anybody.”

And Hal told me that,
and we both laughed. “Sure, sure.”

[Ashby speaking on tape]

It was like a knife to the gut.

And I didn't get credit.

I think the amazing part of the writing

is that this childlike, ADD,
savant state that he's in

lines up so perfectly

with what this giant, 300,000-square-foot
house of power needs desperately.

Do you realize, more people
will be watching you tonight

than all those that have seen
theater plays

in the last 40 years?

- Oh, yes?
- Yes.


Hell, I don't know.

It's definitely one of the more astute movies
when you talk about celebrity.

It has that dark edge to it.

It has the fact that celebrity
is a really dangerous thing-

the randomness of it.

It's for sure
a white man's world in America.

It is possible to be flooded in one part-

Hell, I raised that boy
since he was the size of a pissant.

And I say right now
he never learned to read and write.

No, sir.

Had no brains at all.

No, he's a real gardener.

He does talk like one.

But I think he's brilliant.

[TV audience applauding]

All you got to be is white in America

to get whatever you want.

[TV audience cheering,
whistling, applauding]

Peter was terrific
through that whole movie.

I mean, you hear these nightmare stories
about Peter Sellers,

and he can be very difficult.

And basically, what it got down to

is that on Hal's sets,
you never had a problem with the actors.

They were involved in the process.

They loved what Hal was doing.
They loved Hal.

[man] TV.

Go ahead.

Hello there.

This is Peter Sellers
speaking to you from MGM Studios,

Culver City,
right in the heart of Hollywood,

which, as you know, is movie land.

We are here- That is to say,

Hal and I- Hal Ashby, our director.

- Hal?
- Hello.

Hal has made many,
many successful films

such as, um, uh-

Tomorrow's New Yesterday
and, um-

Backwards Before Dawn.

Backwards Before Dawn
was another huge success.

You realize he was
way ahead of the curve as far as media,

all as a way to
kind of simulate wisdom

and actual intelligence.

And you look at our culture now,

and it's exactly what it's become.

But we're well aware that billionaires
want to control the government

and control legislation
to serve themselves.

And it's also about picking
someone that you can control

so that they'll do your bidding.

What about Chauncey Gardiner?

But what do we know of the man?

Absolutely nothing.

- We don't have an inkling of his past.
- Correct.

That could be an asset.

The last scene of Being There,

one of the most magical scenes
in the history of my watching movies,

and combines a lot of elements, I think,

that say all about Hal.

It's smart.

It's human.

It's bizarre.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

It was slightly controversial
because I think there were some people

at Lorimar and other places
who didn't like it

because it was kind of like-

[Ashby speaking on tape]

The whole idea of it, you know,

was they couldn't fathom it.

It made no sense to them.

[Ashby speaking on tape]


[pop song intro playing]

In film school,
when I started making films

and thinking about who was influential
to me as a filmmaker,

I would cite, like, the obvious people

that came out of that tradition-

Coppola and Scorsese,
and then there was the great French filmmakers.

But I knew somewhere, like,
there's some seminal films

that were really humanistic that I'm-

Like, who made them?
Why am I missing something?

I'm missing some piece of this.

It's still astonishing to me
why he hasn't had his due.

The '70s was a very weird time.

It was a very special time,
I mean, in terms of, you know, the filmmaking.

[Towne] It was the habit
of executives at that time

to kind of let us do
what we wanted to do.

And I think their attitude was, “Okay,
you go ahead and do what you want to do.

If it doesn't work, you'll never work again.”

The '80s came about,
and everything changed.

It was just kind of the end
of the character-driven drama.

It must have been a shock to their system

when Reagan stopped enforcing
the antitrust laws

so everything started to monopolize,

and you had, like, what now is
five companies owning all the media.

[Mulvehill] The studios all became
formal corporate entities.

You had to deal with bureaucracy.

Hal was in constant conflict with that.

He was an artist,
he wanted to make his films,

and they're interested
in-in the business.

[Jewison] They were all suits,

and they have only one interest-


You know, it's really interesting

that, like, I am a huge Hal Ashby fan.

And I am ignorant of his films in the '80s.

I don't even really remember the experience.

I return constantly to
his seven films of the '70s,

but there's something about-
there was a break somehow.

[Bill] Usually you make
an unsuccessful movie, so to speak,

at the beginning of your career,
not at the end of it.

That was a tough film.
It wasn't successful.

It hurt me because
it wasn't successful for Hal,

probably more than myself.

[man] Normally, director'd say “Cut.”
You know, it's not anything.

He would just keep rolling.

A lot of footage.
Tremendous amount of footage.

And that was one of the problems.

And we were so over budget.

Lorimar was going crazy.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

He'd write memos, long memos,

heartfelt, passionate memos.

[Foster] I honestly don't think
we should kiss their asses,

singularly or collectively,

just because it's tough
to make deals at this time.

I would rather have no deal at all

than do this.

A lot of people would say
to him- and his attorneys-

“When it's on paper, it's there forever.

So, why don't you have
a phone conversation?”

But he wouldn't have it.
He just didn't wanna do it.

- I don't wanna talk to you. Jerry-
- Please.

I don't want to talk to you!

- I don't wanna talk- Please, Jerry, please.
- Trying to understand you.

I don't want to talk to these people.

He's trying to understand you,
and he's being extremely kind.


[Macmanus] I mean,
there was this dark place that he went to.

He got to a point,
and then he just ran from it.

Can I try?

People laugh when I say this too,

but that's my favorite movie of his.

And he did it for me.

And the little girl, who was Angelina Jolie,
at the end, was me.

Your daddy's, uh-

- He's a nice man.
- You are too.

I'm gonna get a cab. Taxi!

- Can I go play with my teddy?
- You sure can.

And it was the little girl
that didn't know her father,

and the man that couldn't be her father.

I think he just always ran...

the other way.

You know, his dad
had committed suicide.

When you have issues,

you know, with your parents
and with your childhood,

and they're unbearable,

you don't deal with it.

And I think, you know,
he didn't deal with those things.

Ashby was supposed to direct Tootsie.

- Some incredible footage that Haskell Wexler shot.
- Yes, Jean.

Things seemed to be going really well
in our preparation.

How'd that look, Haskell?

[Wexler] Uh, yeah,
she looks pretty good.

Can we just see her profile?

No, look at me.

Ashby had not yet delivered
Lookin' to Get Out.

[Padilla] He had just finished the film.
He had done his director's cut.

And they wanted another one, and he said,
“No, I'm working on Tootsie.”

[Dawson] Columbia withdrew their offer
of employment to him

because Lorimar said that
they would sue if Ashby worked on it.

This was about them
throwing around their weight

and about showing him who was boss.

[Foster] It seems
my frustration and anger

grows with each and every day.

- I have absolutely no contact with any of them,

which is just as well, as all I would
want to do is yell “fuck you” at them

until my voice gave out.

Beyond a doubt, they are all the prize assholes
of all time who have not one ounce of talent

aside from that of really knowing
how to be really super liars,

cheats, and generally bad people.

Boy, oh, boy.

I wish, uh-

[man] Who are you?

I'm Matt. I'm an alcoholic.

[group] Hi, Matt.

[man] I did a movie with Hal
called 8 Million Ways to Die.

He said that- “And the way I work, Jeff,

the script is just a sketch.

It's not really anything
like the movie's gonna be.”

I said, “Oh, really?”

He said, “Yeah, I'm mostly interested in

the substance abuse aspects of the film,

not so much the cop drama.”

-[man] Stoli, for the lady.
- Go ahead. Have another.

Care to join me?

The great thing about Hal
was if things weren't working,

even on the page,
he just had this freedom,

like allowing the actors to kind of create
within the space of what's happening

and their characters and just filming it.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

They were on him, I know,
like, just the studio-

just on him so horribly.

[Jeff Bridges] I can't blame the financiers
for being a little uptight

because, you know,
he wasn't following a script.

But you got to look at the pudding
that's coming out of this guy's oven, man.

He's the master.

Look what he's done and he's gonna
do for you if you just let him.

[Dare] Were you aware of the way he works
before you got involved with him?

I mean, did you know
he was gonna improvise?

[Damon] Um, I knew that Hal
was a very talented director,

and when we hired Hal,

we hired, um, a man whose talents

we knew would eventually
come out on the screen.

[Jeff Bridges]
We left.

At the end of the movie,
Hal gave it to his editor to assemble.

He was gonna take two weeks off.

And this producer came in

and kidnapped the film,

fired Hal,

and proceeded to cut the film

just totally against the grain.

[Dare] I mean, you do agree that one
of Hal's greatest skills is in editing?

[Damon] Um, Hal certainly has
a reputation of being a great editor.

[Dare] Right.

And they all think they can cut a film.

They all think they know
how to make a film.

They figure if they can just get rid
of that asshole that shot the film,

then they're gonna get in the room

and they're gonna make those choices

because they really know
what to do and how to-

I mean, they're off in fantasy land.

[Foster] Dear Mr. Ashby,

In light of your persistent
refusal to communicate with us

in various production
and post-production personnel,

despite phone calls
and written requests,

and your representative's assertion
that you will only talk to us

at a DGA “hotline” meeting,

you have presented us
with no alternative

but to deem your conduct
tantamount to a resignation

or, in the alternative,
to remove you immediately

from all further involvement
with respect to 8 Million Ways to Die.

[Dawson] Studios would use his reputation
as a drug user against him

to disgrace him
and be the publicly given reason

for the disintegration of a relationship.

[Griffis] I mean, the things I read,
I can't even believe,

because it's not who I observed.

[Mulvehill] And, uh, he was
just the next thing to a junkie.

It was all bullshit.

But I mean, it was all stuff
that they had fabricated in their own minds

about, you know, where Hal was

to kind of justify their own actions, I think.

I live in a world I didn't make.

I know that now.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

He loved the films that he made,

and he was so emotionally
invested in them.

[Foster] Dearest Norman,
Since we talked, I have, needless to say,

been giving the whole thing a lot of thought.

To date, my conclusion has been thus-

fuck... them!

[Gossett Jr.] He was so sensitive
of what's right and what's wrong.

He fought for us.

But if you fight nose-to-nose
with the head of a studio,

you're going to lose.

[Islam] ♪ Trouble ♪

♪ Oh, trouble, set me free ♪

♪ I have seen your face ♪

♪ And it's too much
Too much for me ♪

I think the nightmare
for people like Hal Ashby

probably was that
when you start a project,

people say, "I totally believe in what
you want to do and I'm gonna support you.

Go for it.”

Then when they start seeing it,
they panic and try to shut you down

or control you.

Usually it starts with
somebody kissing your ass,

saying, “I'm not
gonna fuck with you.”

And then they fuck with you
till you lose your mind.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

[no audible movie dialogue]

♪ So won't you be kind to me? ♪

[Arquette] This really hurt his spirit
and his soul, you know?

I don't know
if he knew he was sick then.

I think that he did, and this was like
the straw that broke the camel's back.

It was like some kind
of stake in his heart.

♪ You have made me a wreck ♪

♪ Now won't you leave me in my misery? ♪

When he got sick, when he went
into the hospital, it was so sudden.

♪ Ah ♪

They did all the tests, and-

[sighs] found that he had
pancreatic cancer.

They gave us three months,
but we had four.

And that extra month was... forever.

♪ Trouble, move away ♪

♪ I have seen your face ♪

He was surrounded by-
[clears throat] by people,

and, uh, he had many,
many people who loved him.

And, uh,


I just wish that his life
had had a better ending,

a better third act,

a better last reel.

♪ Trouble ♪

They didn't respect him,
and it killed him.

♪ Please be kind ♪

♪ I don't want no fight ♪

♪ And I haven't got a lot of time ♪

[foghorn blowing]

[Jeff Wexler] I believe it was actually
Jeff Bridges that contacted me

and said, “We're talking Hal out to sea.

We're going to spread his ashes
right off the coast of Malibu.”


Bud Cort.

At his memorial, Bud Cort got up.

Hal liked me the best.


And everybody in the audience laughed

because they knew
that when you worked with Hal,

you always felt
that you were his favorite.

And he had this remarkable,
incredible sensibility

that would just make everybody
want to do their best work.

Hal didn't want to die.

He wanted to make another movie.

'Cause that's all he- that's all he lived for.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

His greatest priority
in his approach to his work

was to tell the truth.

If executives got in his way,
he was always ready to take a stand.

[Ashby speaking on tape]

I'm really, really, really proud of you.

And not just because
he was this great director of the '70s

or that he had this insight.

He's that shining star.

He was just a wonderful example
of the human spirit

and what we're capable of.

To make seven great films in nine years

is a tremendous, uh, force of will.

♪ A long, steady fine ♪

The big name that comes up,
I think, more than- of the new filmmakers

is Hal Ashby.

♪ Now that you're gone ♪

♪ I have nothing but time ♪

In retrospect, when I look back, I say,
“Well, now that I see all the influence he has,

it seems, in a way,
that he's not gone at all.”

We're all artists, whether we're literal artists
that paint or make movies.

But, you know, life is an art piece,

and Hal approached it that way.

I've certainly had a number of people
approach me

and tell me that
it has changed their lives.

Just to have anybody walk up
and say that it changed-

it has a very strong effect
on me as the filmmaker

and great hopes that it can do
that kind of thing for people.

[men vocalizing]

♪ We all forgot, dear ♪

♪ We can't forget, dear ♪


♪ All the time ♪

♪ All the time ♪

♪ All the time ♪

♪ All the time ♪

[switch clicks]

♪ Well I left my happy home ♪

♪ To see what I could find out ♪

♪ I left my folk and friends ♪

♪ With the aim to clear my mind out ♪

♪ Well I hit the rowdy road ♪

♪ And many kinds I met there ♪

♪ Many stories told me
On the way to get there ♪

♪ Ooh-ooh ♪

♪ So on and on I go ♪

♪ The seconds tick the time out ♪

♪ So much left to know ♪

♪ And I'm on the road to find out ♪

♪ Ooh ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ In the end I'll know ♪

♪ But on the way I wonder ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Through descending snow ♪

♪ And through the frost and thunder ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ I listen to the wind come howl ♪

♪ Telling me I have to hurry ♪

♪ I listen to the robin's song ♪

♪ Saying not to worry ♪

♪ A-ooh, ooh, ooh ♪

♪ So on and on I go ♪

♪ The seconds tick the time out ♪

♪ So much left to know ♪

♪ Well I'm on the road to find out ♪

♪ A-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Well I found myself alone ♪

♪ Hoping someone would miss me ♪

♪ Thinking about my home ♪

♪ And the last woman to kiss me ♪

♪ Kiss me ♪

♪ Well sometimes you have to moan ♪

♪ When nothing seems to suit you ♪

♪ But nevertheless you know ♪

♪ You're locked towards the future ♪

♪ Hmm-hmm, hmm-hmm ♪

♪ So off and on you go ♪

♪ The seconds tick the time out ♪

♪ There's so much left to know ♪

♪ And I'm on the road to find out ♪

♪ A-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh ♪

♪ And I found my head one day ♪

♪ When I wasn't even trying ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ And here I have to say ♪

♪ Cause there is no use in lying, lying ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Yes, the answer lies within ♪

♪ So why not take a look now ♪

♪ Kick out the devil's sin ♪

♪ Pick up, pick up a good book now ♪

♪ Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh ♪

♪ Yes, the answer lies within ♪

♪ So why not take a look now ♪

♪ Kick out the devil's sin ♪

♪ Pick up, pick up a good book now ♪

♪ Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh ♪

♪ Yes, the answer lies within ♪

♪ So why not take a look now ♪

♪ Kick out the devil's sin ♪

♪ Pick up, pick up a good book now ♪

♪ Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪

♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪