Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

With Robert Towne at JDIFF

The legendary screenwriter of Chinatown, The Last Detail and Shampoo touches down at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Sun, Feb 17, 2013, 16:10


Look. It’s Robert Towne. The writer of Chinatown, The Last Detail and many other classics was at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival today for a screening of Shampoo and a conversation with your current correspondent. The selection of Shampoo, an off-centre sex comedy starring Warren Beatty, was, in many ways, a canny piece of programming. Chinatown is better known, but the later film came at a very interesting point in Hollywood history. In our conversation, Towne did not dispute the legend that a golden era for mainstream America came to an end with the release of Jaws in 1975. While Shampoo was making the case for grown-up cinema that defied categorisation, the Spielberg film — which Towne greatly admires — was demolishing records and forcing home event-movie thinking. As Robert put it today, the business became more about the cereal box than the cereal inside.

In later years, the great man plied his trade as a script doctor and eventually emerged as chief writer on the first two Mission: Impossible films. He told us that his next big project is a film based on The Battle of Britain. This has been done before, of course. For the 30th anniversary of the outbreak of war, a rather garbled, deeply star-studded film sprawled across thee world’s cinemas. Towne looks to develop a film that gets closer to the characters and offer a more lucid explanation of the strategies.

We wave him goodbye and wish him all the best.