Paul Farren takes a look at Wayne Byrne’s latest book which shines a light on the iconic filmmaker Walter Hill.
Film writer Wayne Byrne continues his unofficial mission to write a book a year with his most recent addition, Walter Hill: Cinema of a Hollywood Maverick having been published this November. Though I must note this is actually his second book published this year, also published was Welcome to Elm Street, an in-depth volume about those Freddy movies. I’m happy to say that his high output does not diminish the quality of his books.
His latest volume delves into the film career of Walter Hill, mainly the man’s writing and directing. Hill is a remarkable filmmaker with some iconic films under his belt. The influence of his work is far reaching and even the most casual film viewer may be aware of some of his films, most notably his adaptation of The Getaway, directed by Sam Peckinpah, The Warriors (1979) – a cult classic, that inspired many cheap imitations and 48hrs (1982), the film that launched the film career of one Eddie Murphy and was a huge influence on the evolution of the buddy cop movie, epitomised by the Lethal Weapon series. Scriptwriter Shane Black may also have been heavily influenced by Hill’s script for the mostly (unfortunately) forgotten, Hickey & Boggs (1974). His scripts alone have had a huge impact on filmmakers. The script for his directorial debut Hard Times (to my mind one of the most accomplished debut films ever made) has been lauded by many filmmakers, including Quentin Tarantino, as a consummate piece of scriptwriting.
Hill’s work can be described as genre driven, the influence of westerns, can be especially seen in nearly all of his work but this statement doesn’t do justice to the depth of character and story Hill presents on screen. His career began in the sixties and continues today. Eighty years young he is still active as a filmmaker, his most recent work being Dead for a Dollar (2023), starring Christoph Waltz and Willem Dafoe.
Byrne delves deep into Hill’s filmmaking career film by film. Using research, analysis and interviews with some key allies, collaborators and the great man himself, he presents an entertaining, informative look at Hill’s career from his early days writing for such greats as John Huston and Sam Peckinpah through his oeuvre and his alliance with the great producer Larry Gordon. It is filled with great interviews from his collaborators and peers, all enthusiastic to talk about their work with this unique filmmaker.
Walter Hill: Cinema of a Hollywood Maverick is an entertaining book on the man’s work and is long overdue; in fact this volume represents one of the few volumes written about Hill’s career. Hill’s involvement alone makes this a great read. And it is filled with great interviews. Hill’s self-depreciative manner and quiet intellect add great insight into his work and paint a picture of a man of great integrity and talent.
If you like books about great genre cinema then this deserves a place on your bookshelf or your kindle.
Walter Hill: The Cinema of a Hollywood Maverick is out now.