Tuesday, October 30, 2018
The Old Man & the Gun--The original story ...
When we saw The Old Man & the Gun the other night, I noticed that the screenplay had come from a piece in the New Yorker. I decided I would download the piece (a subscriber's privilege!) and read it. And this morning I did.
It originally ran (under the same title) on January 27, 2003, and was written by staff writer David Grann. He spent many hours interviewing the "old man"--Forrest Tucker--in a Fort Worth, TX, prison--and as I was reading the piece, I had one of those "duh!" moments when I realized that the title was a take on The Old Man & the Sea. (Duh! Duh! Duh!)
There were quite a few differences between the film and the "truth"--another "duh!" moment! For example, the whole Sissy Spacek aspect of the story (a woman he meets while escaping a robbery, a woman he gets involved with) did not happen at all--though some aspects of their relationship are evident in other relationships he had.
He also--for a term--had one accomplice, not the two we see in the film. He also had more weapons available than the film showed us--though he never used them, just let the tellers and bank officials know that he had them.
We learn a lot more of his biography in the article--all is kind of mysterious in the movie. And we learn, as well, that he'd hoped for a career as a musician (sax and clarinet). Didn't work out.
The multiple prison and jail escapes referenced in the film are also based on fact--including the dazzler from San Quentin that I will not say more about lest you still plan to see the film.
One of his pursuers (played by Casey Affleck--very well--in the film) was, indeed, Sgt. John Hunt, whose looks Affleck mirrored: "a drooping mustache and a slight paunch," says the New Yorker).
We learn, too, that Tucker wrote his own story and tried to peddle it in Hollywood (to Clint Eastwood!), but all came to nought (till now), so he returned to bank robbery.
Tucker also had a son and a daughter (by different women), both of whom Grann spoke to. And some interesting comments they had about a father they'd never known.
One of the cool moments in the film--when he presents a list of his escapes to Sissy Spacek--has a basis in reality, too: He showed the list to Grann instead, and the final number in the list (a bit larger number than in the film) has the same characteristic--which I'll not reveal, in deference to those of you who've not yet seen the film.
A long article--some twenty pages printed out--but worth every second I spent with it.