SON OF ‘BULLITT’
Speaking of “Bullitt,” its other writer, Harry Kleiner, virtually disappeared from the screen for a dozen years after only a couple of post-"Bullitt” credits, which included “Le Mans” (1971). When we saw his credit as co-screenwriter (with Deric Washburn) of “Extreme Prejudice,” we wondered about those “missing” years.
He told us he wanted to “spend some time away from Hollywood.” That included heading to Yugoslavia at the government’s invitation to research “The Man Who Defied Stalin,” about the life and times of Tito, a miniseries on spec that’s still unproduced. There were other spec projects, including “Fantastic Voyage II” (Kleiner did “I” in 1966). Then a stint living in the desert, where he penned a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy (with 20 songs) titled “Undine and the Unicorn,” also unproduced.
A phone call from Hill in February of 1986 got Kleiner involved in “Extreme Prejudice” (originally scripted by John Milius a decade ago).
Kleiner and Hill were in a car, en route to the airport (and the film’s Texas location), when he asked Hill, “Why’d you pick me?”
Turned out that Hill had been second assistant director on “Bullitt"--and recalled Kleiner’s talent for writing and rewriting on the set--daily. “That’s what he told me I’d be doing for his picture,” said Kleiner.
He’s since done the first draft for “Rambo III.” And he wrote “Red Heat” from a Hill idea, which Hill will direct in August, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Moscow’s toughest cop, who comes to Chicago on a drug case.
Said Kleiner, whose screen credits go back to 1945: “I’m back in the swing of things.”