Walter Hill doesn’t get the cultural respect he deserves.
Directors like George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg are household names, and rightly so.
Hill’s legacy doesn’t burn as brightly, but it comes close. Here’s a partial list of projects he either wrote, directed or produced. Any Hollywood dweller would kill to have this resume:
- The Warriors
- Southern Comfort
- Hard Times
- Streets of Fire
- The Long Riders
- 48 Hours
Hill is back this month with “Dead for a Dollar,” a solid western starring Christoph Waltz, Rachel Brosnahan and Willem Dafoe. Waltz plays a bounty hunter torn between completing an assignment and realizing his benefactor may be a very rotten soul.
The filmmaker is making the press rounds to support the film, an indie western facing stiff winds at the box office. He opened up to Moviemaker Magazine about the film, working with Dafoe again after all these years and, near the end, his thoughts on the new woke environment.
Hill clearly had something he had to share on the subject.
The filmmaker described how he refused to make “Dollar” woke in the conventional sense. The story in question features a woman in an adulterous relationship with a black army deserter. It’s one of several subplots that could be “re-imagined” for modern sensibilities.
“I thought that I would anchor the issues of race and feminine possession in a man’s world within the period of that time, and not have a 2022 debate. I wanted an 1897 debate,” says Hill. “I think that’s only fair to the audience and the characters.”
Hill also weighed in on his last directorial effort, “The Assignment.”
The film followed a hit man who is transformed into a woman by a vengeful surgeon. Critics savaged the film, suggesting he mishandled the story’s trans themes.
What was unfortunate is there’s nothing in the movie that violates trans theory, and it reinforces trans theory. That is to say, what you are inside your head is what you are. But I did not completely understand it was too soon to deal with trans stories in a comic-book style film. We’re still in the phase where it is perceived that it must be treated as hallowed ground. I miscalculated. The woke environment is still very pervasive.
The Moviemaker conversations wraps, but Hill refused to let it end without this chilling note on current cultural trends.
But look, you’re giving me a chance to say this: this woke environment, politically correct environment, is a terrible thing. And it hurts. It is death to the arts and it’s death to creativity. There’s no question that there were injustices in the past. Nobody is arguing that point. But how you redress it is how you treat the future.
Hill is part of the old Hollywood guard. Others in his age group, including John Cleese and Terry Gilliam, recoil over cultural trends in the arts.
Hollywood’s younger generation, even established movie stars, either ignore the issue or support the new woke revolution.