My all-time favourite film, set during wartime, is 633 Squadron (1964), starring Academy Award Winner Cliff Robertson. You may know him better as Peter Parker’s uncle in Spider Man.
633 Squadron is also one of my favourite movies of all time. The editing is tight and the action is the edge-of-your-seat stuff of legend. Here’s some trivia for you: did you know 633 Squadron was George Lucas’s inspiration for the Death Star attack in Star Wars IV – A New Hope? A great deal of the credit for the film’s taught style and human depth can be attributed to Cliff Robertson, who had enough influence in Hollywood at this time to ask for rewrites of film scripts. Cliff was at the very pinnacle of Hollywood’s acting elite and is still, to my knowledge the only actor to win a Grammy each for film, theatre and advertising. His Oscar for Charly was well-deserved and if you haven’t seen that, PT 109 (where Cliff played John F Kennedy) or 633 Squadron, see them.
Cliff was one of my childhood heroes and I was lucky enough to correspond with with Cliff at the end of his life. Along with many other fans, I always wondered what happened to his character, Roy Grant, at the end of the film. He is badly wounded but we can’t be sure whether he survives or not. After a heated discussion on youtube, I decided to try and contact Cliff to find out. With the help of Stephen Thompson, Cliff’s Press Agent, I was able to write a letter with a set of questions and get these to Cliff.
To my complete surprise, he replied! Not only that, but he was very forthcoming in his answers and asked me to go to America to interview him, in his words ‘mano a mano’. Unfortunately I was unable to do that before his death, to my lasting regret. Cliff left a lasting impression on me as a man of great warmth, generosity and genuine curiosity. Here is the question and his response:
10. It seems a question of debate as to whether Roy Grant survives at the end of 633 Squadron – we would like to have your personal opinion on this?
Cliff: I did not particularly like the ending and so stated because there was an ambiguity as to whether Roy Grant lived or died. However that’s just my opinion. Walter Marrish, the producer is a fine gentleman and a delight to work with. He happily is still with us and lives in Beverly Hills.
You can read the interview in full by clicking on Cliff Robertson Interview in the main menu.
Cliff was a towering figure in Hollywood, for reasons which I won’t go into here, but which you can find out about yourself if you take the time. Please don’t let this outstanding actor and personality be forgotten. I recently dedicated my novel Attack Hitler’s Bunker! to Cliff.
Stephen Thompson is now working on producing an honorary documentary about Cliff, both as an actor, and his aviation accomplishments. Below is a video of Cliff talking about some of his concerns about modern Hollywood films and below that an extract from Stephen’s project page to raise seed money to get the project made. He has contacted John Travolta, Harrison Ford and many other people who knew Cliff. Brian Gillogly (Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story) has agreed to direct the documentary. The project is gaining pace but the project needs your support. I have known Stephen for a few years now and I have found him to be utterly dedicated to Cliff’s legacy and reliable. Anything you can spare will be greatly appreciated and you can have your name on the Honour Roll at the end of the documentary. See further down for more details.
Video Courtesy of Jason Wissinger — Storm Maker Productions
From Stephen Thompson’s project page:
In order to produce the project at the quality level I envision, developing the project will take a substantial amount of time on our parts, so I am raising $9500 to cover the development expenses, minus the $410.00 I raised earlier this year through our IndieGoGo campaign.
Development is the business foundation of our project. Without proper development, our project will never progress beyond the discussion stage.
I feel fortunate to have found the video shown above, and obtain permission to use it, because this particular video shows Cliff as I knew him.
So please like the project on Facebook then learn more about the project, and consider making a donation in order to help make the project happen.
As always, thanks for your consideration and assistance!