From Chinatown to Niketown

Robert Towne, the best screenwriter in the business and the man who invented Jake Gittes, is back with a bio of Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine

Moore explains that rewriting occurred throughout shooting. But what impressed Sanger was that Towne "had real style as a director and was absolutely as relentless about images as words." During the racing scenes, Hall doubted the film would cut together; Lambert, who came onto the movie during postproduction, points out that some of the crew found it hard to grasp that Towne's shots were based on emotional principles. But by the end he sensed they got it. And the audience gets it.

Bowerman's eulogy for Pre ends the film. He says that Pre persuaded him that "the real purpose of running isn't to win a race -- it's to test the limits of the human heart." It so perfectly sums up what we've seen that it carries no trace of sap or pretentiousness. We tear up from the shock of recognition. Lambert says they played with diverse ways of handling Pre's memorial service before deciding the simplest approach was the best -- keeping the camera trained on Sutherland's restrained yet spellbinding delivery of Bowerman's eulogy. It's also the most honest tactic: Unlike the guests at a wedding, people at a funeral or memorial service don't dart around to look at other people crying. Hall says that when "Robert sees something happen with actors or the camera or from any venue of the production, he responds like a lost soul who's just found the truth." Hall echoes the maxim that Towne says he learned from Mark Twain: "When in doubt, tell the truth.

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