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The Untold Truth Of Unforgiven

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“Unforgiven” is not considered one of the best films of all time for nothing. The direction, pacing, acting and script are all on point and trimmed clean of every single inch of excess fat. It’s surprising, then, that Clint Eastwood’s longtime collaborator and The Outlaw Josey Wales co-writer, Sonia Chernus, sent Eastwood an internal memo in January 1984 that cast nothing but shadows over the David Webb Peoples screenplay.

You can see the original memo, which reveals Chernus’ venomous dislike for the script, at the Clint Eastwood Archive. Chernus admits she only read the first 40 pages — which allegedly made her sick — before skimming the rest, writing that she doesn’t care how it ends. She calls the script “trash” and an “insult,” criticizes what she describes as a lack of believable characters, and accuses Peoples of having a basic understanding of dramatic writing.

However, the director thought differently. In an interview with DGA, Eastwood revealed that he thought the script for Unforgiven was great in its original form. He first asked Peoples to make a few changes, but soon realized that the more he tinkered with it, the more likely he was to steal his thunder. Eastwood said he called Peoples and said, “Forget what I said about these changes. All I’m doing is changing the title.”



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