An in-depth critical re-appraisal and inside account of director Hal Ashby's final feature film 8 Million Ways to Die starring Jeff Bridges, Rosanna Arquette and Andy Garcia.
Hal Ashby was one of the most renowned directors of the 1970s, helming such classics as Harold & Maude, The Last Detail, Bound for Glory, Shampoo, Coming Home and Being There. In the 1980s, however, his reputation suffered amongst studios who considered him "difficult" and who removed him from projects before he could assert his right of "final cut".
Ashby's final film was, uncharacteristically, a thriller. Based on the novel by Lawrence Block and starring Jeff Bridges, Rosanna Arquette and Andy Garcia, from a script originally by Oliver Stone, 8 Million Ways to Die was a troubled production.
The script was re-written several times and much of the film improvised between the director and his leading actors, much to the dismay of the studios who sacked Ashby before he could edit the film. Ashby sued the production company and declined to take possessory credit of the final release. So too, stars Bridge and Arquette vociferously denounced the movie in the popular press, lamenting the editing choices made without Ashby (an Academy Award winning editor).
When eventually released, the critics lambasted the movie and it found itself quickly on VHS release. It grew a small fan appreciation - in part now due to the nude appearance of later Baywatch babe Alexandra Paul - but languished thereafter gathering dust on store shelves.