This Clint Eastwood film producer was a USMC veteran

Joel Searls
Mar 25, 2024 8:57 AM PDT
Reviewed byTessa Robinson
5 minute read
Fritz Manes and Clint Eastwood, on set. IMDB.

Fritz Manes and Clint Eastwood, on set. IMDB.


Before he produced iconic films for Clint Eastwood, this USMC veteran served in the Korean War.

Fritz Manes lived an interesting life as a service member and a professional in Hollywood. He was born and grew up in the Bay area. He met a young would-be star named Clint Eastwood in high school. Manes moved on to UC Berkeley, got his Bachelors of Arts and joined the Marine Corps. He served for four years, with 14 months of that in the Korean War. Post-service, he worked in a number of different jobs including as a disc jokey in Oakland. By 1973 he had enough and followed his true passion, film. Manes got a job working at Malpasso, Eastwood's company, and served in a litany of roles. These include assistant to Eastwood, Associate Producer, Producer and Executive Producer. He served as an assistant to Eastwood on such great titles as The Outlaw Josey Wales and The Enforcer.

Manes moved up in the world by earning Associate Producer credits on The Gauntlet, Every Which Way but Loose, Escape From Alcatraz and Bronco Billy. His responsibilities increased to executive producer credit which carried on for Honkytonk Man, Sudden Impact, Pale Rider and Heartbreak Ridge. He earned full producer credit on Any Which Way You Can, Tightrope, and City Heat. He also got to portray small roles in many of the films. He and Eastwood parted ways after Heartbreak Ridge. Some of his best work is in the following list, which is worth watching.

1. Heartbreak Ridge

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Every Marine's favorite movie pastime is watching Eastwood portray the grizzled and highly decorated Gunnery Sergeant Highway in Heartbreak Ridge. Eastwood whips his recon platoon into shape, handles the arrogant brass with curt flair and saves the day just in time for him to have a cigar once the action is over. The film was made in 1986 and starred many venerable Hollywood working actors who can pull off portraying career Marines. The movie is set during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. Highway shows up, institutes some much-needed discipline and trains his Marines as a team. When they are called upon to deploy to Grenada they do so and bond further under the stresses of combat. Although not that well received by the real Marine Corps at the time of its release, the film has a cult following among service members and serves as a pop culture reference for one tough, old Marine, is that Gunny Highway?

2. Escape from Alcatraz

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Escape from Alcatraz has Eastwood cast as the real-life escapee of Alcatraz Island, Frank Morris and his accomplices are John Anglin (played by Fred War) and Clarence Anglin (Larry Hankin). The story begins in 1960 with Morris' arrival on the island. The movie builds with Morris builds making friends and pilfering key items to escape along the way. Morris partners with the Anglin brothers whereby they plot their escape. They make papier-mache dummies to act as decoys with using hair clippings from the prison barber shop to make them look real from a distance under the covers of a bunk in a cell. The crew also dig out the walls of their cells with makeshift spoons as the concrete had degraded greatly in the salt air of San Francisco Bay. They make a raft out of raincoats sewn together. The film ends with the open interpretation that the crew potentially escaped and left behind elements of their personal effects in the water to give the impression that they drowned. Check this one out to see Clint in a different type of role.

3. Pale Rider


Eastwood portrays The Preacher in Pale Rider in which his character is a reference to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Preacher rides a pale horse, which signifies him being Death. The film was the highest-grossing western of the 1980s. He shows up in the film as an exacting angel standing up for the oppressed. His character has bullet wounds on his back, which signifies the fact he is no longer a living being, but more a spiritual one. The Preacher stands up to a corrupt mining baron, marshall and the marshall's posse in the best, systemic gunfight showdowns in cinema history. In one interesting moment, when The Preacher is described to the marshall, the man jolts because the person being described to him is dead, someone he likely killed. A reckoning is coming for the evil millionaire and hollow lawmen in the form of Clint Eastwood. The trailer will provide ample details to the engaging story of the film.

4. Sudden Impact

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Sudden Impact is the fourth installment of the Dirty Harry series which was directed, produced and starred Eastwood himself. The film also starred Eastwood's love interest, Sondra Locke. The movie is notable for the famous quote written by John Milius, "Go ahead, make my day." Inspector Harry Callahan is forced onto a vacation by his superiors whereby he goes to San Paulo, which is the location of Jennifer Spencer (Locke) who is after the criminals who raped her 10 years prior. Callahan works to solve the murders in San Paulo that Spencer is committing, which are the rapists she has sought revenge upon. Callahan takes on his own brand of justice to help Spencer find her own justice against these criminals which leads to a showdown on the real-life Santa Cruz boardwalk at night. Check out the trailer to wet your renegade, tough-guy appetite.

5. Tightrope

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Tightrope hit theaters in 1984 with Eastwood as the star which was written and directed by Richard Tuggle. Eastwood stars as New Orleans police detective Wes Block who pursues a killer stalker on the streets of NOLA. He is a single father of two who has his hands full with life. Block investigates the grisly murders by the serial killer and comes to find himself and his family as the next targets. Action, suspense and great performances across the cast are of note in this neo-noir psychological thriller. An interesting person to watch for is Alison Eastwood, his real-life daughter, portraying his daughter in the film.

Manes passed away in October 2011 at the age of 79. His film legacy lives on.


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