During the Attica prison rebellion reporters were calling into Gannett’s evening newspaper office with the details.
A young “rewrite man” was on the other line.
He took their words and crafted a story that won the reporters a Pulitzer Prize.
That rewrite man was Jack Garner.
Many know Garner now as the Democrat and Chronicle’s film critic.
Below are some of the answers to some of Adam’s question for Garner, asked days after Garner announced the end of his regular column.
Adam: What made you crazy about the movies to begin with?
Garner: When I was a kid I’d cross the Susquehanna River (in Pennsylvania) with a dollar from South Williamsport to Williamsport where the movie theater was and I had a choice of using that dollar for the movie and having plenty left over for popcorn or something or to buy the latest record because I bought a lot of those too.
I think I saw that they were a way to explore all sorts of things. I mean, thanks to the movies I’ve been on the top of Mt. Everest, I flew with Peter Pan, I swung on a rope with Tarzan if I could find a rope strong enough to hold me. With the negative experiences, like the storming of the beach in Saving Private Ryan or something horrible like that, you at least learn about it by watching it and when the lights come up, you’re OK, so you get the experience without the experience, you know what I mean.
Adam: What’s one review that when you look back on it you think, I missed the boat on that one?
Garner: One was Taxi Driver. The great De Niro and Scorsese film, I initially thought it was pornographic, really gratuitous violent porn, but I came to realize it was quite the opposite, it was a really powerful story that had a lot of violence in it, but it was really giving a message about the kinds of people who can be in our society.
Adam: How about a review that was ahead of its time?
Garner: I was very proud that the studio who did it told me that my praise of The Black Stallion had more people see it per capita in this community than anywhere else in the world. I think I saw it as one of those amazing children’s films that transcends childhood.
Adam: what movie had the most influence on you in your own life?
Garner: One is On the Waterfront. Even then I recognized how great Brando was. I maintain that in the 120 year history of film no performance has yet to equal Brando and On the Waterfront. I just think it was an astonishing performance.