The Harder They Fall Took Inspiration From The Godfather Part II [Exclusive]

Did you catch the "Frasier" reference in "The Harder They Fall?" A '90s sitcom about a Seattle psychiatrist might be an unlikely source of inspiration for a Western with warring gangs of gunslingers, but it's just one of the many influences that writer-director Jeymes Samuel incorporated into the movie.

/Film's Shania Russell recently conducted a wide-ranging interview with "The Harder They Fall" editor Tom Eagle, who said, "This is the only movie I can think of that has references to Malcolm X and Frasier in the same movie — and that tells you everything you need to know about Jeymes."

Another source of inspiration for "The Harder They Fall" was "The Godfather Part II." That film toggled between the present and the past, juxtaposing the story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) with that of his father, Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), as a young man. Eagle found himself drawing from director Francis Ford Coppola and editor Walter Murch's approach on the film as he was editing together the storylines of the two gangs in "The Harder They Fall." He explained:

"Even through the second act, we were constantly cutting back and forth between the two gangs. And there was a lot of positioning, everyone getting in place for the final confrontation. And it felt like it was more satisfying if we consolidated a lot of that. We took a lot of material out. Once we'd done that and the film was quite lean, we were crosscutting quite a lot. So we consolidated a lot of those storylines so we would go with one gang and stay with them for a while, for three or four scenes. And it just felt like a deeper, more satisfying approach."

Giving Each Narrative Room to Breathe

It was while consolidating material and reducing cross-cutting that Eagles looked to "The Godfather Part II." He continued:

"As we were doing that, I was watching 'The Godfather II' DVD and Walter Murch was talking about how they tested the film, that movie, with a lot more inter-cutting between the past and the present, the Pacino and the De Niro storylines. And they found the same thing, that they really needed to consolidate and allow people to settle into each story and follow that for a while before cutting back across to the other gang."

Certain directors, like Christopher Nolan, thrive on cross-cutting, with "Inception" being one example of a film that gets crazy with it across multiple dream levels. However, by giving each of the two parallel gang narratives in "The Harder They Fall" room to breathe across several scenes before cutting away from them, Eagles and Samuels are able to get the audience fully invested in both sets of characters before pitting them against each other.

"The Harder They Fall" stars Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo, and Danielle Deadwyler, and is streaming on Netflix now.