Sunday, June 27, 2010

Clint Eastwood Movies

Last year, while waiting for a copy of Gran Torino on DVD to come in at the Library, I decided to have my own little Clint Eastwood film festival, which ended up spanning two months or so. Many were films I had seen before but wanted to refresh my memory, some were films I'd never seen or just hadn't seen from start to finish in all their unedited glory...

Over 2 months time I'd watched;
I kicked it off with two Clint Eastwood starred & directed westerns which both have supernatural overtones, High Plains Drifter {1973} (I love how he gets his drink on, his aggro on, and his lay on all within the first 10 minutes of rolling into town) and Pale Rider {1985}.

The Fistful Of Dollars Trilogy aka the "Man With No Name" Trilogy);
A Fistful Of Dollars {1964}, For A Few Dollars More {1965}, The Good, the Bad and The Ugly {1966}

Of the three, I'd have to say my personal favorite is 'For A Few Dollars More'. I really enjoy Clint's partnership with Lee Van Cleef (who plays the altogether different character 'The Bad' in The Good, Bad and The Ugly).
Now there's a lot of people who think that The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the pinnacle of Clint's westerns, or even the best western ever made. But at nearly 3 hours long, I think it's a bit bloated, and I could do without the interjection of the Civil War.

Other westerns;
Hang 'Em High {1968}, Two Mules For Sister Sara {1970}, Joe Kidd {1972}, High Plains Drifter {1973}, Outlaw Josey Wales {1976}, Pale Rider {1985}, and Unforgiven {1992}.

And how about that Josey Wales. I laughed at Josey always spittin' chew spit on everything. But what did the dog ever do to you? Jerk!

I'd have to say that out of all Clint's westerns, my favorites are High Plains Drifter and For A Few Dollars More.

Next up I completed a 5-movie 5-night Dirty Harry marathon.
The Dirty Harry 5;
Dirty Harry {1971}, Magnum Force {1973}, The Enforcer {1976}, Sudden Impact {1983}, and The Dead Pool {1988}.

The character makes the films, but there are certainly better movies out there with Dirty Harry-esque characters.
I think my personal fave may have been Magnum Force, the 2nd in the series where he goes against the band of vigilante traffic cops.
Harry Callahan does seem a bit too much of a bitter old man in the last two Dirty Harry movies (filmed in the eighties), rather than the groovy fluffy-haired rebel he was in the first three.
That and I think the last three movies get bogged down by the 'chick factor'. Harry has to deal with his first female partner in The Enforcer, Sudden Impact centers around the scorned female killer, and lastly the pushy reporter in The Dead Pool.
Jim Carey's 'music video' scene where he mouths the words to Guns N Roses "Welcome To The Jungle from The Dead Pool is hilarious.

But yeah, it'd be great to tell your bosses to stick it up their ass, keep your job, and go run around the city playing judge, jury, and executioner blasting all the 'punks and hoods' you want and walk away from it scot-free and with a clean conscience to boot - who doesn't want that from time to time?

Other movies where Clint plays a Cop;
Coogan's Bluff {1968}, The Gauntlet {1977}, and Tightrope {1984}.

I enjoyed The Gauntlet (movie poster by the father of "Fantasy Art", Frank Frazetta), and thought that out of all the Clint Eastwood films with Sondra Locke, her role in The Gauntlet was her most pronounced performance.

World War II films;
Where Eagles Dare {1968} and Kelly's Heroes {1970}.

I really enjoyed Brian G. Hutton's two WWII films with Clint Eastwood, and they'd be strong WWII films with or without Eastwood. I have to admit I was taken aback at how well the WWII films played. The action, intensity and pyrotechnics were on par with many of the WWII films of the past 15 years. Make no mistake about it, these are big scale war films regardless of if they were made today or forty years ago.

And other films;
The Beguiled {1971}, Play Misty For Me {1971}, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot {1974}, The Eiger Sanction {1975}, and Firefox {1982}.

Clint Eastwood and Universal paid $25,000 to use the titular song, "Misty" by Erroll Garner in the film. "Misty" is a legendary jazz standard that will forever be etched into my mind, as it was in my Father's piano playing repertoire ever since I was born until the day he died. So I'd probably heard that song on and off for a good 25 years.

The movie Firefox spawned Atari's only Laserdisc based arcade game a year later. Watch Eastwood himself try out the arcade game in this video clip from Entertainment Tonight.
After all is said and done though, Firefox (the movie) is damn long and boring. It only picks up when he finally steals the dang thing and that's like 3/4's through the movie.

Finally was Every Which Way But Loose {1978} and Any Which Way You Can {1980} and I was all Clint'd out.

Movies and Television Shows featuring Chimpanzees, Gorillas and Orangutans in the mix was a recurring theme back in the seventies and early eighties. As a matter of fact, with the exception of The Ghost Busters which had a man in an ape suit, you could find a show featuring a real live primate on the television dial (including reruns) on one of the big three networks from 1975 all the way through 1981.
Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp which ran from 9/12/70 to 9/2/72 on ABC, The Ghost Busters (no relation to the movie Ghostbusters with Bill Murray, Dan Akyroyd and Harold Ramis) which ran from 9/6/75 to 9/4/76 on CBS, Ark II which ran from 9/11/76 to 12/18/76 (reruns played until 8/25/79) on CBS, B.J. and The Bear which aired from 2/10/79 to 8/11/81 on NBC, and finally a show entitled Mr. Smith which aired from September 23, 1983 to December 16, 1983 on NBC. Mr. Smith was based around the premise of an Orangutan who drinks an experimental mixture to increase human intelligence and after drinking the mixture is able to talk and is later determined to have an I.Q of 256.

+1 for Escape From Alcatraz {1979} (I own the DVD), In The Line Of Fire {1993}, and the Eastwood directed Costner starred A Perfect World {1993}.

As for Gran Torino {2009}

I enjoyed it, but I kinda felt like his self-sacrifice at the end was, in a way, symbolic in Eastwood making amends for his 'take no prisoners' violent filmography of the past, and that's just not something I can get behind. If it's time for the Man With No Name/Dirty Harry to take a fall, the only way he should go out is guns a'blazin. No concessions necessary.

P.S. I've never understood the appeal of John Wayne. There's a real generational gap there.

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