GROWLS AND ‘SWELLS’: AN ANALYSIS OF CLINT EASTWOOD (PART 4)

| June 3, 2015

EPISODE 4: HARDY HAR-HAR

Of the films in Clint Eastwoods career we have seen him test his boundaries so often, one tends to never act surprised if he steps outside of the role of tough guy and into something such as grizzled boxing trainer, recovering alcoholic journalist, washed up carney, and tender yet ultimately disappointing lover.

But there’s one place Clint can’t go without ridicule and people laughing: Comedy.

(Interesting note: comedy can thrive off of the ideals of ridicule and … huh, laughter)

Sadly, Clints comedic side never quite caught on the same way some tough guys have been able to (i.e. Mel Gibson, Channing Tatum, Arnold Schwarzenegger), yet 2 of the 4 times he went into this realm proved to be the biggest box office intakes his films ever received with him starring. And those were the two films people still cannot believe adorn his filmography, mainly because Clint is not so much the attraction in those films as his primate co star was.

Yet still, like any talented man, you have to give it up to him for being able to give it the old college try and delightfully showing a side seldom seen: Fun Clint.

So join me will you, as we explore the exploits of a skip tracer in hot pursuit of a Broadway darling, a tough talking gangster with a memorable mustachioed compadre, and a bare-knuckle boxer named Philo Bidoe and his best friend Clyde.

EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE

3.5 outta 4 Clydes

The mark of Clint Eastwoods acting career can be laid on: gritty cop, silent cowboy, grizzled old man, and ‘that movie he did with the monkey.’ First off, as filmmaking friend Scott Schulte will kindly remind me often, Clyde is an orangutan, a member of the ape family. Secondly, to reduce EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE to merely a film where Clint goes bananas with an ape is somewhat a disservice to what does work about the film: A blunt film about utter losers.

Clint plays Philo Bidoe, a rough and tumbling bare-knuckle boxer who lives a low but satisfying existence with his friend and manager Orville (played by the late great Geoffrey Lewis), his tough as nails mother (Ruth Gordon), and his ape buddy Clyde. When he thinks the country singer he has fallen for (Sondra Locke) has been spirited away by her boyfriend, he travels to Colorado in search of her. Along the way they meet a cute farmers market girl who falls for Orville named Echo (Beverly D’Angelo), piss off some cops, and cross paths with a dangerous motor cycle gang that dresses like they came straight from a weird psyeudo Nazi Rally before returning to their meth lab ( and this was before Sons of Anarchy people).

Everything in this film SOMEHOW works. It lies in a strange place of intrigue that plays to our inner desire to watch the most random events unfold (how many people saw a Hangover movie) and our desire to watch losers make it out somehow better than they once were, even if the story lands on a back to one. Yes, we are dealing with something primordial, but when you see Clint and Clyde in a montage of going from strip clubs to adult book stores, one cannot help but laugh. There is even something to be said on Sondra Lockes character, who epitomizes more reality and darkness in her performance than most generic romatic comedies can ever seem to pull off, and this happens during a film where a primary goal is getting an ape laid in one memorable scene at the zoo.

The lesson here: never underestimate.

ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN

2 outta 4 Clydes

The continuing adventures of Philo Bidoe seems like it makes a mockery out of everything the first film stood for… Yes folks the preceding statement was written, and with thought too.

Picking up where the first film left off, Philo is about to quit the bare knuckle fighting game when he is offered a handsome sum to fight a mob backed fighter. Hilarious hijinks ensue as a result, bringing back nearly everyone from EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE into play for a wild romp of almost absolute non-sense and mayhem.

The inherent problem is that the film negates everything from the first by bringing back Sondra Locke through tedious lazy writing to make her a likable love interest to care about. It’s a cheap trick, cheaper even than the clever twist near the end when the motorcycle gang suddenly becomes allies with it’s prey from the first film. Everything is turned upside down for the sake of… of…. well thats just it, I’m just not sure how to finish that sentence.

Regardless of all that, the film contains fun moments, an epic bare knuckle brawl at the end, and Clyde tearing up automobiles with his bare ape hands. All set to the tunes of Glen Campbell. It’s a rather interesting mess.

CITY HEAT:

2.5 outta 4 Dapper Hats.

CITY HEAT follows a rough tough detective (Clint Eastwood) teams up with a wise cracking private investigator (Burt Reynolds) to take down no good gangsters in Kansas City in the 1930’s.

Everything about that blurb should make me and any fun loving individual run immediately to the theater to demand they revive it. But hold your horses, it’s not quite the gold we seek eager prospectors.

The dead weight sadly lies with Clint in this picture that might otherwise work as a separate venture with Reynolds and maybe Dom Deluise. It’s not that Clint isn’t funny per say (his tough guy and shoot em up bravado gets funny lampoons in the picture), it’s just that he’s not able to keep up to believably team up with a smooth talker like Reynolds plays in the film.

Still, Clint does entertain in spite of the handicap, and Reynolds once again proves his god given talent of producing chuckles. The film also features fun visual aesthetic that fondly remembers it’s era thanks to the serviceable talents of director Richard Benjamin.

PINK CADILLAC

1 OUTTA 4 …. Ummm Pink Cadillac’s?

A skip tracer tracks down a bounty who’s baby has been kidnapped by her meth addled husband and his white supremacist buddies.

That’s Pink Cadillac, the film with a terrible reputation that sadly deserves it.

Clint, oddly enough, is the only one in this film that is delivering something interesting. He plays a skip tracer who dons all kinds of wacky disguises and costumes to catch the perps, and they are actually decent pieces of comedy given Clints persona. But even that small kick cant improve what probably would have been better off as a Fox Movie of the Week in the 90’s.

HOWEVER, I encourage one watch Pink Cadillac in a room full of friends. There are laughs to be had, just not the ones the film was going for.

___________
That is 16 films with 41 more to go.

Will Clint ever get to tell young people to get off his lawn?

Will anyone every make Harry Callahan’s day?

Will The Man With No Name every find out what it is via his birth certificate?

Tune in next time and find out!

About the Author:

Zach Eastman is the filmmaker responsible for films such as TWOMBLEY (Starz Film Festival 2012 Official Selection) and THE BOY WHO STARES. He is also the producer of Matty O Connor's film GUNS DRUGS AND SYNERGY, Adam Jewels award winning film THE ZONE, and Tony Grosz's TWO YEARS SINCE FRIDAY. He has been a frequent guest on REEL NERDS PODCAST and now is one of their contributors.
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