Clint Eastwood’s production company Malpaso made their first film, Hang Em High, in 1968. In 1971, Eastwood directed his first feature film, Play Misty for Me. While more famous for being an actor, he is quite an accomplished director. As of his last film, Gran Torino, Clint has directed 29 feature films and has two more, Invictus and Hereafter, in production. He has won the Oscar for Best Director twice (Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby) and been nominated twice more (Letters from Iwo Jima and Mystic River). That’s not a bad set of accomplishments for Rowdy Yates.
1. Every Which Way But Loose (1978) – “Philo Beddoe (Clint Eastwood) is an easygoing trucker and a great fist-fighter. With two friends — Orville, who promotes prizefights for him, and Clyde, the orangutan he won on a bet — he roams the San Fernando Valley in search of cold beer, country music and the occasional punch-up. When Philo falls hard for sexy country singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke), he sets out to win her over”
Ah James Fargo’s ode to bareknuckle boxing, honky-tonks and diners that teaches us if people call you names then it’s ok to not only inflict bodily harm but also random massive property damage. Yes the Orangutan is quite funny as is Ruth Gordon and veteran character actor Geoffrey Lewis provides good support. Blues Brothers (1980) is essentially the same movie – our heroes are roadtripping while being pursued by the police and a comical Nazi biker gang. People watchers: look for Mel Tillis and Charlie Rich playing themselves in small roles. This is a minorly amusing waste of time and was followed by a sequel, Any Which Way You Can.
2. City Heat (1984) – “In an inspired bit of typecasting, Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds star as a steely police detective and a slick private eye, respectively, in this 1984 Richard Benjamin-directed film that melds comedy and high-octane thrills. The two men are so different it’s almost inevitable that they end up working on the same case together … and, against all odds, maybe even solving it!”
Ugh yet still another buddy cop film – is there a more tired genre? This isn’t actually a bad film – Richard Roundtree is a lot of fun, Rip Torn is a villain, and Madeline Kahn a socialite in distress and there are some nice period touches. Burt Reynolds mugs his way through the film and Clint Eastwood scowls – both of which I’m sorry to say seem like lazy performances. Blake Edwards wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay (as Sam O. Brown) but left as director (Richard Benjamin replaced him) after differences with Clint. The film isn’t funny enough to be a comedy, there’s no real mystery, no memorable action setpieces (other than an utterly ridiculous garage shootout) – basically just a passable waste of an hour and a half.
3. The Rookie (1990) – “Veteran cop Nick Pulovski (Clint Eastwood) is used to playing musical partners; many of the partners he’s had in the past have died on the job, and often as a result of Nick’s risky tactics. But the rookie (Charlie Sheen) who’s been assigned to help Nick bust a carjacking ring is almost as hotheaded as he is … and when Nick gets kidnapped, his newbie partner is his only hope.”
Yes it’s a swing and a miss for The Rookie! Sorry I couldn’t resist but so much of this movie is utterly ridiculous. The police lieutenant is hispanic presumably to offset that many of the low-ranking villains are also hispanic. Bizarrely, Raul Julia and Sonia Braga play Germans (no I’m not kidding) for no fathomable reason. The police (a ludicrous number of them) have Raul Julia and his confederates surrounded and are mere feet from them but let them go because they have a single police officer hostage. A police officer goes on an unbelievable rampage in a rough bar (randomly shooting up the place, setting fire to the bar, killing a dog) so that he can question the bartender. Raul Julia, a car thief, has his entire building wired to self-destruct. If I were a script reader, I would have a rubber stamp marked ‘LAZY’ and I would stamp every script that had a self-destruct or where the cellphone has no bars or is out of battery (24 I’m looking at you!). The script is awful as well. The final shootouts are exciting but then again when one of the villains has an automatic weapon of infinite firing (well almost), that helps. People watchers: Xander (24) Berkeley has a small part as Blackwell. Trivia – when one of the villains changes the TV channel momentarily, it is playing Tarantula – one of Eastwood’s first movies. Pass on this passable waste of time directed by Eastwood himself.
4. Unforgiven (1992) – “Retired gunslinger William Munny (Clint Eastwood) reluctantly takes one last job — and even more reluctantly accepts a boastful youth (Jaimz Woolvett) as a partner. Together, they learn how easily complicated truths are distorted into simplistic myths about the Old West. Gene Hackman (who won an Oscar) and Richard Harris stand out as old foes who have an unhappy reunion. The film also earned Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director (Eastwood).”
The last in a long line of Clint Eastwood westerns is not only his best but is an absolute classic. A near-complete deconstructuon of the classic mythological western, this movie doesn’t have a single virtuous character in it yet many of the characters are quite likeable. Unforgiven won four Oscars (Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actor for Gene Hackman) and was nominated for Best Actor, Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Writing Original Screenplay as well. The scenery is gorgeous, the characters complex, the script literate and the editing superb. You can’t really ask for much more in a film. The only caveat is to avoid this movie if brutality disturbs you – the violence is frequent and quite realistic.