Thursday, January 15, 2015

Clint Eastwood's America, Part IV

Everyone Loves Clint

Clint and Frankie Valli on the set of Jersey Boys
We can only hope that American Sniper isn't Clint's final statement.  One of the problems with doing a biopic on a figure that is a right wing icon is that you have to keep pretty much to the story.  There wasn't much room, nor does it appear much attempt, to place Chris Kyle within a larger context.  He remains an "American hero."  Clint seems perfectly fine with that.

Just the same, Clint is being lauded for his efforts with a Director's Guild nomination, and an Oscar nomination for the movie.  Everyone loves Clint.  Pauline Kael is no longer around to call his motivations into question, although Amy Nicholson makes a game effort in her review for The Village Voice.

We seem to need Clint almost as much as we need these war movies.  He has become an American icon himself, as witnessed in 2012 when he was called on to give a speech at the Republican National Convention.  It didn't turn out very well, but just the same his presence lent an air of nobility to the event that was otherwise lacking.

Even though he has never strayed very far from his conservative roots, he is as much loved on the left as he on the right of the political spectrum, with Bill Clinton honoring Eastwood for his lifetime of achievements in 2000.  Donald Sutherland was on hand, reminiscing of the time they worked together on Kelly's Heroes back in 1970.  Probably the best tribute was that of Jim Carrey a few years before at the American Film Institute.

It is easy to forget just how many projects Clint has worked on over the years.  I remember Thunderbolt and Lightfoot from 1974.  This was Michael Cimino's directorial debut.  Cimino had written the script for Magnum Force and was considered a budding young talent.  The action flick also featured a young Jeff Bridges as Clint's sidekick.  It's interesting in that it is one of the few times Clint was a "bad guy."

He doesn't show any signs of slowing down.  He did two films this year, although most have already forgotten Jersey Boys.  It seems he has laid his quintessential characters to rest.  Pretty hard to top Unforgiven, and we certainly don't need anymore reprises of Dirty Harry.

He appears to enjoy working with Hollywood's A-listers today, as they do working with him.  J. Edgar didn't seem to quite work out.  It was like he was trying to find something inside the notorious FBI director that we all missed but it was pretty much a costume drama.

It would be better if Clint stayed away from the biopics.  It really isn't his thing.  His best characters are long and lean, drifting on the edge of the great American frontier, leaving it to our imagination to fill them out.


  1. I give Eastwood praise for being a consummate filmmaker. At an age when major stars are in retirement, Clint is not only still going strong. He continues to find interesting new projects that provoke discussion and sometimes win acclaim. Whatever his political views may be, he keeps a tight enough rein that they never fatally mar his films. Major stars of all different political stripes have expressed how rewarding they found it to work with him.


  2. Interesting to read all the faux controversy being generated by the right wing press over AS. Hannity and Limbaugh both jumped on Michael Moore's and Seth Rogen's negative comments, making them sound like a liberal cabal, when to look at Metacritic, most reviews have been positive, including those in the New Yorker and Rolling Stone,