EASTWOOD ADDRESSES AGING

Growing old is 'a fact of life', but, unlike 'sex', it cannot be ignored. It always occurs somewhere between 'birth', and 'death', hopefully, closer to the later, than the first.  Nobody ignores 'growing old' better than Clint Eastwood. Just months shy of eighty (DOB: 05/31/1930), the famed American filmmaker continues working at a pace that would kill any other ordinary octogenarian.
This is attributable to both his healthy lifestyle (vegan diet, and daily exercise), but mostly, his intense love for what he does -
Making Films.
CLINT'S HEALTH:

I doubt that even the most staunch Eastwood critic, if there are any left, can criticize Clint's approach to a healthy lifestyle. He acquired a set of weights as a young teenager, and has 'worked out' almost daily, ever since. He has exercised even when unable to access the gym, or the weights, and has 'gone for a run' on a regular basis, despite his busy daily work schedule. It's uncertain exactly when he chose to abandon burgers & and BBQ steaks, for a vegan diet, but it's a decision he has maintained since. And, to my knowledge, he has never 'preached' his wise decision to alter his diet, or any other of his numerous healthy choices
Another important lifestyle choice concerns his consumption of drugs, and liquor. Likely, the time of his birth (DOB: May 31, 1930), and period of his youth (40s-50s), contributed to his abstinence from drugs. By the time the consumption of 'pot', and psychedelic drugs, became popular throughout the youth of America, and beyond (early 60's), Clint was already in his 30's. Thus, as a teenager in the 40s, he was introduced to the standard 'drugs' of the day - cigarettes and beer.
   
Contrary to his "Man With No Name" persona, Clint has never been 'a smoker' (tobacco, or otherwise). 
                      Beer
, on the other hand, is a totally different story,
By the time Clint was an early teenager, he already stood well over 6 feet, and thanks to his daily work outs, his lanky frame was prematurely gaining mass, and filling out. Consequently, the young boy was driving his own car way before he was able to get his California Driver's License, and, I'm quite sure, drinking beer well before most of his high school buddies. No wonder the former 'quiet loner' was becoming a little more popular at Oakland Tech. When his dad found a job in Seattle, and his parents had to move, Clint convinced them to allow him to finish high school, by his sleeping on the old couch at the home of his High School friend, "Harry Pendleton's"  obliging parents.
Once his family left, the seventeen year old High School senior found a job at a local Oakland Jazz Bar, playing the piano for Beers, maybe dinner, and hopefully, even a few tips.

After graduation from Oakland Technical High School, when Clint worked an assortment of Bay Area factory and warehouse jobs, it wasn't unusual for him to join a couple of his co-workers for 'a cold one' after getting off work.
After working a few of these jobs, he decided that if he were going to work as a laborer, he wanted a job where he could work outdoors. Throughout his youth, Clint had always loved nature, and the vast beauty it offered. Together with his father, and sister, Jeanne, he enjoyed their mountain getaways, and trips to the lakes around their home in Redding, California, where the Eastwood kids learned to swim & ski.
A particular favorite of the family, was their visits to Yosemite National Park, where the mountainous views rivaled Sergio Leone's finest. Clint has often commented on the peaceful tranquility, and thee reflective insights, it would inspire within.
As a result of these desires, he had found a job as a lifeguard at Beaver Lake.
He had also tried firefighting, way back while still in his teens.
Unsure of his future career, the directionless youth tired of his 'no future' employment opportunities in the surrounding Bay Area,, even in San Francisco.
 Clint remembered one of his boyhood fantasy occupations, so he eventually ventured north to Oregon's Willamette Valley in 1949, where he found a position at the Weyerhaeuser Company pulp mill, soon fulfilling his fantasies by becoming a lumberjack. Though the work was hard, and dangerous, he loved it; especially on the weekends, when a gang of the workers would hit the nearby town of Springfield's local Country & Western Music Bar.
 - It was here where a young Clint Eastwood would take Beer consumption to its limit. -  

After an abreacted career as an Oregon lumberjack, Clint's future took a radically different turn.
By 1950, 'The Korean War' was becoming a harsh reality, and the healthy young men of America were now facing the choice of enlistment, to avoid the new U.S. Draft laws.
Recognizing the situation, Clint's gang of hard-drinking lumberjacks decided to travel down to California's Fort Ord to join the United States Army. Their exodus south included stopovers at every beer bar they could find along the way. Clint has remarked that, upon arrival, he was amazed that any of the drunken group of lumberjacks had passed their U.S. Army physicals.


The theme of this page is Clint's recognition of 'Aging', and its presentation in his later films. It is not BEER, or even the state of Eastwood's personal health. so let's quickly wrap this portion of the man's past by noting that: ---While in the armed services, Clint was assigned to be Ford Ord's head of swimming instruction, and also to lifeguard duty.
To supplement his income, he worked nights as a bartender, and bouncer, at the base's NCO club [Beer?]. After release from the Army, Clint met 'Maggie Johnson' at Berkeley University, and they soon relocated to Los Angeles, where they often hung out at the beach [Beer?] before their December. 1956 marriage in So. Pasadena.
While Clint pursued his future acting career, he, and Maggie, moved to the "Villa Sands" apartments at 4040 Arch Dr. in what became 'Universal City'.
The building was known for its large swimming pool, even larger parties, and the huge number of unemployed aspiring actors, and, of course, lovely actresses. residing in the apartments  {right}
During his quest for stardom, Clint worked a number of odd jobs, including many days digging swimming pools, under the blazing hot sun of LA's San Fernando Valley.  [need I even say "Beer"? - find Clint & Maggie in pool pic - "X" ] .
  Let's conclude this topic by stating that for the next 60 years, Clint has never been too far removed from the aforementioned 'COLD ONE'. Sure, he's been known to sip an occasional cocktail, or tall glass of champagne, while attending a swanky 'cocktail' party ("that's what they used to be called"), or some other 'big-time' Hollywood Awards celebration, but, in general, Clint's alcoholic  drink of choice is 'America's Finest',  AKA  "just a beer".  In fact, I'd be willing to bet, that because it was his choice, 'America's New Macho Star' almost singlehandedly helped make the Northwest's favorite,' OLYMPIA' become the popular brand for the 'everyman'

Not that Clint has ever been opposed to other brands of 'brews'.
As a matter of fact, for quite a while, he even had his own brand of beer,
"Pale Ale" 
a popular item served and consumed, at his famed restaurant/bar, the "Hog's Breath Inn"  in downtown Carmel. {below left}

Whether on the set directing his newest film, while overseeing it's editing in the edit room, or when he has the time, playing a couple rounds on his own golf course, and especially, "with the boys"  around the Hog's Breath fireplace, you'd be hard pressed to find this robust, devoted 'health nut', too far from the reach of his favorite liquid refreshment,   - "A COLD BEER" -


BACK TO "AGING"

There is no denying that CLINT EASTWOOD has always represented "a man's man".
From his earliest 'on screen' appearances, while at Universal,  {right -"Tarantula"-'55}
Clint embodies all that is masculine.

And the casting of his many different film characters never deviates far from that fact. His screen persona has become so established, that even screen legends like Gary Cooper, or John Wayne, fail to compare to CLINT EASTWOOD.

What many still fail to recognize is that Clint himself defined his iconic film characters. Remember, "The Man With No Name" was based on 1961's Yojimbo's ronin, (masterless samurai) warrior, portrayed by Toshirō Mifune. Clint was a fan of director Kurosawa's Japanese (soon-to-be) classic film, and envisioned himself in the role when he accepted the Italian production offer.

Not only did Clint define the character by replacing, or at least reducing, the dialogue, adding facial and physical expression in its place. he brought the character's entire wardrobe, including the little cigars, from the US when he left for Spain to film Italian director Sergio Leone's classic, "Per un pugno di dollari". The film spawned two "Dollar" sequels, each expanding on the "Dollar Trilogy's" prior release,
"For A Few Dollars More",
and "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly".
The character was so distinct, and strong that, for almost 30 years, fans worldwide watched him age on the big screen, through a dozen different names, andincarnations.
In fact, the iconic western character continued on screen until his ultimate cinematic demise in 1992's Oscar-winning blockbuster western, "UNFORGIVEN".
Though Eastwood failed to win after he was finally nominated for Best Actor, he enjoyed winning the coveted Academy Awards for Best Director & Best Picture.
As successful as Clint was for portraying his macho western characters, it's hard to believe the under appreciated actor is remembered best for the other iconic macho character he developed to 'kick off' the '70s.

A NEW FILM ICON

Clint Eastwood had played cowboys in a couple low budget westerns before landing the role of 'Ramrodder' Rowdy Yates on the popular CBS television western series, "RAWHIDE", in 1959. After achieving fame playing the polite, good looking, young 'cowpoke' on television for five years, his career reached a new level with his cold portrayal of a ruthless gunslinger, the mercenary star in Sergio Leone's "Dollars" Trilogy.
An international film star by 1967, he reprised 'toned down' versions of his western 'anti hero' for the majority of his next eight feature films.

1971 would signal a dramatic turning point in Clint's already hugely successful professional career.

       DIRTY HARRY
Much like "A Fistful of Dollars", the proposal for "Dirty Harry"  was presented to Eastwood after being rewritten numerous times, and rejected by a number of famed actors. Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Steve McQueen, and Burt Lancaster, all claimed to have turned the film down. In fact, the studio has stated that even Marlon Brando had been considered for the project, and also released to the Hollywood Press that Frank Sinatra would be starring in the film's title role.
Though this gun wielding tough guy anti-hero cop did have a name, the character itself wasn't truly defined. One can only imagine each of the above actors in the role, and the difference it would have made in the film's direction and dialogue, not to mention its success.

But, this time when Clint was approached with the project, he was not only a major film star, he had his own established production company (Malpaso), and was completing his first film as actor, producer, and director, "Play Misty For Me".

Eastwood has stated that he accepted the studio's sure-fire commercial project when Don Siegel was set to direct, and the film's storyline would be changed to San Francisco. He realized the importance of doing a big-budget action film, to ensure the studio's financial backing for his riskier upcoming personal projects, like "Breezy".

Much like Leone's "Dollars Trilogy", Clint's portrayal of San Francisco's loose-cannon cop,
"Dirty Harry" Callahan,
is credited as initiating a new film genre which is imitated to this day.

In the same manner as the 'Spaghetti Westerns' 'Man With No Name' from the '60s, the iconic character 'Dirty Harry'  became both a fixture in Eastwood's long career, plus a character memorialized throughout cinema worldwide.
Also like 'The Man With No Name' character, 'Harry' starred in a series of actual sequels, as well as incarnations of the character appearing in countless similar films.
For example, Clint appeared as Inspector "Dirty Harry" Callahan in both sequels "Magnum Force" and "The Enforcer",  but played the identical hard-assed cop 'Ben Shockley' in 1977's "The Gauntlet". 

Eastwood had accepted these obvious money-making cop films to appease the Studio, thereby giving him the power to select more 'off beat' (financially risky) scripts to develop.

Against the objections of Warner Bros., as well as the advice of most of his co-workers, Clint proceeded with a comedy, featuring an orangutan, along with partner, Sondra Locke, as his co-stars,
"Every Which Way But Loose
"(1978).
Compounding the film's assembly of strange off-beat characters, Clint starred as the "Aging"  bare-knuckle fighter, 'Philo Beddoe'.
Not only was the movie a success, it was Warner Bros. third highest grossing film for the year, following "The Exorcist" and "Superman". Even though Clint's character introduced 'Aging' as part of his lead role's make-up, the Studio, and fans, demanded a sequel,
"Any Which Way You Can"
  (1980).
Between the two blockbuster "Monkey Movies", Clint squeezed in another "Aging"  hero, in the less successful 1980 family film, "Bronco Billy" . Though cast again in the role of a cowboy, this cowboy was really a former shoe salesman from New Jersey.

 In 1982's "Honkytonk Man", 'Age' again played an integral role in the film's storyline.

"Age" took a backseat to Dirty Harry in 1983, when Clint reluctantly agreed to the studio's request for another Dirty Harry sequel, "Sudden Impact".

Right behind the reprisal of San Francisco's famed Inspector Callahan, came another version of the 'flawed cop', in the film, "Tightrope" (1984).
This time, the film was set in New Orleans, where the tough cop was raising his daughter, while entwined in multiple kinky sexual scenarios, reminiscent of his own fetishes and other unusual sexual preferences. 

"Heartbreak Ridge" (1986) was another script which centered on an 'Aging' character unable to accept the limitations 'Age' imposes.
This time, the macho lead man, Gunnery Sergeant, Thomas Highway (Eastwood) is nearing mandatory retirement from the Marine Corps.

Once again, even though Clint was 58 years old at the time, he surrendered to the overwhelming  pressure, and portrayed Dirty Harry for the fifth, and final, time, in "The Dead Pool" (1988). Though Clint felt foolish attempting to hide, or at least ignore, his 60ish appearance, the film was a huge blockbuster, grossing over $38 million in the US alone, and was the second highest money-maker in the famed franchise's history.
Eastwood has often stated that the Studio still wishes he would resurrect Dirty Harry,
"
in a wheelchair if necessary".
Clint remains adamantly opposed to any "Harry" revival.

Clint's 'Western Anti-Hero', aged gunslinger, retired before our eyes in the 1992 classic Unforgiven.
Dirty Harry,
on the other hand, has never officially experienced the same fate. Therefore, because Cops are popular cinema protagonists, Eastwood has continued to be cast in such roles.
Sometimes comedic (City Heat), often quite unlike 'Harry' (The Rookie-1990), and even secondary to the film's star (left -A Perfect World-1993), it's hard to keep the tough cop out of films.
An excellent example would be the hugely successful "In The Line Of Fire" (1993).
Again, the age of Eastwood's near-retirement Secret Service Agent is basically the theme of the film's script. And, once again, Clint's almost elderly lead character beds the much younger leading lady, played splendidly by the lovely Rene Russo.

Thanks to Eastwood's unique position of control, plus his ability to recognize the themes of a well written script, he's been able to select films which feature a leading man within his own age range.

The most obvious example of this would be his multiple award winning masterpiece, "Unforgiven" (1992). Written by David Webb Peoples in 1976, Eastwood bought the film's screen rights in the early '80s.

He then waited until he was old enough to play psychotic antihero, William Munny, a grizzled veteran gunslinger with a bloody past; a character not unlike the one first immortalized by the younger Eastwood in Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy", and recreated for the following decades, up to the  release of "Pale Rider" (1985).
"Unforgiven"  became an unexpected critical hit, and despite being released in a season of popcorn movies, it would eventually gross over $100 million.
More importantly, it revived Eastwood's standing in Hollywood, after a series of less than popular 80's releases. After receiving multiple critics' awards, it became one of only a handful of westerns to ever win the Best Picture Oscar.
Though Clint lost after he was finally nominated for the Best Actor Award, his status behind the camera was acknowledged with another gold statuette for Best Director.

The film's greatest reward was that Clint Eastwood became firmly established as a true multi-level cinematic artist, a respected film-maker, more than equal to any of the industry's legends.
Armed with this recognition, Clint was now able to compete with Hollywood's most important players, even without starring in his productions, much less reprising his past iconic "Dirty Harry" role.

     - This position could not be validated better than "The Bridges Of Madison County" (1995) -
The 1992 best-selling Robert James Waller novel, "The Bridges of Madison County"  tells a romantic, 1960s tale about a lonely, married, Italian woman, living in Madison County, Iowa, The fictional story tells of the woman's affair with a veteran National Geographic photographer, visiting Madison County to create a photographic essay on the Iowa region's old covered bridges.
The novel was an absolute sensation, and became the topic of discussion for women around the world.
As a result, it stands as one of the bestselling books of the 20th century, selling over 50 million copies.

Steven Spielberg partnered with Eastwood (Amblin Entertainment & Malpaso Productions) acquiring film rights in 1995, for the film's costly production, Kathleen Kennedy was credited as Amblin's producer, and would reprise her role alongside Clint for their later collaboration on "Flags of Our Fathers".
Hollywood's most highly respected actress, Meryl Streep, was cast as Iowa housewife, "Francesca Johnson", while Clint directed, and co-starred as the 'aging' romantic drifter, photographer, "Robert Kincaid".
Eastwood shot the romantic film on location in Madison County, to accurately capture the tranquil beauty of the story's bucolic locale.
{left-Meryl Streep-Eastwood 1995}

With "Absolute Power" (1997), Eastwood continued to address the issue of growing old. Instead of a cop as the aging lead, for this uneven thriller, he portrays a high-level thief, out to commit one last heist before he retires. However, in the process of culminating his final crime, his character, "Luther Whitney", witnesses a murder which involves the President of the United States.
In the same vein as many of his "anti-hero"  protagonists, though breaking the law, his master burglar is an ethical, morally straight criminal, who even oversees the welfare of his grown daughter, using his stealthy skills to remain out of her sight.

Similarly, 1999's "True Crime"  saw Clint in the role of a burnt-out reporter who finds a last shot at redemption when he is convinced that a convicted Death Row inmate. awaiting execution is innocent.
Though the film didn't dwell on the 'age' of Clint's burned-out reporter, "Steve Everett", the issue couldn't be ignored. It jumped out at practically the beginning of the movie, a scene with "Everett" sitting at the bar, drink in hand, flirting with a girl at least 20 years younger than the veteran newsman.
Much like Clint himself, easygoing 'flirting' just comes natural to the man, regardless of his age. However, unlike the sexy banter exchanged between Eastwood and Rene Russo, for "In The Line Of Fire", the scene mentioned from "True Crime"  made me  painfully aware of the "AGE"  difference between the 69 yr. old Eastwood, and his much younger female counterpart.

With "Space Cowboys" (2000), Eastwood produces a film which totally addresses the issues of "aging", the loss of a man's skills, prior abilities, or even lack of faculties. Similar to "In The Line of Fire's"  aging Secret Service agent, "Frank Horrigan", Eastwood's character, "Dr. Frank Corvin", has the chance to return to his past professional achievements, several decades later, to become a 'poster boy' for the entire retirement generation.
The veteran astronaut (Corvin), who helped develop the first allied US, Russian backed satellite, sent into space, forty years earlier, is called out of retirement to repair the old showcase of international cooperation.
To further exploit his argument for veteran abilities, Dr. Corvin demands the involvement of his former veteran crew members, each well 'past their prime'.
The central theme of Eastwood's film, coincides with that of his character, Frank Corvin; who, as the leader of the quartet of retired veterans, utilizes his unique opportunity as a blatant attempt to showcase society's shortcomings in dealing with its growing number of 'aging' members.
Both the antique satellite, and the veteran astronauts, are used to symbolize that, despite technologic  advancements, and physical developments
"THEY DON'T MAKE THEM LIKE THEY USED TO"

In 2002, once again as both the director and star, Eastwood presents the competent, yet somewhat standard, thriller, "Bloodwork", in which Clint portrays another aging detective, this one taunted by a clever serial killer.

For 2003's "Mystic River", an adaptation of Dennis Lehanes crime novel, Eastwood stepped behind the camera, leaving the acting to Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon. The film explores the interwoven history of the three men, and the terrible events from their boyhood that later forces them to make irrevocable choices. Critics considered "Mystic River"  to be one of Eastwood's best pictures since "Unforgiven", a decade before. Members of the Film Academy most have agreed, as the film, this one without Clint Eastwood in the starring role, earned six Oscar nominations. including 'Best Picture'.
Clint's acting choices proved insightful as Sean Penn won his first Best Actor Oscar, along with Tim Robbins' first 'Best Supporting Actor' win. Marcia Gay Hardin had to settle for just being nominated, similar to Clint's "Unforgiven"  best acting award loss, but, also similar to the "Unforgiven" awards experience, Clint Eastwood won his second Oscar for 'Best Director'.

Oscar buzz ignited anew with Clint's follow up,
"Million Dollar Baby
" (2004), This time Clint chose to return to his familiar role as actor.
The film proved another even more effective spotlight on Clint's new
'aging' character. Co-starring Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman, Eastwood played "Frankie Dunn", an old-school boxing trainer afraid of intimacy after suffering a painful rift with his own daughter.
Praised by a majority of critics as an exquisite and subtle film, "Million Dollar Baby" received more than wide critical acclaim. by its earning five Golden Globe nominations. Included in those 5 nominations was one for Clint, Best Director, the trophy which Eastwood would ultimately claim. The powerful film's award recognition would not stop there. One of Clint's finest awards moments came when be beat out sentimental favorite, Martin Scorsese's star-filled Howard Hughes bio-pic,
"The Aviator", at the Directors Guild Awards.

When the Oscar nominations were announced (January 2005),"Million Dollar Baby" walked away with seven, including Best Picture, Best Director and a rare Best Actor nomination for Eastwood, only the second of his long career. Eastwood didn't win the award for acting, but he did take home two Oscars, one as Best Director, and as one of the producers of the film, which won the Best Picture award.

This brings us to Clint's most recent film, "GRAN TORINO",  a 2008 drama directed and produced by Eastwood, who had returned to his role as actor, to star as "Walt Kowalski". Eastwood plays an 'aging' recently widowed Korean War veteran, who's alienated from his family, in fact, he's angry at the world.
The film marked Eastwood's return to a lead acting role after a four year hiatus, his previous leading role having been in 2004's "Million Dollar Baby",

        GRAN TORINO

Eastwood has stated that "Gran Torino"  would be his final film as an actor
Clint has been in the movie business since he first signed a contract with Universal Studios in April, 1954. When he landed the co-lead in the CBS Television western series, "Rawhide",((1959),  his acting career was securely set for life.
During his six years starring in Rawhide, he worked with most of TV's leading directors, and urged the show's producers to give him the opportunity to try.

After winning worldwide acclaim portraying Sergio Leone's "Man With No Name" ,in the hugely successful "Dollars Trilogy" Eastwood  became a genuine 'big time' Hollywood Film Star.
He quickly formed his own film production company, 'Malpaso Productions' in 1968, to maintain control over selection, and production of his own films.  By 1971,  Clint finally had directed his first major film,  "Play Misty For Me",  and has produced,, and directed, over 50 more since that time.  Once Clint was able to get behind the camera, he has often claimed that he prefers that position to acting. Nonetheless, he recognizes the necessity of his presence acting in the film, to guarantee its financial success. On that note:
Gran Torino was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $326 million worldwide

    As I previously pointed out, "Unforgiven"  signaled the demise of Clint's iconic 'cowboy hero'.
This was more than coincidence. As previously stated, Clint held the rights to the film, waiting until he felt old enough to play the role of retired gunslinger, "William Munny".
Obviously, Clint's decision was a wise one, judging by the classic western's overwhelming success, not to mention the multiple awards the film received. Of the film's nine Academy Award nominations, Eastwood's talented group snagged a total of four Oscar victories.

Clint Eastwood has often been dismissed as a "movie star" who's success is due to his charismatic presence (John Wayne, etc.), in lieu of his acting skills. There certainly is some merit to the argument, but, personally, I feel Eastwood's acting talent is shamefully overlooked due to his custom of underplaying the dialogue, instead creating that physical "presence", by using body language, facial expressions, and other subtle, non-vocal methods, in lieu of vocal expression. And then, there's that voice! 
Nature bestowed Clint Eastwood with a voice unlike that of any other man on earth.

Clint's totally unique voice is one recognized throughout the entire world. Thus, it requires an essential skill to be used in any professional impersonator's routine. When done properly (like Jimmy Stewart or John Wayne), there's never any question of who it's supposed to be. Add clenched teeth delivering that voice & you've got Clint!   

Whatever feelings one has concerning Eastwood's acting abilities, they would have to agree that "Unforgiven" offers the finest performance of Clint's long acting career.
"A Fistful of Dollars"  introduced the world to Italian Director Sergio Leone's new western film genre, starring Clint Eastwood as the film's new 'anti-hero', "The Man With No Name" , The low budget, European produced, Western, unexpectedly, became a big hit among the Euro movie fans, even receiving a few raves from film critics.  The film's more than favorably reception resulted in the production of two sequels while producers scrambled to legalize the distribution rights in the United States.

When US rights were cleared in 1967, "The Dollars Trilogy" was complete. All three films starred Eastwood as 'TMWNN' , for which he was also paid to do the overdubbing on each. The release of the 3 "Spaghetti Westerns"  not only introduced the United States to a new genre of western film, with its "anti-hero" star, they also launched Clint Eastwood's meteoric rise to international superstardom, plus respected director, and acclaimed filmmaker.

Twenty-five years after that introduction, Eastwood provides the chance to revisit our famed 'cowboy anti-hero', "Unforgiven" offers a final glimpse into the life of the now "aged"  killer, the one time guiltless gunslinger who won the hearts of western movie fans worldwide. After all, Eastwood’s William Munny could very well be that laconic and mercenary Man With No Name, now aged and mellow, mournfully looking back, finally feeling that awful pain, the horrific loss and human suffering, that resulted from his reckless indifference to human life.
No longer numb to killing, he is now actually suffering, finally aware of the intensity felt from the gaping wounds of his many victims, many praying for their own death, All caused by his cruel, heartless actions.

GRAN TORINO

It is generally agreed that Clint Eastwood's classic western, "Unforgiven"  represented the grand finale for Eastwood's multiple versions of his gunslinger cowboy hero.
Clint later validated that fact by announcing that he was done playing cowboys.
The same can be argued for "Gran Torino".

When Clint's iconic cop character "Dirty Harry"  became more popular than his prior gunslinger,  the same pattern of future releases followed. 
Leone's 2 'Spaghetti Western' sequels followed immediately in the next two years.
But, it was only another two years  before Eastwood duplicated his hero as "Jed Cooper" starring in his first Malpaso Production, "Hang 'Em High", an American version of Sergio Leone's new western film genre.

The same year featured a similar cowboy in the lead; this time,  "Walt Coogan",  a cowboy deputy sheriff, out of his element, but still a stern, western tough-guy, slow speaking lawman, but,  just another form of his gunslinger. Right behind (1970), came another western, "Two Mules For Sister Sarah",  in which Eastwood's cowboy loner, "Hogan", more closely resembled the 'Man With No Name'. He reappeared as the title character in "Joe Kidd", (1972), and "The Stranger" in 1973's "High Plains Drifter"  which more closely replicated his mercenary gunman.  

After the introduction of  "Dirty Harry" in 1971, demand for 'Harry' sequels outweighed the westerns' demand. During the years between sequel # 2, "Magnum Force"(1973), and # 3, "The Enforcer"(1976), Clint managed to produce a few of his 'independents', along with his western 'tour de force', "The Outlaw Josey Wales"  (1976).

"Josey" was a widowed victim of injustices, inflicted during the period of territorial lawlessness,  which followed the social, and legal breaches that resulted from the Civil War. This film's 'anti-hero'. "Josey Wales",  is branded an 'outlaw' after his wife and family are killed, and their home burnt to the ground. 
To add humiliation to his sorrow, and vengeful feelings, he must surrender his weapons, and swear allegiance to the Union, which includes the gang of northern sympathizers guilty of the horrendous acts.
This film clearly establishes our gunslinger's motivation for killing. The mercenary 'Dollars' gunslinger's motivation was 'Money', 'Gold', or whatever, replaced by 'Revenge', or 'Reputation' in many of his following resurrections.
The justification for violence could range from cheating at cards, stealing a horse, disrespect to women, children, the gunslinger himself, or any other social infraction, or humiliation. The idea of this 'anti hero' genre is to find a justifiable motive behind the otherwise heinous behavior of the cowboy hero. With the martyred  gunslinger, Josey Wales, the ambiguity of some prior 'anti-heroes', is not an issue here; Josey's motivation couldn't be more clearly defined throughout the length of this fine film. Once branded an outlaw,  a reward is posted on 'Wales', and 'Josey' encounters gunplay wherever he goes.  In the end, thanks to all the defensive killings, it's the old-time overused 'Reputation'  which continues to dog poor 'Josey',  eventually forcing him to accept his ultimate fate.

 

   Friday, February 26, 2010 01:52 AM

GRAN TORINO