Not having the sword nor the courage
to possess one, when I hear or read something that annoys me, I take up
the pen. (Thankfully, most of us do). If you don't like rants you might
want to pass on this , or if you like movie critiques, you may not.
I recently became annoyed when a columnist rated the western movies of
Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone as "the greatest westerns of them all."
What utter nonsense! Passable entertainment, but great they are not. John
Wayne's THE SEARCHERS and the Joel McCrea-Randolph Scott opus RIDE THE
HIGH COUNTRY are light years ahead of them. (To mention just a couple).
First, there is the sound-track (all that orchestral grunting: ooh! ahh!
Oink)! The Italian landscape looks authentic (a desert is a desert
anywhere). But the "acting!" Too deadpan, like a Keystone Cops western.
Were Eastwood and Leone graduates of the "method" school? They make Brando
and Steiger appear over-animated. Eastwood adopted his personal of
nonchalant killing, minimal vocabulary, cigar-chomping and stony-eyed
staring ( not nearly as unsettling as that of Charles Bronson). The
spaghetti westerns influenced his made-in-America westerns HANG EM HIGH
and THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES. Both of which I think were superior to the
Italians. The latter was his best. For one thing, it revealed a side of
the Civil War not usually seen from Hollywood. The murderous duplicity of
Lincoln's butchers. Of course it had its share of political correctness.
The too-easy conversion of the vengeful Indian into the silly stereotype
of the "noble savage," the too-easy massacre by one good guy of a whole
crowd of bad guys, (and with a gun and no karate). And the too-easily
predicted ending. But Josey is my favorite Eastwood movie. Though
critically-acclaimed, I detested the THE UNFORGIVEN. A psychopathic killer
comes out of retirement after the death of his wife who had gentled him,
in order to get a reward put on the heads of some drunken cowboys who had
beat up on some prostitutes and I guess had besmirched their honor. The
psychopathic sheriff portrayed by Gene Hackman (who played a psychopathic
president in another Eastwood movie) refused to do anything about it
except tut-tutting the cowboys. Most characters in this movie are
psychopathic, except the amiable black gunfighter Morgan Freeman, a
friend's Indian wife and of course the prostitutes with a heart of gold
(and real gold to ante up the bounty). Eastwood turns in his usual
monosyllabic, expressionless (sometimes almost coy) performance and in the
end returns to his home on the hog farm. I bet he is happiest at
I am disappointed with the latter day Clint Eastwood. His movies aren't
made for the average "flyover country" fan. They are made for the
tofu-latte Academy Award judges. What average fan cares about gay
murderers, largely non-existent female boxers and curmudgeons who become
the defenders of poor, put-on (probably illegal) immigrants. I understand
his next film will be a tribute to Nelson Mandala who presided over the
destruction of the once advanced nation of South Africa (with help of
American and European liberal politicians). Eastwood has traded his
integrity for a few tinselly trophies.