1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Herman King 09

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 hog-killing time.

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.