Tag Archives: clint eastwood

BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Every Which Way But Loose (1978)

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I’m still on my Clint Eastwood kick, 3.5 readers.

This time I rented his iconic comedy.  I’d been meaning to see it.  I heard good things and there have been so many references to it in pop culture, especially to Clint’s sassy pet orangutan, Clyde.

Gotta say, I was not impressed.  Seems like blasphemy as I like all the other Clint movies I’ve seen so far, but I didn’t really get the point of this movie, or if it even had one.

Clint stars as Philo Beddoe, a hard living truck driver by day who fights in underground fist fights at night.  One night while at a club with his best buddy Orville (Geoffrey Lewis), Philo meets up and coming country western star Lynn Halsey-Taylor.

The tough guy falls instantly in love and upon learning she’s leaving town, he follows in the hopes of catching up with her again.

The rest is a road trip film gone awry.  While in pursuit of the babe, Philo offends the lamest biker gang ever as well as a pair of bumbling cops.  Both pursue Philo in the hopes of getting revenge and Philo stymies them at every corner.  Meanwhile, Orville’s foul mouthed mother, Ma. fends off more bikers with her profanity and her shotgun.

Clyde is utilized as an ongoing gag, making all kinds of fart jokes, sticking up his middle finger and so on.

I think had I been an adult in 1978 I might have laughed at this, though I’ve seen other films from this time and earlier that will billed as comedies that have made me laugh.  I think this one just falls flat.  The jokes are kind of cheap and though I hate to give the ending away, there isn’t really any kind of conclusion that makes you glad you watched the damn thing.

One thing that gets me is the 1970s were Clint’s prime years and he was in his 40s then.  So much lush hair.  I guess it really pays to work out and eat right and take care of yourself.

A young Beverly D’Angelo joins the gang as Orville’s love interest, Echo.  Think about it.

I get a lot of people like this movie but me, I don’t see it.  And to be honest, I can’t make this accusation for sure, but the whole vibe seems like it was a little too inspired by Smokey and the Bandit – just two hayseeds out trying to have a good time and stick to the squares.

Clint’s longtime girlfriend Sondra Locke was in a lot of Clint movies and she plays his love interest here.  I guess she was considered a hottie in her day and I’m sure she was a nice enough lady but I’m not sure I get her.  I’ve seen her in three Clint movies and she’s always cast as a character who is always pissed off at Clint, yelling at him and cussing him out.  Then again, their relationship did end with 10 years of litigation so maybe this foreshadowed that.  I don’t know.

STATUS – Hate to say it, but not shelf-worthy.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Escape From Alcatraz (1979)

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Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.

I don’t know if this will be much of a review.  Just that I have been on a Clint Eastwood movie kick lately.  He is one of my favorites and I only got to know him as an actor when he was old.  When he was young, he was so cool.  Shame what age does to us, though I suppose in many ways, he has retained his coolness.

“Escape from Alcatraz” is based on the real life escape by Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood) from the legendary prison.  In many ways, it is the same old prison story, though now I wonder if this wasn’t the film that started all the other prison movies.

Clint as Morris gets hassled by a pervert, makes friends, gets upset when one of his pals is wronged and ultimately, figures out an escape plan.  They do forget to elaborate on the evil doings that got him locked up in the first place.  Ironically, the escape plan mirrors the plan that happened in real life and as shown in Showtime’s recent “Escape at Dannemora.”  One wonders if those inmates had seen this film.

Good movie and a running theme in Clint movies is that he is tough and stands up for himself.  He doesn’t start shit but doesn’t accept it when shit is slung at him.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – The Mule (2018)

Go ahead.  Make my day.  But slowly.  Because I’m old.

BQB here with a review of Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule.”  (SPOILERS).

I must admit, 3.5 readers, when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I assumed it would be a ripoff of “Breaking Bad.”  Similar to Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, Clint’s Earl Stone is presented in the preview as an old man who has lived a shitty life and now, with little to lose in his declining years, decides to say, “Fuck it” and get into the drug game to make some fast, sweet, sticky cash, all the danger be damned.

Despite the similarities, Earl is his own man.  He’s super old and though he has no diagnosed terminal illness, he’s in his nineties and therefore likely to croak if a cool breeze hits him the wrong way.  He’s no mastermind genius like Walter.  He’s just an old man who lost his job and finds another one.

Though I’m one of Clint’s biggest fans, I have to admit the premise is thinner than his present day hair and it saddens me as with some tweaks to the haphazard plot, it could have been as lush as his 1970s “Dirty Harry” mane.

Honestly, the first twenty minutes of the film feel less like an Eastwood movie of old and instead, more like a glorified Lifetime Channel for Women movie, you know, the one that your Grandma watches to feel hip and young without having to be bogged down with anything that makes sense.

Earl is a horticulturalist.  For many years, he chose the road over his own family, missing birthdays, graduations, weddings, funerals, anniversaries and so on to drive across America in his old, beaten up pick-up truck just so he could put his latest rare flower on display and socialize with his fellow green thumbs.

I know.  WTF, right?  Not to give away a spoiler, but in the first few minutes, Earl, already having been divorced from wife, Mary (Dianne West), is finally ostracized from the family for good when he chooses yet another flower show over the wedding of his daughter, Iris (played by Clint’s real life daughter, Alison.)

SPOILER ALERT (in fact, spoilers abound in this review so look away): As I watched Clint at the flower show, buying drinks for his flower growing friends, a sad look on his face like he knew he was doing wrong for picking horticulture over his child, I called bullshit. Just absolute bullshit.

But then I thought about it.  The man needs a reason why he was estranged from his family.  And I suppose if he’d been a workaholic stockbroker or a lawyer or businessman, that would have been already done before, not to mention, he’d have no need to do illegal deeds for money.

FYI that’s how he becomes a mule.  Oddly enough, though his granddaughter, Ginny (Taissa Farmiga, sister of Vera) throws a pre-wedding party.  Clint attends, is kicked out by mom and grandma.  Though granddaughter still loves him and shows no signs other than that she is a solid, upstanding young woman, for some reason that can only be describes as bad writing, there’s a shady drug cartel associate in the wedding party who sees Earl is down on his luck after his flower farm is foreclosed on and introduces him into the world of mulery.

At this point, I start to get it.  You have to bend over backwards to get it.  The movie’s writing style starts out as “tell, don’t show” with characters dumping key plot points in dialogue and eventually moves to “Stand on your head and twist around three times to get it.”

You see, it was never about the flower shows.  Earl just sucked as a human.  He was selfish.  No, he wasn’t out cheating on his wife or anything like that.  He was just stuck in his own head.  He loved driving in his truck.  He loved meeting and talking to people.  He loved going to parties and having fun and being the center of attention in his little flower world.  He lacked the emotional capacity to handle it when life got real, to not be around a wife and kid with needs and feelings.  He regrets not being a good dad and husband, but lacked the fortitude to be one.

Muling is his second chance to renew that cross-country traveling lifestyle.  He meets “the boys” i.e. oddly kind and chatty drug cartel chop shop operators who joke around and talk Earl’s ear off as they stuff his new and improved truck (a Lincoln that is the real star of the movie) full of cocaine.  He then drives off into adventure, stopping at roadside stops to meet new, interesting folks, often risking blowing the whole operation just for the chance to make a new friend.

Alas, the job starts to suck when the stakes get higher and higher.  You ever have a job that started out great and then one day, you get a new boss and you’re told you’re being watched and the slightest fuck-up will be punished with extreme prejudice?  Yes, another spoiler but suffice to say, eventually being a mule stops being fun when oddly kind drug cartel boss Andy Garcia is taken out in a coup and replaced by hardasses who have no patience for Earl’s desire to stop along his route to help strangers with flat tires or to find the world’s best pulled pork sandwich.

SJWs and the politically incorrect alike will find reasons to cheer, maybe even come together.  Earl openly tells off-color jokes and uses centuries old slurs in routine conversation.  You’re torn between being grossed out and wondering if maybe an old man who doesn’t know any better really needs to kicked completely out of society if he truly didn’t mean any harm and didn’t understand how times have changed.

Meanwhile, Earl takes full advantage of his elderly white privilege, moving mass quantities of Columbian nose candy to and fro with reckless abandon, sent merrily on his way by unsuspecting cops who simply assume they’re in the presence of a doddering old fart while the aforementioned cops then immediately turn around and run Earl’s younger Hispanic associates up the river if they so much as make a funny look.

Bradley Cooper and Lawrence Fishburne round out a star studded cast, but honestly, I can’t say it enough.  The writing blows goats and really, the only reason to stick through it is to watch an old man down on his luck suddenly fall into a world where he can make mad cash, bang hot hookers, and not give a shit about jail or STDs because fuck it, he’s 90.  Not gonna lie.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Clint just slapped this flick together just so he could charge off scenes with hot young babes on the studio’s dime.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy, only because it’s Clint.  At times, you see a little glint in Clint’s eye, such that you can just tell if it weren’t for his tired old body, the Clintster would be tearing shit up in this strange new world.  It makes some valid points.  A running joke is that Earl has to constantly fix broken things because all the young people are too busy getting on their smart phones, looking up how to fix the broken things instead of just trying to actually do it.  Point taken.  People used to get out and live life.  Now we’re living life through a screen.  The writing is epically lame.  Plot holes the size of Earl’s truck that you’d never put up with.  If you can suspend disbelief long enough, it’s nice to see Clint have fun.

 

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Movie Review – Magnum Force (1973)

A man’s got to know his limitations, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of “Magnum Force.”

I promised a review of all five “Dirty Harry” movies and slowly but surely, I’ll get there.

The key to making a good sequel to a popular movie is to keep the essence of what made the first flick so awesome but at the same time, being willing to branch out just far enough to make the film stand on its own.  That’s done here and serial writers would be well-advised to pay attention.

While Dirty Harry’s catchphrase in the first film was, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” here, it’s “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Early in the film, Harry says this to one of the many bosses who spend all day polishing their brass but still want to chew Callahan out over why he can’t be kinder and gentler to the never-ending onslaught of scumbags who are trying to shoot him.  It’s meant as an insult but as the movie progresses, I began to wonder if it isn’t eventually turned into Harry’s mantra.

You see, in the ultimate twist of irony, Harry, who has long groused about the flaws in the system that allow criminals to go free, is pitted against…dun dun dun…a group of young, rookie motorcycle cops who have formed an execution squad, carrying out hits on bad guys who skirt the system time and time again.

Though Harry is often accused of going beyond the law himself, we, the viewers, know the truth.  Harry doesn’t go above the law…he just enforces the law, and he never backs down from a fight.  When other cops call it a day, Harry runs headfirst into danger, his .44 Magnum blazing, and gets the job done.

But as much as he gripes about how the system lets crooks walk, he, to use his catchphrase, “knows his limitations.”  He knows he is limited by the law and if he breaks it in the name of catching a crook, then he’s no worse than the bad guys he locks up.

Still, the setup is gut wrenching – Harry, the badass cop who bleeds blue, forced to do the unthinkable – to take on his fellow officers as though (shudder) he’s some kind of dirty, bleeding heart hippy.  Truly, Callahan’s worst nightmare.

As usual, there are a number of interludes where Harry is just out and about town, enjoying a bite to eat or doing some work when shit happens.  During the 1970s, airplanes were hijacked by terrorists pretty regularly, so I imagined crowds of that era cheered as Harry dons a pilot uniform to sneak onboard a pilfered plane only to feed the bad guys a taste of .44 caliber justice.  Today, movie goers would want to give the terrorists a cash settlement and put Harry in sensitivity training.

Further, the shootout in a department store is one of the best action scenes in the entire series, so you’ll want to check that out.

Moral quandaries abound as the film takes you into the lives of those baddies being offed by the motorcycle squad, from mobsters who start their own wars to a pimp who forces a can of drain cleaner down the throat of a prostitute who comes up a few bucks short.  On occasion, you might, sadly, find yourself rooting for the motorcycle cops but then you remember that while the system is flawed, the same system that occasionally lets bad guys go also keeps people from being like, “Hey, I don’t like so and so’s face so I’m going to say he’s a criminal for no reason and take it upon myself to blow him away.”  Vigilantism is never the way, no matter what Batman tells you.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Overall, it’s a rare sequel that’s as good as the first.  Harsh as it may sound, we all need to know our limitations.  That’s the hardest part of life, isn’t it?  In theory, Harry would probably like to dispense his own brand of Magnum justice to the wicked, but he knows he’s limited by the law and as much as he complains about it, he knows he’s limited by it, so he won’t step over that line, though he occasionally wiggles his foot over it from time to time throughout the series.  Here, the crooked cops didn’t know their limits and thus, must face Callahan’s wrath.

“Know your limitations” is good advice for life, as much as we hate to hear it.  Don’t wait around for the perfect job, when a subpar gig will put money in your bank account.  Don’t wait around for the perfect lover when an imperfect person is willing to spend time with you.  If you never settle for less than perfection, you’ll never experience much in this very imperfect world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review – Dirty Harry (1971)

I know what you’re thinking, 3.5 punks.  You’re thinking, did he fire off six posts, or only five?  Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I lost track myself.  But seeing as how this is a .44 blog that’s only read by 3.5 people and could bore your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself, do you feel lucky, 3.5 punks?

Well, do ya?

BQB here with a review of the movie that started it all  – “Dirty Harry.”

You’ve had since the early 1970s to watch this but just an FYI – SPOILERS ensue.

Poor Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood).  To the uninitiated, i.e. those newbies who’ve never watched one of his flicks, it’s easy to assume his nickname means he’s a “Dirty” cop.

Nope.  He’s just the guy on the San Francisco police department who gets called on to do all the “dirty jobs” no one else wants to do.

Some crook has a gun pointed to a hostage’s head?  Call Harry.  Some psycho is threatening to jump off a building?  Call Harry.  There’s a bank robbery in progress?  Hey, Harry, take care of that, will you?  We’ll all be hiding over here and we’ll give you a critique of your performance when you’re done.

Yes, it’s not easy being the cop everyone depends on.  It’s a thankless job, to say the least.  No cop wants to be the one who makes the split second decision about whether to shoot a bad guy and put a hostage at risk or let the bad guy walk, taking the hostage along to possibly kill later.

No cop wants to be the one who walks into a bank robbery in progress and take down a gang of baddies using nothing but his wits and his sidearm, a fat ass .44 Magnum hand cannon in Harry’s case.

But Harry does this bullshit all the time and does he ever get thanked for it?  Nope.  Instead, he’s constantly harassed and berated (throughout the entire series) by a never-ending supply of police brass, supervisors, bureaucrats and politicians who have never even fired a gun but are completely happy to bitch Harry out for property damage, ensuing lawsuits, alleged civil rights violations and so on.

There’s the rub.  These dummies want the crooks caught, but they’re so clueless they think that the bad guys can be taken down easily, that Harry is somehow just an evil, trigger happy caveman who thirsts for blood and guts and a nicer cop could somehow talk the bad guys into having tea and crumpets.

You, the viewer, learn better.  You’re follow Harry along throughout the course of his days, watching as he works the serial killer case, with occasional interruptions from villains along the way.  Poor Harry.  Throughout the series, the dude rarely enjoys a meal without the joint he’s eating in getting robbed, requiring him to break out his massive revolver while he’s still chewing on his meal.  The dirty job doer’s work is never done.

In this first film, there’s the iconic scene where Harry, after dispatching a group of bank robbers, stares down one last crook.  The crook stares at a shotgun lying on the sidewalk, just inches from his grasp.  Will he reach for it?  Harry gives the infamous speech about whether he fired off five shots or six and the robber decides to let the shotgun go – better safe than sorry.

In today’s politically correct world, is it problematic for a white cop to be gunning down a gang of black bank robbers?  Yes.  Not arguing that.  If the movie is ever remade (which would be like remaking the Mona Lisa), you’d never a more diverse gang, probably an all white gang.

But here’s the thing.  I can understand if you view this movie on a surface level and say, “Oh God, I hate this.  It’s all about a white cop who gets off on shooting black people and it’s giving a bad message that black people are criminals.”

My only request is to look at the film deeper.  Harry, with his sneer and his badass hair and stylish sport coat and sunglasses, yes Harry, the civil rights’ lawyer’s worst nightmare, is, in many ways, an old school social justice warrior.

I know, it sounds crazy, but stay with me.  Yes, the bank robber is black…but, Harry doesn’t see that.  Or he sees it but doesn’t care.  Harry doesn’t see a black guy.  He sees a bad guy.  There’s a war for the streets of San Francisco and everyday, Harry is on the front lines.  The actions he takes protect people of all races and colors, creeds and religions.  There’s law abiding citizens and there’s criminals and if you’re the latter, Harry will take you down.

To drive this point home, consider that later in the film, the serial killer murders a young African-American boy, only ten years old.  In a film where this epically stoic character who is all grit and macho manliness, this is the one moment where he looks broken up.  He’s failed two law abiding citizens, the boy and his mother, and it’s clear from the look on his face that he’s going make this murderer pay.

At the end of the film, Harry squares off against the white, looney tunes serial killer.  The killer is taken down in a similar fashion to the black bank robber at the start of the film.  The killer is on the ground and a gun is within his reach.  Harry recites the “Do you feel lucky punk?” speech again.  He’ll give the white serial killer the same chance he gave the black bank robber – give up the gun and go to jail, or reach for it and maybe get your head blown off, maybe not, depending on how many bullets are left in the old hand cannon.

Compare the looks that Harry gives to the black bank robber and the white serial killer.  Harry laughs when the bank robber gives up.  It’s almost like he and the robber played a game of chess.  The robber was out to get some quick cash and now he’s been subdued so Harry could give a shit now.

But look at the look Harry gives the white killer.  The white killer’s actions have been way worse.  He’s killed innocents throughout the film, even a young boy.  Harry will do the right thing if the killer gives up, but the look on his face tells us he really, really, really hopes the killer will make a move so he can be blown away.

That’s my take on it, anyway.  There’s a universal standard of right and wrong and Harry doesn’t carry who you are, what you look like, or what color your skin is.  If you’re breaking the law, beware the .44.

Civil rights abuses and police brutality were hot topics of the 1970s just as they are today.  Harry is constantly reamed out by police brass and attorneys who, almost in a quasi-parody way, care more about the rights of the accused than the victims.

The irony is that, at least in this film anyway, and correct me if I’m wrong, but Harry only walks right up to the line of a civil rights abuse, but doesn’t really dive in feet first as he’s often accused of doing.  There’s a fourteen year old girl who’s been buried alive and her air is running out.  Realizing there’s no time for the suspect to consult his requested lawyer, Harry steps on the killer’s open leg wound and demands to know where the girl is.  Abusive?  Yes.  Against the law?  Sure.  Understandable?  Hell yes, especially if you’re the girl or her family.

Perhaps a cop’s life isn’t filled with as much cartoonish violence but even so, cops are forced to make split second decisions all the time.  Sometimes they’re right.  Sometimes they’re wrong.  The desk chair warmers love to chew Harry out and demand that he take down bad guys in a nicer, gentler manner, and constantly to take Harry’s badge, career and livelihood.

But you, the viewer, and Harry, share a secret.  You both know that Harry being off the force would be the brass’ worst nightmare, because then no one would be around to do all the dirty jobs that no one else wants to do.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Watch immediately.  I’m not gay or nothing but I wish I could have 1970’s Clint’s hair, figure and sunglasses.  I’d get non-stop beaver for sure.  Are we still allowed to call it beaver?  Someone call my lawyer.

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What Can the Dirty Harry Movie Series Teach Us About Today’s Political Issues?

Go ahead, 3.5 readers.  Make my day.

So, I haven’t even seen the new Bruce Willis remake of “Death Wish” yet but I have become obsessed with 1970s films in which a hand canon wielding tough guy guns down assorted crooks, delinquents, reprobates and bad guys with reckless abandon.

After watching the original “Death Wish” with Charles Bronson, I turned my attention to the Dirty Harry series with Clint Eastwood and marveled at the awesomeness of these movies.

So, throughout, well, this week, maybe this month, I don’t know how long, I’ll be posting a review of each Dirty Harry film and/or a discussion of the main political issue it raises.

Every new generation always thinks they are the first to think about an issue but as we see in these movies, people have long been thinking about everything from police brutality, civil rights and women in the workforce.

On the surface to the uninitiated, to someone who has sort of heard of these movies, maybe saw a clip, but never really studied them, does Dirty Harry come off as a cro magnon, macho chauvinist pig who wields a massive revolver as an extension of his penis as he scoffs at women’s abilities, executes minorities and basically serves as porn for suburban honky males who daydream that one day they’ll get to use their unnecessary gun collection on a criminal?

Well…I mean, yeah, if you haven’t really watched these films then ok, I can see why you might think that.

However, take my hand, 3.5 readers, for over the course of this series of posts, I’ll explain to you how (sit down for this) Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan was (I know you’re skeptical) one of the great civil rights advocates/champion for all the downtrodden and abused people of all races of his time.

I know.  It’s going to take some convincing but I’ll try my best to make the case.

 

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