Lots of people really like Clint Eastwood and his movies. I do too, make no mistake. As a small kid I watched him on the Rawhide TV show and rode through the spaghetti westerns on up to the Mule movie. He says that he’d learned to direct and even produce from 60s television.
Okay, but, I especially like the batch of Clint movies that he does not direct or control, which are few. I think Clint is best when working for someone else, when there exists another creative-control-source or two. In the Line of Fire. Dirty Harry. Magnum Force. Good, Bad. Ugly, etc. He, like most if us, needs an outsider’s eye and outside help.
In the films he fully controls, there are chinks in the armor of the plot. They are almost “1960s” chinks. Hard for me to describe and maybe too long for here, but “60s chinks.” And dare I say -“corny 60s.” No one usually cares because its Clint and maybe a film, like American Sniper is such a big event and so good in many other ways, no one cares. And hey, he fully controlled Unforgiven which was essentially flawless.
But chinks? In the movie American Sniper, Kyle goes down to ground level to help the infantry raid houses, “like the SEALs do.” In the scene, Kyle stands before a team, outside a door and gun ready, he raps his helmet a few hits with his fist. Everyone just looks at each, like…”what’s that?” Another Army guy then whispers something like – “that’s how the SEALs tell each other they are ready to go in.” In real life, Kyle actually taught and helped Army infantry, but the movie blows this. In the movie, another Army guy, not Kyle (?) has to explain the helmet rap? If Kyle was actually teaching and helping, he would have taught the rap before a raid, as well as a dozen other things. That Sniper script went through many, many hands and numerous producers and how that silly scene made it into the final cut of movie is just odd to me.
But my most favorite Clint Eastwood film, just above In The Line of Fire, and one he directed, produced and controlled is White Hunter, Black Heart back in the 1980s. It fictionalizes director John Houston and the backstory of the African Queen movie. It’s kind of an “inside baseball” story about Houston and the movie world. It did not do well in the box office, I guess because he wasn’t massively killing bad guys or something? John Houston was a strange eccentric person and Eastwood does a great job capturing a “Houston persona” and the times.