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Eastwood

[ 125 ] August 30, 2012 |

I always thought Clint Eastwood was the genial, George H.W. Bush type of Republican voter. Didn’t care much about the social issue stuff, didn’t much care to pay taxes, bought into his own character, whatever.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he’s actually the type of Republican who buys into the first half of Gran Torino.

Yet another good reason not to watch a single second of either convention.

And just to be snarky, it’s as good as time as any to note that Eastwood is vastly overrated as a director.

As for Romney, he probably wishes he was an Eastwood character, but he’s really just Mr. Morton, the old railroad tycoon from Once Upon a Time in the West.

Comments (125)

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  1. John says:

    What’s great about this is that the Republicans are the ones always ranting about how liberal Hollywood supposedly is, and they’re also the ones who basically give ridiculous amounts of attention to any Republican celebrity they could find.

    The Democrats don’t give prime time speaking slots at their convention to George Clooney.

    • Warren Terra says:

      They did give one to Tommy Lee Jones in 2004 – but then, he was Al Gore’s college roommate.

      • STH says:

        It’s been the Token Convention so far. Look, we really have a Hispanic person in our party! Look, we have a black person, too! And some women! So the token celebrity fits right in there.

    • Clark says:

      GOP’ers are obsessed with their lack of celebrity support and thrilled when the get one.

      • Lee says:

        Openly and proudly conservatives celebrities drowned in the ocean that his liberal Hollywood has been a staple of the mental diet of rightists since the 1930s. Clarke Cable and Tyrone Powers are older examples. So was Cary Grant but he never openly advocated any particular policy.

    • rea says:

      Republicans are the ones always ranting about how liberal Hollywood supposedly is, and they’re also the ones who basically give ridiculous amounts of attention to any Republican celebrity they could find.

      Ronald Reagan

      Sonny Bono

      Fred Grandy

      George Murphy

      Arnold Schwarzenegger

      Shirley Temple

      Hell, P. T. Barnum

  2. anniecat45 says:

    “The Democrats don’t give prime time speaking slots at their convention to George Clooney.”

    Maybe they should — and add Robert Redford for good measure.

  3. Tom says:

    And just to be snarky, it’s as good as time as any to note that Eastwood is vastly overrated as a director.

    This is true, though his best films (like Unforgiven) are basically about vindictive assholes who know that their time has passed and that they’ve lived morally suspect lives, but then go on living that way anyway.

    So, in other words, Clint Eastwood makes movies about Republicans. He just happens to be somewhat self-aware, is all.

    • Robert Farley says:

      Looking forward to the Japanese version with Ken Watanabe…

    • david mizner says:

      Morally suspect indeed. The Dirty Harry films (Yes, I realize he didn’t direct) were reactionary and racist and did much damage to out country, Hollywood’s support for “tough-on-crime” policies.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        Regarding those films–it should be said that while Dirty Harry was by far the most influential character coming out of that genre, that was a hugely popular genre of film in the 1970s and shouldn’t just be pinned on Eastwood or Don Siegel or whoever. I mean, it got a lot uglier than that. Cruising? Shudder. Hardcore? Death Wish? These are all ugly movies. And then of course classics like McQ.

      • Tom says:

        No argument from me there. Dirty Harry is, to put it charitably, problematic. But that’s what makes Unforgiven interesting. The whole film is basically Eastwood trying to come to terms with those cold, tough, violent characters he played for so many years. I never have any sympathy for Will Munny at the end of that movie, but I also can’t be sure how Eastwood feels about him. I think, despite it all, he kind of likes the guy, even if he is damned. It’s an ethically confused film, which is appropriate since the Western is an ethically confused genre.

        Of course, the best Western ever is McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

        • david mizner says:

          I think you’re onto something: trying to comes to terms with but also letting off them off the hook.

          There also seemed to be an attempt at atonement, perhaps sincere, in A Perfect World, which I thought was a pretty good film. Eastwood plays a cop who ends up killing, although he’d prefer not to, a sympathetic criminal.

        • Peter Hovde says:

          “You see, Mr. Beauchamp, in most Western movie towns the violence of the gunslingers, or at least some of them, can be provisionally and tentatively harnessed to some project of order and justice. But not in the town of Big Whiskey!”

        • Bill Murray says:

          The best western ever is The Apple Dumpling Gang.

          and the best Best Western ever is the one in John Scalzi’s Red Shirts

      • Andrew R. says:

        Thing is, Dirty Harry isn’t exactly Dirty Harry, if that makes sense. After all, Eastwood’s Harry Callahan is a good cop, but he’s also kind of a creep–nobody seems to remember the whole sub-plot that he’s a peeping tom–and then, the very next Dirty Harry movie, Magnum Force, is actually a repudiation of vigilantism and an affirmation of the rule of law.

  4. GFW says:

    Mr. Morton, nah. He’s Headly Lamarr from Blazing Saddles.

  5. Maybe I’m wrong.

    That genial HW kind of Republican has been relying on the votes of kooks for quite a while now, so I don’t see why you have to be wrong.

    • McGravitas nails it. Decent, moderate Republicans have been putting up with the paranoid kooks who rile up the voters for ages; don’t see why Eastwood (who was the Republican mayor of Carmel, after all) should be immune.

      An adequate director, especially when he was good material and actors to work with (Gene Hackman was robbed in Unforgiven), and a tremendous, limited, highly effective genre actor. He never got better than The Outlaw Josey Wales, but that film would have been a high point for anyone.

  6. david mizner says:

    Someone should tell the idiot that the Ryan-Romney ticket isn’t moderate or socially libertarian.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/13/us-clinteastwood-idUSTRE78C7XZ20110913

    “I was an Eisenhower Republican when I started out at 21, because he promised to get us out of the Korean War,” Eastwood tells the magazine. “And over the years, I realized there was a Republican philosophy that I liked. And then they lost it. And libertarians had more of it. Because what I really believe is, let’s spend a little more time leaving everybody alone.”

    • Cody says:

      Hah.

      I imagine most Republicans think the Romney/Ryan ticket supports their particular philosophy.

      You just have to listen to the right Romney clips. Maybe they have time allotments on Fox? “From 4-6 Libertarians should tune in, from 6-8 evangelicals should tune in!”

      Romney clips for every audience.

      • Manta says:

        To be fair, quite a few liberals thought that Obama supported their philosophy.

        • To be fair, he does support the philosophy of the vast majority of this country’s liberals.

          • Manta says:

            Not prosecuting self-admitted torturers is in the philosophy of the vast majority of this country’s liberals?

            Or maybe it’s showering banks with public money, without requiring in exchange a suitable amount of shares?

            Introducing the (quite unpopular) mandate for health care, but not a public single payer?

            Punishing whistle-blowers instead of the government malefactors they exposed?

            Wait, let me try again: it’s refusing to prosecute the wall street crimes, right?

            • Like it or not, the vast majority of this country’s liberals support Obama and approve of the job he’s doing.

              Maybe you should stop calling yourself a liberal, since you seem to disagree with the rest of us.

            • Scroll down for Obama’s job approval among liberals.

              They don’t seem to have an entry for poorly-informed internet poseurs.

              • Sherm says:

                Joe — If Jay Carney steps down after the re-election (knock of wood), you have got to submit your resume.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Joe would be pretty good at telling all those unemployed 20-somethings to sit in their childhood bedrooms and stare at the yellowing Obama posters while their economic prospects get worse and worse…that was such a great line from Ryan, but that’s exactly what Joe does.

                • Sherm says:

                  In many ways it was a compliment. Practically every one of my friends bitches about Obama being a moderate, and you occasionally convince me otherwise.

                • Your comment is interesting in one sense, though: it highlights nicely the difference between the argumentation of the (order of magnitude larger) body of pro-Obama liberals, and the teeny, tiny little fringe you represent.

                  You never, ever see any of the massive body of people on my side of the fence write disparage an anti-Obama argument merely on the grounds that it is an anti-Obama comment.

                  Whereas people like you pretty much make “You must be wrong because your comment is pro-Obama” your central talking point.

                  It’s just not a fair fight; that’s probably why the numbers are so grossly imbalanced.

                • Sherm says:

                  Joe would be pretty good at telling all those unemployed 20-somethings to sit in their childhood bedrooms and stare at the yellowing Obama posters while their economic prospects get worse and worse…

                  No. Joe would be pretty good at explaining why its not Obama’s fault, and he would be correct.

                • Practically every one of my friends bitches about Obama being a moderate

                  Fascinating, Mr. Kael.

                • Sherm says:

                  Whereas people like you pretty much make “You must be wrong because your comment is pro-Obama” your central talking point.

                  Joe, was this addressed to me? If so, you are mistaken.

                • Honestly, Sherm, at this point, I’ve lost track.

                • Hogan says:

                  Joe, was this addressed to me?

                  For what it’s worth, I didn’t think it was.

              • Bill Murray says:

                how about people that think they are liberal but are only so by the standards used by Republicans? Do they have that category?

                • Bill Murray says:
                  August 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm
                  how about people that think….

                  How about people who make up excuses about why their politics aren’t a miserable failure among the people they’re trying to convince?

                • Anonymous says:

                  How about people who make up excuses about why their politics aren’t a miserable failure among the people they’re trying to convince?

                  Sounds like you just give a great description of the Obama Administration and its apologists.

                • The Obama administration’s politics have made him the prohibitive favorite to win the presidential election.

                  You should visit the real world on occasion, Jennie. It’s nice here.

                • Anonymous says:

                  The Obama administration’s politics have made him the prohibitive favorite to win the presidential election.

                  LMAO!

                  Still drinking the Hope & Change flavored Kool-Aid, I see.

                  Obama is in deep, deep trouble, and Romney is surging in the polls.

                • I used to argue about how the election was going back in 2008 with a guy with the handle “TallDave” who sounded just like you, Jennie.

                  Obama was doomed then, too. I seem to recall that he was quite convinced that Democrats were panicking over Sarah Palin. Good times, good times.

                • Anonymous says:

                  And McCain/Palin were surging into the lead until Lehman Bros. and the bailout which caused a lot of Republicans to stay home in disgust.

                • And McCain/Palin were surging into the lead until Lehman Bros.

                  It’s called a convention bump. Every presidential candidate has one. When the only time your candidate is leading is during and immediately after the convention, that’s not a good sign.

                  which caused a lot of Republicans to stay home in disgust.

                  Well, it’s a good thing for the Republicans that they nominated Mitt “The Base Machine” Romney this time. I hear turnout will be severely high this time.

              • Anon,

                18-29 year olds give Obama his highest approval ratings of any age group.

                But I’m sure you understand their lives and interests better than they do.

  7. Sherm says:

    What are the chances his speech refers to it being “Halftime in America?”

  8. MikeJake says:

    More and more, I’m coming around to the realization that the Baby Boomers get more criticism than they deserve (not too much more, but a little), while the Silent Generation gets way less than they deserve. I think main difference between them is that the Silents tended to have tougher childhoods than the Boomers, though both had much easier adulthoods than they perceive. It’s just that Silents maybe never expected to be successful when they were children, so when they “made it” as adults, they were more apt to attribute it to their gumption and values rather than their good fortune in living during America’s golden age.

  9. Steve S. says:

    “it’s as good as time as any to note that Eastwood is vastly overrated as a director.”

    I’m glad somebody said this. And not just his directing, of course, but his alleged acting.

    I remember back in the 80s when Eastwood started a long streak of Ok-but-not-great films I read critics rave about the greatness of these mediocrities and wondering what in the world they were seeing that I wasn’t. All I could think of was that they had grown so used to seeing him in stultifying and embarrassingly acted action and comedy movies that they went overboard the other direction when he stepped it up a notch.

    • Keaaukane says:

      Don’t denigrate the whole Clint-with-Orangutang genre.

    • Leeds man says:

      And not just his directing, of course, but his alleged acting.

      Seen years ago in The Guardian;

      Clint Eastwood playing Tristan would be a case of aggravated Yseult.

    • Increase Mather says:

      I’m glad somebody said this. And not just his directing, of course, but his alleged acting.

      There’s a reason why Once Upon a Time in the West is Sergio Leone’s best film. Yeah, Charles Bronson made revenge films too, but at least he had a great face.

      Leone wanted Eastwood to play one of the villains in the beginning. I defy anyone to tell me those scenes would have been better with Clint.

    • actor212 says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone credible say that Clint Eastwood could act well.

      Can you cite, please? Because apart from rare glimpses of talent, Eastwood is about as good an actor as the scenery, particularly on set.

      Altho he was funny in Paint Your Wagon.

      • mark f says:

        He has been nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award a few times.

        • Tangentially…

          BURT REYNOLDS: I truthfully didn’t think I was good long after I was working.

          LARRY KING: Really? You mean in those years you were making it you didn’t…

          REYNOLDS: No, not in those, but in the earlier — because I went under contract to Universal in 1958 and was fired in 1959.

          KING: With Clint Eastwood.

          REYNOLDS: Well, Eastwood was — I always tell the story that we were fired the same day, but we weren’t. We were fired the same year. And he was fired because his Adam’s apple stuck out too far. He talked too slow. And he had a chipped tooth and he wouldn’t get it fixed. And I said, “Why are you firing me?” And they said, “You can’t act.” And I thought…

          KING: Was that a blow, Burt?

          REYNOLDS: No. I said — no, I said to Clint, you know, you are really screwed, because I can learn how to act. You can’t get rid of that Adam’s apple.

      • bobbyp says:

        and clean shaven….

  10. wengler says:

    And with Clint Eastwood, Romney sewed up the old rich white guy vote.

  11. mark f says:

    Maybe he’s actually the type of Republican who buys into the first half of Gran Torino.

    Right, because Glenn Reynolds totally doesn’t imagine himself dying in a heroic gun battle with cartoonish minorities. He just has to pretend that Re-Animator is the sequel.

  12. Ed says:

    I have no use for Eastwood politically and he’s far from my favorite director, but he’s leagues ahead of most other actors-turned-director (which may seem like damning with faint praise, but he really is good) and has often used his clout to choose dark and difficult subjects that were risky projects to undertake. He’s probably received more than his fair share of attention at the Oscars and he may be somewhat overrated here and there, but that doesn’t negate the overall high quality of his work as a filmmaker. He deserves a lot of the praise, and it give me no great pleasure to say so.

  13. SatanicPanic says:

    I don’t care, I still like him. And Robert Downey Jr. Mel Gibson I never liked and was very happy to learn that he’s a Republican.

    • avoidswork says:

      Respectfully, let’s never link RDJr and MG in the same breath. One was a druggie, possibly a douche, but has evolved past that phase.

      The other is an abusive, anti-semitic *sshole with zero plans to change that trajectory.

      • Halloween Jack says:

        RDJ has stuck up for Gibson recently, although he made it clear that it was mostly returning an old favor that Gibson did for him back in the day (specifically, paying RDJ’s insurance for Air America so that he could do the film). Gibson seems to inspire that sort of loyalty in people, as Jodie Foster (not the sort of person you’d expect to stick up for him, as she’s Hollywood’s most prominent female closet case) has done the same.

        • SatanicPanic says:

          I thought Mel helped him get sober so they were buddies or something. I was just trying to think of prominent Hollywood conservatives I have strong feel towards.

  14. david mizner says:

    I was disturbed to learn recently that David Foster Wallace voted for Reagan. I assume, and hope, it was in 1980, when he was 18, and not 1984.

  15. mattc says:

    Every film Clint Eastwood directs looks like it was shot inside of a coffin.

  16. mark f says:

    Nutpicking at Power Line comments (a thread begun when it was still a mystery, but continuing after Clint became known:

    Perhaps it will be the TURNCOAT Colin Powell.

    Clinton would have to consider the impact to his wife’s career. He might do it, to show that he was was “moderate”

    Hoping for Bibi Netanyahu or David Mamet.

    I would love to see Kelsey Grammer be the speaker. He presently plays the Chicago Mayor in the Starz show, The Boss.

    it’s dirty harry himself. I hope he incorporates “go ahead, make my day” somehow in some way that is funny and not cheesy. great get. he’s only one person but he’ll add some gravitas to mitt romney where most celebrities can only make barack obama seem more like a celebrity than a president.

    my heart wants it to be someone whose life has been forever altered by the policies of the current administration. I mentioned Brian Terry’s parents

    It will be Clint . . . Oh and he’s going to growl; “Obama, get OFF my lawn.”

    Caroline Kennedy. Apparently no warm fuzzies with BHO.

    I’m thinking General Petraeus.

    Christopher Nolan?

  17. Marc says:

    I prefer to evaluate actors and directors on whether they are actually, well, good at what they do. Downgrading them because of their politics reminds me too much of Zdanovism.

    I like the old spaghetti westerns, thought Unforgiven was extremely good, and hated the vigilante stuff. Given his history, Clint endorsing republicans is roughly as surprising as the Sun rising in the east.

  18. Julia Grey says:

    Paul Ryan, Gen X Republican, is going to bring in the youth vote.

    Laffed.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I had a crush on Clint Eastwood in the late 50′s ad 60′s when he played a regular, second-tier character on TV’s Rawhide — Rowdy something. (The show ran while I was in my 8-15 years.) I can still sing the theme song. Then in college I discovered Sergio Leone movies — absolutely loved them (still do), and there was my heartthrob, Clint Eastwood — but I enjoyed these movies no longer for him as heartthrob but for, well, many things, including Leone’s leftist take on American westerns (so we interpreted them then — plus, Leone’s west corresponded much better to the tales told by my Montana-raised father, b. 1918, than did any movie or TV show I’d ever seen out of Hollywood). I remember reading somewhere long ago that Eastwood had to go to Italy to get parts since Hollywood wasn’t interested in him (for movies) — the pattern then of American actors to Italy for sword and sandals and spaghetti westerns, but with a twist, as it turned out.
    Maybe a combination of formative immersion in the strange world of American TV westerns and initial rejection by Hollywood for movie roles, along with whatever predispositions he brought to these experiences, created the talented but seriously stunted director Eastwood we came to know later. (No, he was never much of an actor. Okay, sometimes pretty good, but even at his best, a journeyman.)
    For that “fundamentally stunted”: I’ll cite Mystic River, a very good movie (with some great performances by some truly great actors), but a conventional movie, in the end, compared with In the Bedroom, of which it felt to me like a pale remake (though probably, given production times and such, it wasn’t, actually). (Compare the way Forrest Gump feels like a version of the incredibly better Being There — but the former gets all the attention, has all the Hollywood glitz and approbation attached to it.)
    All this suggests to me that, possibly, Eastwood has always sought the Hollywood approval he didn’t get as a young actor, has a true creative streak (on the directing side), but never develops it fully in his search for approbation (which he’d never accept anyway, since he’s come to define himself as out of reach of that approbation: you ignore me; now you love me, as you should have all along, but I thrived without your love, so now that I’ve got it and basked in it briefly, f you).

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