There have been multiple sightings of Clint Eastwood in my neck of the woods over the last two weeks or so. I don’t care how little one might care about movies or Hollywood, but when you know Clint Eastwood is lurking about, it gets exciting!
Why do I make my way to the Eastwood-owned Hog’s Breath Inn every time I am in northern California? (I’ll be there again this August)! Because I might get a glimpse of Clint, that’s why!
The man who is arguably the most iconic film star in history has been sighted in the gym situated just off Hwy 400 and snooping around the mall and a golf course or two. Lodging in the relatively secluded lodge at Amicalola Falls, he’s here filming his latest endeavor, Trouble With the Curve, a baseball movie set to be released in September 2012. Clint plays a scout on his last trip to sign new talent. Some of the film’s stars have been excitedly sighted here as well … Amy Adams shops for shoes at the mall and Justin Timberlake buys his toothpaste and razors at Wal-Mart. But the BIG news is still the same … Clint Eastwood has been sighted!
Few entertainers can lay claim to Clint’s longevity as an “A-list” star. He exploded to TV audiences on Rawhide (1959-1966) and was an immediate star. Now, 50+ years later, he’s STILL an A-list star, but not “just as an actor.” He’s also a highly regarded director, producer, composer and writer!
Side Note: Who can forget his steely eyed growl just after 911 as he unleashed his rage at the murderers who flew those planes and killed thousands of innocents? Or his urging for Americans to make a big comeback in the 2012 Super Bowl Ad?
So seeing the news of Clint hanging around my back yard finally got me to read a book I’d been saving since 2009 … American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood by Marc Eliot (Crown Publishing Group, 2009).
There have been dozens of books written about ol’ Clint over the years, so I was expecting something really memorable from this read. But while it offered some interesting insights into this iconic and largely private star, overall it fell pretty flat.
The book offers very little original thought and no specific interviews done for the story. Eliot draws all his information from the articles and insights of others, which makes it seem rather pedestrian. He seems to relish the gossip style news of Eastwood’s various romances and affairs (which are numerous) without shedding much light on tales surrounding the filming of his many unforgettable movies.
One fascinating item that struck me was a passing mention of Clint’s tempestuous relationship with Rawhide co-star Eric Fleming. As trail boss Gil Favor, Fleming apparently resented young Eastwood’s rising star and was in danger of being released by CBS. While Clint was riding high from his star-making debut as “The Man with no Name” in Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars (1964) (a role turned down by Charles Bronson), Fleming was hired by MGM-TV to film the two-part adventure program High Jungle in Peru. During the shooting of location shots on the Huallaga River on September 28, 1966, Fleming was lost in the turbulent water. His mutilated body was found several days later. Many rumors still abound to this day about what happened. Did he drown or was he killed by wild animals? Eliot mentions a report of a crocodile attack. I recall my Mom telling me “back in the day” of stories involving piranha “cannibal” fish. Sadly, it seems no one will ever really know and Eliot just sweeps past it.
Otherwise, Eliot only provides some interesting but hardly incendiary snippets … Clint firing director Blake Edwards from City Heat and telling him to “buy a horse” and move along; Clint telling Kevin Costner “you can be replaced” on the set of A Perfect World; Clint taking the role of Frankie Dunn for himself over studio pick Robert Redford in Million Dollar Baby; some rehashed fodder about Clint’s two years as Mayor of Carmel … hey, all of that stuff is cool! But I really wanted to know the inside scoop on the much-publicized break-up from his longtime co-star and partner, Sondra Locke. If you want info on it as well, you’ll be disappointed.
Eliot merely rehashes the facts and ends it with a “settled out of court” wrap-up. And since both parties had to sign legal documents agreeing not to publicly discuss the settlement, you wonder what Locke’s point might be in her own book, The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly (published in 1997).
The bottom line on this book is simple … if you are an avid Eastwood fan, give it a try, but don’t expect to be wowed by the 400 pages of mainly rehashed content. You’d likely be better served to go watch one of your favorite Clint films … for me, that would likely be:
- Dirty Harry (1971). The movie that forever changed action films, especially police drama;
- Joe Kidd (1972). This was the first Clint movie I ever saw at the theater;
- High Plains Drifter (1973). I have written of this film before in this blog … it had an unprecedented effect on me as an aspiring creative writer;
- The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). I was in high school and the paper had advertised Paul Newman’s The Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean. I was thrilled to get to the theater and “discover” a new Eastwood film, one that has become arguably my favorite western of all time;
- Gran Torino (2008). Like John Wayne’s The Shootist and Johnny Cash’s Hurt, this film seemed to be a farewell to fans. I am thankful that it was NOT! (and the music score is AWESOME!!!!!)
Oh heck, let’s be serious! I pretty much love ‘em all (except Bridges of Madison County)! WTH???
So excuse me. I’m headed to the gym. Who knows who I might bump into there? Let’s just say I’m happy to be a punk … and I feel very lucky!