I suppose it started with that tune. Moricone’s haunting melody. For a teen, I think I noticed my parents’ reaction as much as the acting. In fact, what acting? Moody violence mostly, with neat bloodless bullet holes and sweaty shootouts. A Fistful of Dollars, probably starts my film journey with Clint Eastwood. That grubby knitted cape, the chewed cheroot, the ready violence, the lack of a name. He wasn’t a role model, heroic, moral. Just a presence. None of the usual lead’s neat hair and chiselled chin. Was that the attraction?
There have been many Clint films since then. The Dirty Harry franchise that really didn’t make my day. The comedic attempts with Clyde the Orangutan I recall from my Acne Years at Uni in Every Which Way But Loose and its sequel. At least the monkey had a reason to eschew dialogue.
I didn’t like Play Misty For Me. All I know remember of it was the gloomy scenes when I could barely see what was happening. And there was something with Jodie Foster that, in my memory jars rather.
More recently there was Gran Torino which I thought excellent and yesterday the Mule. He’s broke, unloved by pretty much everyone and takes the job as a driver. Only it’s drugs he’s driving. He uses the cash to repair some damage but inevitably causes more. It’s a nice film.
As he’s aged, and he’s ancient now he’s not mellowed. He still chews his words like those bloody cigarillos, his acting is static and minimalist but that’s more likely arthritis than method and he plays that curmudgeonly old grump who’ll kowtow to no one, as a natural successor to the grubby non-syllabic cowboy of yesteryear.
But I enjoy his films. I enjoyed the Mule. He pokes fun at himself, at his generation. He puts in a few nice touches about the importance of family. Even at 80 something he still gets the girl, though these days it’s with a side of defibrillation. It’s the story. He tells a good story. With nicely rounded believable characters. Basically he’s still got the touch which given he started back in the 50s with Rawhide (that really was before my time) is extraordinary.
I doubt I’d like him: he’s a second amendment supporting Trump apologist but so what? He makes films I like. That’ll do.