“As an actor he is limited and has sought to work with directors who have not pushed him to the limit. As a filmmaker he is extremely competent and has a vision. However, he has never written anything and shoots with what falls into his hands, he never reviews a script . He doesn’t guide the actors, he usually gets the first take and everything shot is usually on screen. It doesn’t seem to me that these are the wicks of a cinematic genius. I’m more interested as actor-author than as a director, but in that facet he grows day by day”. Words from Patrick McGilligan, expert biographer of Hollywood creators, and writer of arrogance Clint Eastwood. The biography (Editorial Lumen), written in 1999, revised years later and which continues to be the best approach to a complex, curious, contradictory and fundamental filmmaker. A man who turns 90 this Sunday and who, despite himself, will have cake after the celebration meal.
Today, at his home in Carmel (California), the city of which he was mayor from 1986 to 1988, some of his children will gather – he has at least eight, it has never been known how many – for a simple celebration. One of his offspring, Scott, the one with the best film career, told a few days ago on television: “We are going to do something familiar. Very very quiet. He really doesn’t like birthdays.” Despite his opposition, there will be a party and cake. “Of course we’ll show up with a cake. He probably won’t like it, but we’ll bring him one,” he assured. And there will be more parties: Clint’s mother lived to be 97 years old.
Clint Eastwood has details of old Hollywood stars. Like, for example, his ability to have rewritten his past, without really knowing much about the first three decades of his life, or to make up his personal life. Curious, because in reality Eastwood’s professional origin has more to do with the new times. He was an actor rejected by the cinema for his peculiar physique -prominent walnut included-, and his career germinated on television with the series rawhide, which began airing when he was already 29 years old, before becoming a legend on his European journey: Sergio Leone made him great as his man with no name in the Dollar Trilogy: For a fistful of dollars, death had a price Y The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The mark of the cowboy with a poncho is indelible in the audiovisual soul: all you have to do is watch the series The Mandalorian, whose protagonist moves and behaves with the same dryness and elegance as the protagonist of the spaghetti westerns. Leone and Don Siegel (with whom he made four films, including Dirty Harry) They are also the film parents of director Eastwood. Three years ago, in an interview with the public at the Cannes festival –the farthest he has traveled to promote his work-, the filmmaker said: “I like the first shots because you will never be able to match the surprise of hearing a film for the first time. dialogue. Some of my teachers, like Siegel, did it that way. That’s why I don’t like rehearsals either, because if you repeat too many, the dialogues become monotonous. ‘Analysis leads to paralysis,’ said Don. He was very efficient… of course he always complained about the producers. He rolled fast because he thought fast. Actually, I was during the fifties doing roles of any size both in film and on television, and I learned a lot there”.
Because Eastwood has never ended his romantic or professional relationships well, he has managed to silence any opinion contrary to his figure, he makes the Warner studio eat from his hand…, but he has a tremendous nose for good scripts and hiring great collaborators. He has never written anything, although he does accumulate a handful of masterpieces: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, No Forgiveness, Letters from Iwo Jima, Mystic River, Bird, Million dollar baby, The Pale Rider either White hunter, black heart. He has not been a brutally blockbuster filmmaker, although like Woody Allen -curiously, another filmmaker who denies any intellectual air- he has been able to win the loyalty of European viewers. “Movies have to be exciting, because it’s not an intellectual art,” he said at Cannes.
In that talk at the French contest, Eastwood told why he liked the westerns: “Because it transports you to another time in which an individual could fend for himself, a fantasy almost impossible today.” And that answer, in fact, explains his latest work as a director, based on real events starring apparently normal guys turned into heroes: The Sniper, Sully, 15:17 Train to Paris, Mule Y Richard Jewell. As McGilligan puts it: “Eastwood has fought hard to control its image. It is false that he does not give interviews: there are hundreds, but very few times with a skeptical journalist. He is a superseller of himself, of his image and of his cinema. He has become a personification of America, and not always of the best qualities of it”.
By that he means his proverbial stinginess: every year he demanded a frozen turkey from Warner to give to his mother for Thanksgiving. And they took him on a private plane. He usually keeps a car from all his movies and has never paid in a restaurant. He created his production company, Malpaso, in a big move: he would control his career, but the money would go to Warner. Another of his chiaroscuro is the tradition that his girlfriends play prostitutes in his films. Among them, Sondra Locke, with whom she spent 14 years, whom she forced to have an abortion twice and destroyed her career as a director. Before she died in 2018, Locke published her autobiography The good, the bad and the very ugly. And it is just one example of various macho behaviors. After his divorce in 2013 from Dina Ruiz, several couples have been known to him, although not today.
And then there is the political face of Eastwood. The city of Carmel is 500 kilometers north of Los Angeles and 190 south of San Francisco, where the actor was born, and from 1986 to 1988 Eastwood was its mayor, after the City Council forced him to reform one of his restaurants, part of their businesses in the locality. For decades he defended the Republican Party, and at the party’s convention in 2012 the actor spoke to an empty chair as if he were President Obama. He, too, supported Trump, until in February he got fed up with his mannerisms: “He should behave in a more gentle way, without tweeting and disqualifying people.” And he switched support from him to Bloomberg. Which has left him without a candidate to his liking or a hero to match him.
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Clint Eastwood, 90 turbulent years personally and artistically successful
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