Sunday, 22 April 2018

Private Clint Eastwood’s downed plane off Point Reyes subject of search


Somewhere under the undulating Pacific Ocean, two to three miles off the coast of Point Reyes, is the airplane Army Pvt. Clint Eastwood was aboard when the pilot ditched it in 1951. Now more than 66 years later, the search is on for the aircraft that was part of a real-life drama for Eastwood, long before he would become a Hollywood star.
“What was going through my mind was just a stark fear, a stark terror, because (in the) first place, I didn’t know anything about aviation at that particular time — I was just hopping a ride,” the actor said in 2015, recalling the incident in which the pilot also survived.
The future actor and director (21 at the time) was on route back to Fort Ord after visiting his parents in Seattle when the Navy bomber he was on crashed into rough seas.
“In those days, you could wear your uniform and get a free flight,” he said in a talk at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film & TV. “On the way back, they had one plane, a Douglas AD, sort of a torpedo bomber of the World War II vintage, and I thought I’d hitch on that. Everything went wrong. Radios went out. Oxygen ran out. And finally we ran out of fuel up around Point Reyes, California, and went in the ocean. So we went swimming. It was late October, November. It was very cold water. I found out many years later that it was a white shark breeding ground, but I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time or I’d have just died.”
The incident, which was reported in a front-page story by the Independent Journal, occurred on Sept. 30, 1951, and has caught the interest of Walt Holm, who works with Berkley-based OpenROV, which builds and operates underwater drones. He wants to find the wreck and has started posting archaeological information on National Geographic’s Open Explorer site, which promotes expeditions.
“I’m a bit of an amateur archaeologist and when I heard about this incident I thought it would be an interesting thing to post on Open Explorer,” Holm said. “It’s not significant in terms of archaeology, it won’t re-write the history books, but it’s of public interest because of his public persona and it’s a chapter of his life that not too many people are aware of.”
According to an account posted by Holm, two Navy AD-1 Skyraiders left Naval Air Station Seattle for a routine flight to Mather Field in Sacramento. But one of the planes had radio problems, got separated from the other in bad weather and then got lost. While the pilot eventually managed to get into clear weather, he ran out of fuel while flying down the California coast and had to ditch at about 6:25 p.m., putting Eastwood in a life or death situation off Point Reyes.
“It makes you wonder how if he had drowned, how would have that changed history,” said Holm, who started the project dubbed “The Hunt for Clint Eastwood’s AD-1 Skyraider” last year. “It’s a human interest story.” Part of the reason for posting the project on Open Explorer is educational, Holm said. “We will walk people through the process of doing a historic investigation in a marine environment,” he said. “It’s a project that is close to home for us.”
There were several accounts of the incident, which makes it difficult to pinpoint the crash site, Holm noted.
“We will just have to jump in and go. We do have to wait for the right seas, which is likely in the fall,” said Holm, who gives his effort 50/50 odds of success. “The seas are rough off of Point Reyes and we will be in small boats. We could have a weather window this summer.”
Holm will utilize a side scan sonar device, which is adept at picking up obstructions on the ocean floor and often used in the shipping industry. The airplane could be as deep as 200 feet below the water’s surface, he said.
“It works best if the aircraft is on a flat, smooth area,” Holm said of side scan sonar. “But if you look at the underwater terrain off Point Reyes there are boulder canyons and if it’s in there it will be hard to see. No matter what, it’s going to be fun.” James Delgado, the retired director of maritime heritage for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, looked for the Eastwood plane as part of larger search of aircraft and shipwrecks between 2013 and 2016. “Eastwood’s Skyraider was one of the targets, but nothing turned up,” Delgado said. “But I think there is a real chance it could be found.” 
While not historically significant, the Eastwood airplane search draws attention to the larger effort of finding craft that have been lost at sea, incidents which also had a human toll in many cases.
“It highlights the importance of finding everything out there, and in many cases, it helps bring closure for families,” Delgado said.
Here is the Independent Journal’s Oct. 1, 1951 account of Clint Eastwood’s plane crash off Point Reyes:
Two servicemen, who battled a thick grey fog and a strong surf for almost an hour last night following a plane landing in the ocean near the Marin shore, are returning to their service units today uninjured. Army Pvt. Clinton Eastwood, who wandered into the RCA radio station at Point Reyes after struggling in the ocean, told radio operators he and the pilot were forced to land their AD-2 bomber in the ocean and left on life rafts.
Eastwood said he was returning to Ford Ord from his house in Seattle when the mishap occurred. The pilot, Naval Lt. F.C. Anderson, landed his life raft on the shore at Kehoe Ranch near Pierce Point. He is stationed at Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento. Men at the station said Eastwood walked into the building cold, wet and in a state of shock and spoke incoherently of the plane running out of fuel and how the pilot made a dramatic landing on the rough ocean. Earl Foster of Inverness, a radio operator on duty at the station last night at 6 p.m. when the 21-year-old serviceman pounded in the station door said:
“The boy was dazed and in a state of shock. He could hardly speak.” Foster added he was able to piece together certain parts of the private’s story. From his disjointed speech the operator learned that the plane was landed upright on the water by the pilot. After the landing the two servicemen jumped into the rough sea and inflated two rubber life rafts only to manoeuvre the crafts away from the plane in time to see it engulfed by the water.
Eastwood explained that he and Anderson kept their life rafts together until they hit the breakers near the rocky Marin coast. At this point, he stated, they were separated. Eastwood said he continued to paddle through the strong surf until he was thrown from the raft. The serviceman told Foster each time he advanced toward the shore; the strong breakers would carry him out to sea again. At one spot, he said, he was almost drawn down by the undertow. Eastwood said he could not say how long he was in the water. When he reached shore though, he recalled, he fell to the ground and crawled to the station house.
After a brief rest in the house where he was warmed, Eastwood was taken to the Coast Guard Life Boat Station at Point Reyes where he met Anderson. At the station the men received medical attention and started on their way back to their units. An officer of the Coast Guard station said security restrictions prevented any report concerning the plane which was no longer visible in the ocean. He refused to comment on the possibility of recovering the aircraft.


*There seems to be a conflict above as Clint’s plane is referred to as both an AD-1 and an AD-2. Naturally, it must have been a 2 seater design, and whilst I’m no plane expert, the earliest two seater design I could find was the AD-1Q. The picture I have used in the header is the A1 Skyraider.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

A Fistful of Dollars 2018 4K Re release

With the current re-release of A Fistful of Dollars being shown in selected countries around the world, I thought I’d set up this page to celebrate the event. The film is currently being shown at London’s NFT and ties in with a concurrent Sergio Leone season of films. The re-release is also accompanied by a new promotional campaign featuring a new 1-sheet and Quad poster. Last month I did attempt reaching out to Park Circus who are responsible for this release, in the hope of securing a couple of posters for the Archive, but unfortunately our request was ignored. There is also a super new trailer to mark this release which reflects perfectly the quality and care that has gone into the restoration.
                
Below is a nice review by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw – who has given the film a 5/5 rating.
A Fistful of Dollars review – punk-rock western as fabulous as ever
The film that made Clint Eastwood a star and legend has a cult, comic-book intensity
Two fistfuls in fact: two $500 payments – a gigantic amount – which the Man with No Name accepts casually from either side of a bloody feud in the sun-baked Mexican town of San Miguel. He has blown in like a strange force of nature, with a coolly amoral plan to use their mutual hate to his own gun slinging advantage. Striding towards a gunfight, he tells the coffin-maker in advance how many to knock up.
This is the 1964 movie, now on re release, which created the revolutionary new genre of the Spaghetti Western, an Italian co production shot in Spain and directed with inspirational pulp passion by Sergio Leone –drawing on Kurosawa. And it made a star and a legend of Clint Eastwood. He had been the impetuous young Rowdy Yates on TV’s Rawhide, an open-faced boy with a pleasant singing voice. In this movie, he suddenly, terrifyingly grew up: hat, poncho, grizzly growth of beard, short cigar, and his eyes perpetually screwed up, as if staring into the sun or suppressing a grimace of incredulous disgust. 
The Man with No Name and the brutal Dollars movies were a colossal rebuke to the blander Rawhide-style westerns that had come to dominate television.
The other figure that became a legend here was composer Ennio Morricone, for his extraordinary musical score – sometimes with plaintive and slightly nasal trumpets that declaimed his robust Aranjuez-type pastiche, and sometimes the main theme with its whip-poor-will whistling cries, whip-cracks, bells and eerie percussive shouts. The blaringly dubbed dialogue from bit-part players adds to the dreamlike quality of the film.

The Man With No Name (he acquires the name “Joe” from the locals, apparently an all-purpose term for gringos) arrives and instantly sizes up the way the local Rojo brothers are psychotically bullying a small child, who has been taken away from his mother, Marisol (Marianne Koch), because one of the brothers has conceived a fanatically possessive attachment to this woman. This is the hateful bandit Ramón (Gian Maria Volontè), who has a sensual face that often looms sweaty in Leone’s many melodramatic close-ups – like a cross between Omar Sharif and Laurence Olivier.
His is the crew which has audaciously kidnapped and killed members of the US army and, disguised in their uniforms, tricked the Mexican army into handing over a huge amount in gold in return for a promised consignment of rifles. The deal ends in slaughter. Ranged against the Rojo gang are the Baxters – Anglos who are every bit as violent, and also pompous and pusillanimous. Eastwood’s nameless avenger somehow manages to use one against the other, but shows a human side, of a sort, in his laconic friendship with the bar owner Silvanito (José Calvo) and his gallant rescue of Marisol.
Finally, he will materialise as if from a dust storm with what looks like a supernatural invulnerability to bullets, though keen to dispute Ramón’s belief that a Winchester repeating rifle will always be better than a .45 pistol. And he achieves that all-important ronin asceticism, a need only to keep moving on, although that thousand dollars has in fact made him very rich. A Fistful of Dollars has a cult, comic-book intensity. It is the punk rock of westerns.

Lumiere 2009 Grand Lyon Film Festival rare poster

A close friend of the Archive was recently lucky enough to secure one of these beautiful posters (40cmx x 60cm French petite, left) for the 2009 Grand Lyon Film Festival in which Clint attended. These posters have proven incredibly hard to acquire. The rare poster was also produced in a landscape style for the event which took place between the 13th and 18th of October.

The landscape design version (below) contained a little more of the classic man with no name image in comparison to the portrait version. I have also included a picture of Clint at the event with film critic Pierre Rissient (right) and French director Bertrand Tavernier (left). The photo was taken on the last day of the festival. Behind them is the standee banner style of the poster. 

My kind thanks to Davy Triumph who is the friend in question and now lucky owner of the petite. Should anyone happen to have any version rolled up and doing nothing but gathering dust – I will of course be happy to look after it on your behalf – lol, I jest…  kinda 

Monday, 2 April 2018

Flashback – 32 years ago this week, Clint became Mayor of Carmel

Can you quite believe it? This coming week marks 32 years since Clint was elected Mayor of Carmel, California. 
It’s a story that always sticks with me as it all happened on my birthday. On April 8, 1986, Clint Eastwood defeated incumbent Charlotte Townsend to become mayor of Carmel, a small seaside city in his home state of California. With just 4500 residents and one square mile of land, the town was a perfect fit for the actor, who professed no grand ambitions to run for office for anything larger.

But why did Eastwood, who was still churning out hit movies more than 30 years after beginning his career as a screen actor—choose to run at all? In 1985, Carmel’s city council gave him what he alleged to be an extraordinary amount of grief over plans to erect office buildings on property he owned within city limits. Eastwood was so aggrieved he sued the council, and won an out-of-court settlement; the settlement allowed for permission to build if he used more wood than glass.
Carmel had long been a city inoculated against any kind of radical development: There weren't even street signs. (All mail went to a central post office.) A 1929 zoning law, which was still in effect, even banned ice cream cones from being sold.
Eastwood felt that residents were divided between a devotion to keeping the area modest and those who felt new business would be economically beneficial. On January 30, 1986—just hours before the deadline—he decided to run for office.
He called two-term Mayor Townsend a “litigious” official and vowed to ease the tension between factions. While his celebrity as a performer helped, the town also felt indebted to him for rescuing a historic animal sanctuary, the Mission Ranch, from being bulldozed by condo developers. When city officials couldn’t buy it back, Eastwood spent almost $5 million of his own money to keep it standing.


Unable to stir that kind of sentiment, Townsend sniped that Eastwood, who owned a home within city limits, had an unlisted telephone number in the phone directory, whereas she took calls from residents any time. (Eastwood vowed to get an answering machine.)
The day of the election, Eastwood received 2166 votes to Townsend’s 799. He was sworn in the following week. City Hall, a tiny piece of real estate, quickly gave way to a local women’s club that could fit 200 people for his weekly town council meetings. As one of his first acts in office, Eastwood tossed out the planning board that had vetoed an ice cream prohibition repeal; men, women, and children could enjoy cones, and proprietors could sell them.
Despite the landslide victory, not everyone was pleased with Eastwood’s new role. Tourism increased markedly, with fistfights over the few available parking spaces and traffic that choked Ocean Avenue, the main artery in the city. A "Clintsville" gift shop popped up, along with a nearby Hyatt Regency that used the slogan “Make My Stay.” Eastwood, residents said, had attracted "two-hour tourists" to their quiet hamlet.
Still, Eastwood’s rule proved productive. During his first year in office, he installed more public toilets, added more stairways leading to the beach, and expanded the offerings of the local library. If he was shooting a movie, he’d fly back for the weekly council meetings. 
Eastwood even penned a regular column in the town’s paper, The Carmel Pine Cone, and used one instalment to compare Councilman James Wright to a “spoiled child” for not showing up to meetings.
Eastwood did not seek re-election, telling journalists in February 1988 that he felt it was time to devote more attention to his children. The $200 salary he drew every month was donated to a local youth centre.
A reminder: The Archive does have a dedicated page covering the Carmel Election and Clint’s term as Mayor and can be found here. It contains a great deal of my collection, but there is still a lot of Newspaper reports to be scanned and other pieces such as T-shirts which have to be photographed, eventually…

Clint Eastwood voted the coolest actor of all time


I had to laugh at this rather tongue-in-cheek story which appeared last week in the LAD BIBLE. It’s not the first time of course, and it’s never strange to see the usual suspects spoken in the same breath, such as McQueen, Newman and Dean. These polls have been appearing as far back as I can remember. However, times have certainly changed, especially when it comes to the competition…

"Do you feel lucky, well, do you?"
Yes, Clint Eastwood has delivered a host of easily memorable, quotable lines in his time, and it's for that reason that the 87-year-old has been voted the coolest actor of all time.
Ranker has been doing what Ranker does best, which is ranking things, and the website has compiled a list of how cool viewers' think various actors from throughout the ages are.
The Million Dollar Baby and Unforgiven star, who also directed both films, came out on top, beating Tom Hanks in second place. Tom Hanks seems a strange choice as the world's second coolest actor. It's not that he isn't cool (I've seen that Carly Rae Jepsen video), just that he's made a career out of being Johnny Everyman, in some cases Johnny Everyman who is decidedly uncool. In Forest Gump he could barely talk, yet implausibly managed to reveal the Watergate Scandal.
Hanks beat Bullitt star Steve McQueen, while the rest of the list was comprised of Paul Newman, James Dean, Jack Nicholson, Sean Connery, Harrison Ford and Robert De Niro.
Amazingly, Samuel L. Jackson, who ha more or less only played cool characters in the last 20 years, was only ranked 21, a place above Robert Downey Jr. Meanwhile, way down at 100 was Alec Guinness, better known as Obi Wan Kenobi, three places behind Patrick Swayze.
Yup, the coolest Jedi of all time was three places behind the guy from Dirty Dancing. Eastwood certainly deserves his standing as the world's most cooler-than-being-cool actor. Aside from his veritable acting credits, the actor once survived a plane crash on a Douglas AD bomber, when the plane ran out of fuel and plummeted into the ocean. Eastwood and the pilot managed to use a life raft and swim two miles to safety.
He has starred in or directed (or both) films such as Gran Torino, Flags Of Our Fathers, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good the Bad and the Ugly and Where Eagles Dare, as well as being Oscar-nominated on 12 occasions (winning four awards).
However, his coolest and greatest achievement is undeniably his appearance in 1969's Paint Your Wagon alongside fellow Hollywood tough guy Lee Marvin.
Set in a mining camp in Gold Rush-era California, it saw Eastwood blend his macho persona with some song and dance action, and put to bed once and for all the notion that cigar-chomping, tough-as-nails cowboys couldn't also belt out a thunderously good song and dance number when and wherever they felt like it.

Hmmm, ‘Paint your Wagon’ – ‘his coolest and greatest achievement’? – Hey, I love Paint your wagon, but come on, who writes this stuff? And not a single mention of Dirty Harry?

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Rare Eastwood pin-ups 1960s style

I was browsing the internet yesterday and by accident spotted these 2 full page magazine pin-ups. I thought I would post them here as I am not familiar with either of the photos. Looking at Eastwood in these shots I would probably date them as mid to late 60s. 
                  

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Man Who Loves Women, October 25th, 2010



Clint Eastwood has for decades embodied red-blooded, red-state American manhood, but under that persona evolved a soulful, deeply humane perspective on the sexes that has blossomed into a late, great filmmaking adventure. I recently discovered this piece whilst I was researching for a class presentation on equality and diversity within Eastwood’s films. It’s a piece by Karen Durbin for ELLE that was originally published on October 25th, 2010. I thought I’d reproduce it here as I found it to be a very enjoyable read. I’ve also enhanced it with some photos relevant to the story.

Channel surfing one lazy afternoon in the '90s, I was stopped in my tracks at the sight of Clint Eastwood on the hot seat in John McLaughlin's One on One interview show. McLaughlin is best known as the irascible, right-leaning host of The McLaughlin Group, a weekly Washington, DC, journalists' free-for-all. That day, thrilled to have such a spectacular guest all to himself, McLaughlin was pitching softballs. But as in the fable of the scorpion and the frog, his true nature suddenly erupted, and, ­fixing Eastwood with a suspicious glare, he barked, "Some people say your movies have a ­hidden feminist agenda. Is that true?" His eyes dancing with delight, Eastwood could barely keep a straight face, finally ­saying, "The only agenda I have for my movies is they should be good."
Well, sure, but funnily enough, McLaughlin was on to something. Recalling the show today, Eastwood says, "Everybody's always trying to put a spin on what a person is or what they do. When I was growing up, George Cukor was known as a women's director, primarily because his movies had great female leads. But Howard Hawks did wonderful movies such as His Girl Friday, and he was considered a man's director." Eastwood has proved to be both. I think a feminist element entered his work almost 40 years ago and made it better. It's not an ideological thing, nor does it need to be.
A gut sense of fairness toward women and a camaraderie built on empathy and respect will do just fine.
Eastwood has become a woman-­friendly director because he's actually interested in us. In his recent films, the sexes take turns on centre stage, from Million Dollar Baby (Hilary Swank as a young woman hoping to box her way out of poverty) to the Iwo Jima war films, then Changeling (Angelina Jolie as a 1920s mother who loses her child under corrupt and horrific circumstances), then Gran Torino (Eastwood as a crusty bigot able to change) and Invictus (with his good buddy Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela).
In his new film, Hereafter, the twain meet again, with the lovely Belgian actress Cecile de France as a journalist trapped underwater by a lethal tsunami, then almost miraculously returned to life, and Matt Damon as a reluctant psychic who can communicate with the dead but longs desperately to be normal. Bryce Dallas Howard puts in a luminous appearance too, and so do little identical British twin brothers.
The supernatural theme in Hereafter is ­subtle, although the movie's inspired description of the afterlife is something to savour. But the film's real subject and the source of its emotional power is that ­terrible thing we all face: not our own death, but the deaths of those we love. Eastwood, who just turned 80, treats this subject with ­uncommon grace. Age hasn't made him maudlin, just deft. Talking about working with him for the first time, de France says, "Every day he would put his hand on my head—he's very cool, very tender. He really emanates love. Watching him work, I thought I really would like to be in his skin. He's happy, and he's found serenity in ­himself."
Does that sound like Dirty Harry to you? Over the years, Eastwood has evolved as few actors have into one of the true—and most versatile—artists of American cinema: acting, directing, producing—even compos­ing the music for some of his films. But before any of this happened, he became a world-famous icon of industrial-strength machismo by playing two characters. In the mid-'60s, he was the Man With No Name, a roughneck serape-wearing cowboy in a trio of Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, a character he gave an allegorical tinge to in 1973 in High Plains Drifter, his third movie as a director. A tale of vengeful salvation, it contains a scene in which his character, dubbed the Stranger, makes a point of raping a woman—an awful woman in the awful town that he's ruthlessly setting to rights, but rape is rape. By that time, the '70s backlash against the transformative '60s had set in. The Man with No Name had an urban counterpart in Dirty Harry Callahan, a Magnum-flashing San Francisco cop who shoots the bad guys and gets in trouble with the city's Constitution-quoting liberals.
The Dirty Harry movies were glib, nasty, and maliciously false; they're not just silly dick flicks but a relentless attack on the Bill of Rights: Judges don't gloat at letting murderers go free, and DAs don't love tying cops' hands. Once the mayor of Carmel, California, Eastwood genuinely cares about the health of the body politic, and whatever he thought about those films at the time (he was past 40 and they made him a huge star) his fans' reactions made him uneasy.
"People are always trying to equate you with the roles you play. When you start going out and diversifying, they say, `Wait a minute, why is he doing this?' In my earlier years, I found that people would be disappointed if I didn't pull out a .45 Magnum." He sounds even more uneasy today about the country at large. "We're at a point now where nobody can have a political discussion without calling each other meatheads and idiots," he says. "In the old days you ­discussed things. I guess we were more liberal then. Now it seems that no one is inter­ested in that. It's very frightening."
Luckily, Eastwood had already begun to diversify, and his first effort as a director, Play Misty for Me (1971), immediately drew complaints. The beautiful Jessica Walter—known today as the mean mom in Arrested Development—plays Evelyn, a fling of Eastwood's late-night DJ who becomes his lethal stalker. Via e-mail, Walter says, 
"We decided we shouldn't know anything about her because it would be scarier that way." 

It is. Evelyn is truly frightening, but she's familiar, too. Who hasn't gone postal on a man and felt mortified afterward? Eastwood's camera never mocks Evelyn. Walter shows us her painful fear and confusion; her eyes widen anxiously as paranoia sweeps over her like a veil, erasing any trace of sanity and culminating in off-the-leash rage. You can't help feeling relieved at her death; it's an end to her suffering as well.

"Forty years ago, people were very conscious of feminism," Eastwood says. "The first picture I directed had Jessica Walter's wonderful performance in a wonderful role, and I had feminists saying, `Why are you so oppressive to women?' At the same time, one of the executives at Universal asked me, `Why would Clint Eastwood want to make a movie where a woman had the best role?' "
Eastwood's oeuvre soon became studded with rich, prominent roles for women, and this time, virtue was rewarded. Five years ago, Million Dollar Baby brought Eastwood Oscars for best director and best picture, another to Hilary Swank for best actress, and one for Morgan Freeman for best supporting actor. The story portrays Maggie Fitzgerald's dogged quest to become a boxer. Eastwood, as the aging trainer Frankie Dunn, unpleasantly points out, "I don't train girls." Eventually he does, of course, and the decision profoundly alters his life. Eastwood and Swank carry equal weight in this movie, but her performance goes so deep it's impossible to imagine ­anyone else in the role. Swank puts it all on him, of course. "It's his great belief in you that lets you jump off the cliff," she says. "Yet you have to have a safety net, and Clint gives that to you by making the set a very safe place in which to work."
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Eastwood is how romantic he can be, off screen as well as on. Known in his jazz-playing youth as a ladies' man not unlike the DJ in Misty, he's now a pater­familias in spades and revels in it. He has seven children with five women, bookended by marriages. His first union, a young actor and model's heady impulse, lasted for more than three decades; the ­second began when TV journalist Dina Ruiz interviewed him, and they're still going strong. His daughter with the actress Frances Fisher lives with him and Dina and their daughter during the school year because Monterey beats L.A. as a place to raise a kid. And he speaks with palpable pleasure about his son Scott, now 24, whom he introduced to music early on and who is now dedicated to it in a way that, Eastwood says wistfully, he and his Depression-era dad couldn't be. If his approach to family is more countercultural than nuclear, then judging by the lack of gossip and bitter tell-all books emanating from the arrangement, everybody seems reasonably content. (In the '80s, however, following her breakup with Eastwood and an undisclosed settlement with him and Warner Bros., Sondra Locke did write a tell-all with the Leone-ian title The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly.)
It's easy to forget that Eastwood didn't just star with Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County, he was her director, too, and the result is one of the best love stories, middle age be damned, ever to grace a movie screen. In adapting the purple-prose novel of thwarted passion between a rural housewife and a photojournalist, Eastwood gave Streep a gift that wasn't just generous but smart—he reversed the perspective. "The book told the story from the man's point of view," he says, "but it's the woman's dilemma of having a family and facing big decisions." Streep describes a scene in which the lovers fight and she accuses him of standing apart from life, just being an observer, and says she's just a byway for him. "And he breaks," she says. "He shocked me when it happened. It was something Sean Penn would be very proud of—you can just march right up to the podium with that performance. And he cut it out. It wasn't about him. It was a matter of never losing focus on the piece and its integrity." As for the notion that a lot of directors don't have a deep interest in women, just saying that to Streep inspires a vigorous hoot. "That is the understatement of the century," she says. "And that's right, it's just interest. Clint at some point became interested."
Eastwood has a witty way with love scenes, particularly the hesitation waltz between people who are just starting to realize what's happening. De France describes a scene in Hereafter in which she and Damon are meeting in a public place. "The camera went around and around, circling us. Suddenly Eastwood says, `Okay, can you kiss the girl?' ”She laughs, adding, "It was not written in the script!" No, but it's there on the screen, two people surprised by love, looking utterly real.
In such unlikely films as the militaristic Heartbreak Ridge, with its gnarled gunnery sergeant (played by our guy) who has a secret stash of women's magazines he pores over to understand us—particularly his ex-wife—better, Eastwood has a way of acknowledging the importance of women. And in Bird, he tells the story of the heroin-doomed jazz genius Charlie Parker from the perspective of Parker's wife, Chan, with Diane Venora both a pungent presence and a satisfying reality check throughout the movie. But never has Eastwood injected a female perspective into a male genre to greater effect than in Unforgiven, the movie he calls his last western because he doesn't believe he'll ever find a better one. Unforgiven, which brought Eastwood his first pair of Oscars in 1993, and the less celebrated 1984 New Orleans noir Tightrope, are two brilliant repudiations of the ethos that made Harry Callahan and the homeless man on horseback into romantic figures.
Unforgiven opens with a particularly ugly act of violence: A cowboy cuts up the face of a young prostitute he thinks has laughed at his small penis. When the bully who runs the town refuses to ­punish the cowboy, the prostitutes' enraged madam rallies them to raise a bounty: "Just because we let them smelly fools ride us like horses doesn't mean they can brand us like horses. Maybe we ain't nothing but whores, but we, by God, ain't horses." That's what brings Eastwood's retired and bitterly regretful gunslinger—now an impoverished widower with small children—into the drama, which plays out violently, and largely among men. But the women's implicit critique of the codes of masculinity infuses the whole movie, preventing it from becoming just another ­righteous thrill ride.

In Tightrope, credited to Richard Tuggle but much of it directed by Eastwood, he creates the antithesis of the confidently lethal Dirty Harry. Wes Block is a New Orleans homicide detective riddled with guilty self-doubt who is the devoted single dad of two daughters. This murkily handsome movie doesn't pit good and evil against each other so much as explore the thin line between them. Pursuing a serial killer, Block finds himself in a moral fun house hall of mirrors; among other things, the killer makes a specialty of murdering the prostitutes Block has taken to visiting. But the movie's most radical element, in more ways than one, is the woman Block finds himself increasingly drawn to. She's the smart, no-nonsense head of a rape crisis centre who teaches self-defence, and as played by the masterfully understated Genevieve Bujold, she holds out to Block not just the possibility of redemption but of simple peace. When I asked Eastwood if she was in Tuggle's script to begin with, he mentioned other things in the script but said he couldn't remember. I'm not sure I believe him, but that's okay. To go in 12 years from High Plains Drifter's portrayal of a woman's punishment by rape to a romance with the kick-ass head of a rape crisis centre is a hell of a learning curve.