I’m watching Clint Eastwood tonight. And if you don’t like Clint, be warned, because a hand might reach out of this computer screen and punch you.
Hollywood has given us lots of tough-as-nails, unshaven badasses over the years. They play by their own rules and are regarded by fat, cigar-chomping police chiefs as “loose cannons.” But none of these loose cannons were ever as crazy balls-tough as Clint Eastwood. This guy has defined rugged masculinity for the last 50 years. He was Dirty Harry, the cop who ate a sandwich while shooting seven people, then intimidated the eighth until he peed himself. As the Man With No Name in spaghetti westerns, he was the poncho-wearing, cigarillo-smoking tough guy whose turn-ons include not saying anything and riding into town killing everyone.
We all know Clint Eastwood is old now. The fact that he’s 82 years old is actually pretty alarming. The life expectancy of an American male is only 75. Clint’s living on borrowed time, statistically speaking. The truth is that the man known for asking punks if they feel lucky is now more likely to ask himself the same question every time he gets out of bed or goes to the bathroom.
Maybe that’s why he’s closed the book on his acting career, with his final role having been that of a racist old guy in 2008’s Gran Torino. It was his highest grossing film. In that movie, Clint spends most of his time drinking beer, making gunfingers, spouting every racial slur possible and telling kids to get off his lawn. Clint also delivers the funniest joke I’ve ever heard when he says, “Oh, I’ve got one. A Mexican, a Jew, and a colored guy go into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “Get the fuck out of here.”
In reality, Clint Eastwood is not a grouchy old racist. But he does hate liberals and once threatened to kick Michael Moore’s fat ass. He’s also an accomplished jazz musician, winner of 5 Academy Awards, and a notorious womanizer who has fathered at least 7 children with five different women.
Which is why I’ve chosen 1971’s Play Misty For Me as the movie to watch tonight. It was his first directorial effort, the one that turned a 40-year-old action star into a serious filmmaker, and the film that best defines the real Clint Eastwood.
A girl calls up every night at about the same time and asks the disc jockey to play Misty for her. Some nights he does. Clint is the all-night voice at a small station in Carmel who plays records, reads poems, and hopes to fix his life some day. After work one night, he picks up a girl in a bar. Or maybe she picks him up. She’s the girl who likes Misty. She is also batshit crazy and has a thing for knives.
Pass the popcorn, please.