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The G.B.U. Trio in WEST
Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:01am

Let me qualify this by saying that I am a big fan of Eastwood as both an actor and director--though I prefer him as an actor; in recent years, he sometimes gets too leisurely with his pacing--to the point of distraction. That being said, I don't blame him for being less than thrilled with what Leone offered him in WEST. He'd been kicking around as a bit player and an American Television actor for a decade, and he finally starting receiving critical recognition with his work in the three DOLLARS films. I get why Leone would've wanted to use the trio from the previous film as a loose link to West's predecessors; at the same time, I understand why all three actors would turn down those parts of the three gunmen at Battle Creek Station. All three actors were wise to pass on what was offered--they had quarterbacked major pictures, and regressing to glorified cameos would've hurt their careers, especially Lee's and Clint's. It worked out for the best as Woody Strode, Jack Elam, and Al Mulock were perfect in their roles.

I believe one of the reasons Clint harbored a bit of an attitude was because of the American film critics of the era decrying his work, and writing him off as an uber-violent, one-trick pony--in particular, Pauline Kael (whom I absolutely CANNOT STAND as a film critic). If anything, Clint should be remembered as a trailblazer in terms of placing the magnifying glass on "pure cinema." There is a great poetry to players who use their eyes, their faces, their hands, and their body language to convey tones and moods. I've heard that description used regarding his work as an actor--"a living caricature"--but I don't really understand that assessment. Clint has his own unique style--I will allow that he doesn't have a wide range the way other actors might; however, when placed in specific type roles (tough police officers, or hardnosed gunmen) his strengths are amplified to infinite proportions, and what he does well, he does flawlessly.

Oh yes--Gene Hackman totally upstaged him in UNFORGIVEN, but I believe that was by design. It was about the time that film was released (1992) that it became "cool" to be an Eastwood fan from a scholarly perspective, and I believe that he finally got comfortable in his own skin as an actor and director since a younger crop of film critics who grew up with his films in the late 60s through the early 80s appreciated what he brought to the table--and the stuffy, uptight old school crew finally died off (yes, I especially mean Ms. Kael). He played a great part in William Munny, but Munny was a weary man, broken and haunted by the sins of his past--whereas Hackman's Little Bill Daggett is just a straight up, mean sonofabitch. Not unlike Angel Eyes in G.B.U.

One other comment about Clint: he made the move back to the States at just the right time, forming Malpaso Co. and doing several pictures--1968's COOGAN'S BLUFF and HANG 'EM HIGH--in which he imbued his characters with touches of his Blondie/Manco characters. I feel that if Lee had come back at the same time, he could've catapulted his European successes into the same kind of winning streak here in the States.


  • OUaTitWDoc, Sat Feb 17 9:57pm
    I heard that Leone wanted Clint, Lee and Eli for his triumphant Once Upon a Time in the West. Story has it that Clint thought "Great, the gang is back together" until he learned that Leone had... more
    • The G.B.U. Trio in WEST — TheBad7, Mon Feb 19 5:01am
      • ClintDCG, Tue Feb 20 10:58am
        First off: Nice Overview/Perspective on Clint, amigo. I'm pretty sure you know, TB7, that I agree with you --- and have spouting similar words for decades, whenever I fall into conversation about... more
        • @DC: The Eastwood Approach **Spoilers**TheBad7, Tue Feb 20 12:48pm
          Hi DC-- That's the definitive element to Clint as an actor--I'll be the first to admit, and I am a massive fan of his (have been since childhood), that he has a limited range as an actor. That being... more
          • Clint, reduxDCG, Wed Feb 21 6:35am
            Not a lot to add, amigo --- you pretty much covered it! ;) But I'll try... Never read BRIDGES/MC, and only saw the film a few years after it debuted. For whatever reason, it just didn't interest me... more
            • Final Eastwood ThoughtsTheBad7, Thu Feb 22 1:34am
              Hi DC-- I only happened by THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY as it was in a stack of novels I had acquired--this was when I was a teenager, and at the time I was a voracious reader; it was there, I had... more
            • "That's you! You're The Thunderbolt!"TheBad7, Wed Feb 21 8:06am
              No need for further explanation on THUNDERBOLT & LIGHTFOOT--it's in my Top Three for Eastwood pictures. He and Jeff Bridges should've both scored Oscars for their work in that film--you could even... more
            • Not to worry!Maggie, Wed Feb 21 7:04am
              I wont stop stopping by because you go Eastwood or OT, I'm just slightly bogged down with work for a couple of days. I'm reading along every now and again, but I won't be able to write much before... ... more
      • Very insightful comments. Thanks! (nm)Doc, Mon Feb 19 9:40pm
    • Agree w/yr assessment, Doc...DCG, Sun Feb 18 2:23am
      ...and recall, as a kid, a Clint feature in PEOPLE magazine (mid-70s) that included a shot of him screening film for Editing practice. Best, DCG.
    • I'd be interestedMaggie, Sun Feb 18 1:26am
      in the male/female ratio among LVC fans and among Clint fans. In my perception Clint does not score very high in sex appeal, but Lee clearly does. At least I have known more male Clint fans than... more
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