January 9, 2009

"I suppose they heard there would be a lot of ham" is the kind of script line that seems to dare critics to make it into an insult.

But Clint Eastwood says it early on in "Gran Torino." His character is explaining why so many people showed up at the house after his wife's funeral. And maybe there was a lot of ham — nearly all of it from Eastwood — but it was delicious ham. I loved this movie. The only thing that would have made me love it more would be if the other actors had been capable of serving up the same kind of ham. But the 2 actors who play the Hmong brother and sister who live next door are not well-seasoned, so there is a bit of a flaw. They're okay though. Anyway, I laughed, I cried — a great movie experience.

Some random thoughts:

1. I've complained about the movie cliché of having a character in the bathtub, but it mainly annoys me when it's used as a way to get young actresses naked. So I was amused by the twist of having the old geezer in the tub.

2. Eastwood smokes a lot in the movie, and smoking is important for more than one plot point — in a movie with a clockwork plot — but at the very end of the credits we are assured that no one connected with the movie accepted any product placement money from tobacco companies.

3. The last movie I'd seen was "Doubt," so this was the second movie in a row with an important priest character. The priest plays a nice counterpoint to Eastwood's character. He's young. Eastwood's old, and they are at odds over religion. It's an excellent religion movie, as we see both Catholicism and the religious practices of the Hmong. Not only is there a priest, there's a shaman, and they both get criticism and respect.

4. Much as I'd love to go to the café after the movie and have a long conversation about religion, I have another discussion question: Does the movie legitimatize racial epithets? We have our snarling but lovable geezer spitting a hundred racist slurs — especially to refer to Asians — over the course of the movie. And, in trying to teach his young mentee how to man up — and not be a pussy — he encourages him to banter playfully using words like "wop," "mick," and so forth. You might want to say it's a hilarious slap in the face of political correctness. But I think the movie is pretty effective in selling plain old-fashioned racial talk.

5. This is a good movie for people who like cars and guns and tools. There's also a lot of drinking and, as I said, smoking. And a military medal, a lawnmower, and a dog. All the manly things. With lots of manliness on top.

6. The old man teaches his mentee about tools. He starts him off with the 3 items with which — he says — you can do half of the jobs you need to do. These items are: WD-40, a vise-grip, and duct tape.

7. American flags, American flags, American flags. You want to see American flags? I'd say they appear in half the shots.

8. This was one of the very few movies I've seen where I never looked at my watch. I was never even tempted to look at my watch. It had a nice, crisp story arc. I appreciate that.

9. Driving home, I was thinking: Clint Eastwood is the best Hollywood guy ever.

10. I remember when Clint Eastwood was the cute guy on "Rawhide." I saw "Dirty Harry" when it first came out in the theater, when enjoying it was considered a guilty pleasure for us peace-and-love hippies. That was long ago, and a ton of respect for Eastwood has accumulated over the years. That's cool.

115 comments:

Bob said...

I read a Leonard Pitts column on the movie, and apparently the racist character Eastwood plays in the movie uses every epithet in the book for every racial group there is, until he's confronted by Detroit gangbangers, where he's only able to muster a rather lame "spooks" to describe them. PC got the better of him at the crucial moment.

LonewackoDotCom said...

I'm as glad as ever that I've been boycotting Hwd for well over a decade.

Would anyone else who's seen it care to weigh in on the various lessons it was trying to teach, from the standpoint of it being little more than a propaganda product designed to also make money?

Ann Althouse said...

Bob, that's interesting, but I think "spooks" wasn't out of place, because he was using all kinds of old-fashioned epithets -- including a lot of weird ones for Asians that seemed to come from the Korean War military vocabulary.

chickenlittle said...

It sounds infinitely more interesting than "Milk". You got me sold on going.

dbp said...

Gonzales: There is one question, Inspector Callahan: Why do they call you "Dirty Harry"?
De Georgio: Ah that's one thing about our Harry, doesn't play any favorites! Harry hates everybody: Limeys, Micks, Hebes, Fat Dagos, Niggers, Honkies, Chinks, you name it.
Gonzales: How does he feel about Mexicans?
De Georgio: Ask him.
Harry Callahan: Especially Spics.

Pogo said...

Troop's got it.

He's an old style American he-man hero/anti-hero, up against the odds.

I've been waiting for this film for months.

The Drill SGT said...

4. he encourages him to banter playfully using words like "wop," "mick," and so forth. You might want to say it's a hilarious slap in the face of political correctness. But I think the movie is pretty effective in selling plain old-fashioned racial talk.

Clint acts, Directors and produces this. He has creative control. That stuff is a reprise of his Dirty Harry:

Gonzales: There is one question, Inspector Callahan: Why do they call you "Dirty Harry"?
De Georgio: Ah that's one thing about our Harry, doesn't play any favorites! Harry hates everybody: Limeys, Micks, Hebes, Fat Dagos, Niggers, Honkies, Chinks, you name it.
Gonzales: How does he feel about Mexicans?
De Georgio: Ask him.
Harry Callahan: Especially Spics.


5 All the manly things. With lots of manliness on top.

in Absolute Power, the character, Luther Whitney is a jewel thief artist, AARP member:

Luther Whitney: This person, they... they go in the front door, then they go out a window and down a rope in the middle of the night?
[Seth nods]
Luther Whitney: If I could do something like that, I'd be the star of my A.A.R.P. meetings.

Luther Whitney: [to Seth] Do you realize the skill in breaking the security of a security company? I don't know how those guys do it.

Luther Whitney: [to Seth] You gotta get with the program if you're gonna catch this guy.

Ann Althouse said...

"the various lessons"

1. A man should get a real job, a man's job -- build things, use tools.

2. Violence is terrible. It's not some game.

3. A man should be close to his sons.

4. Even a bad man can get the best woman in the world to marry him if he works at it hard enough, and even if he hates just about everything else, he can see the real value of that.

5. A young man should perceive when a girl likes him and he needs to ask her out to dinner and a movie before somebody else does.

6. A boy needs a man to teach him how to be a man.

7. Don't smoke.

8. Kids should show respect.

9. You should take care of your property -- your house and lawn.

10. You should collect a full set of tools, and hang them up on the wall in good order. And teach your sons how to use them.

11. There's phony, candyass religion that soothes some women, but there's serious religion too, the kind that suits a man.

12. Get a nice car and take care of it and some day you will own a "vintage" car.

The Drill SGT said...

dbp beat me

Original George said...

It says something about America that the toughest guy in the movies is 78 years old.

Keep them dogies movin'

My true love will be waitin' at the end of my ride.

Darcy said...

Original George said...It says something about America that the toughest guy in the movies is 78 years old.

I laughed out loud when I read that. It does. Clint Eastwood is still a stud.

Nice review. I had no idea what this was about, but now I don't even really care. I'll go see it.

Dana said...

I loved the film, from beginning to end! Clint Eastwood still = Manliness, with a capital M.

I don't believe the film legitimatized racial epithets. The slurs were consistent with the time that Eastwood's character came up in and with the character's life experiences. Although cringe inducing to this boomer, it was refreshing to a see a character be consistently true to himself and fearlessly so. No keeping a third eye out for the p.c. police. Walt Kowalski will say what he thinks and when he thinks it and therefore he is disarmingly honest and direct.

I think the movie rings true because it has all the elements of a good story. Good and evil clearly defined; our hero is difficult, imperfect, offensive yet unwavering because he knows exactly who he is - and of course, knows his limitations. The conflict embodies a gross injustice as innocence is defiled. And its resolved by justice being served up in noble sacrifice - because that is Walt Kowalski.

We are a much more *delicate* people today. For all the foot-in-mouth blunders and prejudices of the Walt Kowalskis, they are a dying breed and with them some intrinsic strength and value inherent to that generation will be lost. And few of us will know those qualities in our own lives.

DBrooks17 said...

I remember a conversation among "cinema" buffs many years ago. There was general criticism of Eastwood as a one-note poser. I made the prediction that, before he was through, he would be seen as an icon along the lines of Humphrey Bogart. That seems self-evident today, but this was so long ago that my prediction was met with unanimous derision. It seems pretty prescient today. Of course, I made other such pronouncements over the years that have proven laughable.

Der Hahn said...

Speaking of bathtubs...

Clint gets in the bathtub with Meryl Streep in Bridges of Madison County.

A guy in a bathtub, but more usually bathing in a stock tank or other large water storage tank, seems to me to be a stock scene in Westerns.

The Drill SGT said...

Tough guys don't sell in Hollywood anymore.

Tough good guys don't sell in Hollywood anymore.

Tough thugs or CIA agents or tough thugish Marines still can get air time

Richard Fagin said...

Inspector Callahan in "The Enforcer" responding to a group of young, black hoodlums who offered to "take care of" his partner, played by Tyne Daly, "That's mighty white of you."

Thanks, Professor. I'm going to see it.

chickenlittle said...

Tough thugs or CIA agents or tough thugish Marines still can get air time

Robt. Downey, Jr. was pretty tough in Iron Man. He was a "wealthy capaitalist"

Dana said...

Those Hollywood yahoos have it so wrong - women love tough, especially tough that thinks!

john said...

Trooper, you want a tough guy in today's movies? Well here, take your pick.

Professor, thanks for the review. The mrs and I are heading for the cineplex tonight; we were going to see 7 Pounds (yuck) but have changed our minds in favor of the Ford.

When are you going to see Slumdog?

john said...

There is only one guy in the picture.

Ann Althouse said...

John, good call.

I've seen "Slumdog" twice.

Ann Althouse said...

If my post helps you guys get women to agree to see this movie, that will be nice.

john said...

And you havent talked about it yet? Did I miss it?



I take it you liked it.

Ron said...

Then there's The Leone Theory of Althouse commenters: We're all either Good, Bad, or Ugly.

Ron said...

And Eli Wallach calls Clint, "Blondie" also, continuing our Althouse theme!

john said...

Ron,

Some of us can be two.

Joe M. said...

Very good film. Eastwood did an excellent job executing the writer's script.

From the NYT:
Some directors are known as an actor’s best friend. Mr. Eastwood may be the writer’s. “He didn’t change a word,” Mr. Schenk said. “That never happens.”

Ron said...

Will Munny: Deserve's got nothin' to do with it.

William said...

I just saw Quantum of Solace, the new Bond flick. Daniel Craig blows up things and kills people with admirable sang froid. The plot though, as far as I could understand it, was a complete turn off. The evil mastermind plans to overthrow a leftist government in Bolivia. He wants to corner the market on Bolivian water. He uses the help of the CIA and a brutish Bolivian general to effect these ends. Don't you know that's how capitalism and American foreign policy work? Stay dirty, Harry.

Expat(ish) said...

I'm a big Eastwood fan. Not so much his historically revisionist flicks humanizing the Japanese on Iwo and demeaning the US effort there. Seperate films, same lib fest 'tude.

On the 'epithet' thing - I tend to view that as a fish/ocean thing for older people. My uncle's absolute favorite person in the whole world was a black man who saved his life in a shooting. He helped that mans sons get in to university, etc. But used the "n-word" fifty times a day his whole life and never saw a conflict there.

I had an older cousin (35+ years - big family) who lived on a farm with black sharecroppers who shared more than 50% of his DNA who never had a close white friend in his whole life. N-this, N-that all day long.

Post-reconstruction south, long may it wave.

-XC

Synova said...

I don't know that tough guys don't sell anymore (even pink ones). It seems to me that they do.

The top "sellers" of 2008 were Dark Knight , Iron Man , Indiana Jones, and Hancock.

There were a few "chick" flicks on the list but the top 25 seemed to be primarily Action, then Animated films. What's really funny is that I didn't see a single political or anti-war film on the top 25... which means that every last one of them ranked below Don't Mess with the Zohan.

Which was sort of political, I suppose, since it dealt with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Maybe if Rendition had added carp and male nudity (rear view) it would have done better.

Trooper York said...

Francis Elroy Duffy, Prisoner: Now Preacher?
The Preacher: You may say your peace now.
Francis Elroy Duffy, Prisoner: You're now looking, for the last time, at the mortal body of Francis Elroy Duffy, born to John and Edna Duffy, good, God-fearing folk. Who raised me up to be a good man and a good Christian, and I was a good Christian, a good husband to my beloved wife, good father to my children, who I leave behind, hoping that they, and all you, will learn this here lesson which I leave you with. When you take the devil into your mouth, you're doomed! For he is lying there in wait for you inside that bottle of whiskey. Waiting for you to take him into your mouth. Waiting to get down into your guts where he can do his devil's work. Liquor is the most foul, evil thing in this here world. It destroyed good men like myself. It'll destroy you too. Beer is not much better - it's slower, cheaper. So take these words of advice. And remember, you heard them from a poor sinner, got no more cause to lie, 'cause he's going to meet his Maker. Now he's ready. Well that's all I've got to say.
(Hang 'Em High, 1968)

chickenlittle said...

Trooper: Your 6:54 post reminded me of some true life dialog my older brother had with my uncle (who had seen infantry combat in Korea). They were discussing an enemy side arm weapon, still in my uncle’s possession. It went something like this:

Q. Where you get it?
A. A soldier
Q. Was he dead?
A. Yes
Q. How’d you know?
[pause]
A. I shot him.

DenisEugeneSullivan said...

Greetings:

Back in the late 70s or early 80s, I was living and working in New York City (Manhattan). A co-worker gave my sweetheart (a major Eastwood fan) and I two tickets to the Museum of Modern Art where Clint Eastwood was going to appear and show one of his comedic films of that era.

At that time in his life, Mr. Eastwood had recently divorced his wife and the mother of his children and taken up with his blond female co-star.

When we got to the showing, the thing that surprised me most was that the audience was about 75% female. Clint came out and gave his introduction and expressed his gratitude. Then the lights dimmed and the film began.

The names of the stars began to come up on the silver screen. When the blond co-star's name appeared, I couldn't help myself but to give a low, stage-whisper HISSSSSS. Immediately, the vows of sisterhood were suspended and HISSSSes filled the auditorium.

I wonder if Mr. Eastwood was also amused.

jdeeripper said...

3. The last movie I'd seen was "Doubt," so this was the second movie in a row with an important priest character.

As you get older, you're not afraid of doubt. Doubt isn't running the show. You take out all the self-agonizing.

What can they do to you after you get into your seventies?

My father had a couple of kids at the beginning of the Depression. There was not much employment. Not much welfare. People barely got by. People were tougher then.

You wonder sometimes. What will we do if something really big happens? Look how fast -- seven years -- people have been able to forget 9/11. Maybe you remember if you lost a relative or a loved one. But the public can get pretty blasé about stuff like that. Nobody got blasé about Pearl Harbor

I'm past doing one chin-up more than I did the day before. I just kind of do what I feel like.


----------------------------

Der Hahn said...Speaking of bathtubs...

Clint gets in the bathtub with Meryl Streep in Bridges of Madison County.

A guy in a bathtub, but more usually bathing in a stock tank or other large water storage tank, seems to me to be a stock scene in Westerns.


Clint is in a bathtub scene in "High Plains Drifter" when Marianna Hill's character delivers a message to him.

Christy said...

The "various lessons" sound straight out of an episode of King of the Hill.

Ron said...

Who doesn't love Tuco in the Good..., when he's in the tub and shoots the guy whose come to kill him?

Freeman Hunt said...

There are no more Lee Marvins or Charles Bronsons or even Ernie Borginines anymore.

Stop, stop. You'll make me weep. We talk about this all the time at our house.

I have been looking forward to this movie for a long time, and now today I am too tired to go. I will see it tomorrow.

LonewackoDotCom said...

When I asked for the lessons the movie was designed to teach, I meant the lessons that Althouse would miss. And, what I was thinking of specifically was a subtext that opposition to massive immigration and asylum for certain groups is racist. I'm willing to bet that was in there and it might have even been a major theme. And, I'm willing to bet there was much more in there too designed to push a certain POV.

Meade said...

Ann Althouse said...
"If my post helps you guys get women to agree to see this movie, that will be nice."

Okay. Want to have dinner with me and then see it again? I'll wear my pants. Just for you.

Michael H said...

Driving home, I was thinking: Clint Eastwood is the best Hollywood guy ever.

+1.

jdeeripper said...

Trooper York said...Tough guy actors don't sell anymore because the producers want to sell the "sensitive" guy because they are pussies.

There are no more Lee Marvins or Charles Bronsons or even Ernie Borginines anymore.


It's hard to imagine any of those men or Clint Eastwood wearing shorts.

Don't forget Lee Van Cleef, George Kennedy or William Smith.

traditionalguy said...

There is a shortage of men shown how to be men by another man. there is a good book by John Eldredge on this missing part of a boy's growth [Wild at Heart}. It is from a from a christian point of view. The strength of a man needs an initation to become a complete person and he cannot get it from his wife who is wishing he would come into manhood. Anyway, Clint Eastwood or Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis or Robert Duval have all made movies highlighting this old but good, and now missing ,American character trait.

Bob said...

One thing you should all do is go to the Gran Torino website and listen to the music that Eastwood composed in collaboration with his son Kyle and friend Michael Stevens. It's haunting and quite beautiful.

Synova said...

And now in my role as perpetual wet blanket...

Those guys are actors, dudes. They aren't the source of the manly example, the scripts are.

And yes, it's a sad sad thing; the castration of men in television and film. Of course, the way women are portrayed is pretty lame most of the time, too.

I was rather shocked when I started to watch the Highlander series on hulu.com that MacLeod was portrayed as so unapologetically un-wussified.

They even had him deal with grief in one episode by going to a skin-head bar and picking a fight.

True, the actor is gorgeous, but the character acted like a man. He was protective, domineering, made his own decisions about what needed to be done and then did it. He didn't make excuses. Alpha male.

These days a person would assume that description was of an abusive person.

He never tore another person down, promoted self-expression and professional accomplishment in everyone around him by instilling confidence rather than pushing. He put those he loved before himself. He sought counsel from his friends.

Of course he was supposed to be wise. He was 400 years old.

Maybe it was a fluke because it wasn't written that long ago, but I'd expect anything similar to have wise counsel be the function of the female lead, his girlfriend or wife (like that gawd-awful recent Mummy movie), and have the "right" decisions be non-violent ones, and have him find (with the advice of the woman) ways to avoid the various no-win choices he had to make and find a better way.

Which brings me to my second issue... and that's how women are portrayed. As much as he had confidence in his true love, she had confidence in him. Even if she worried, she believed he'd win. She didn't try to make his decisions for him. Other female characters in that show were particularly good... I liked his "cousin." No demands to know his secrets. No maidenly vapours at the sight of a gun, just faith in her own assessment of his character. Confident enough not to have to control everything around her.

Centered and human.

Ann Althouse said...

"Okay. Want to have dinner with me and then see it again? I'll wear my pants. Just for you."

Yes, but you'll have to come to Madison.

amba said...

These items are: WD-40, a vise-grip, and duct tape.

That's not new to you?? It's an old saw that all you need is two of those three. If it doesn't move and it should -- WD-40. If it shouldn't move and it does -- duct tape.

I kind of despise Clint Eastwood ever since . . . rats, now I can't remember the name of the movie. Resurrection? Redemption? Reprisal? The Western with the one-word title. That movie took the glamour of violence to a new level of hypocrisy. It was all about how awful violence is -- lots and lots of violence for you to deplore, and the hero who hated it but was really good at it, talk about Hollywood having their cake and eating it too. It started Eastwood on a streak of fashionably "dark" movies -- Mystic River, which I also hated, because it was all about pampered Hollywood guys' fascination with tragedy and depravity -- very gratuitous and voyeuristic. And then Million Dollar Baby, in which of course the heroine has to get paralyzed and commit assisted suicide.

Eastwood is a pretentious old hipster. His "manliness" is a Hollywood fantasy of manliness. I'd rather watch old John Wayne movies. Hondo. I was surprised that he was actually sexy in that.

amba said...

Oh, thanks, Trooper. Unforgiven.

chickenlittle said...

I kind of despise Clint Eastwood ever since . . .

I'm pretty sure you would have despised my uncle too Amba. He married his wife because he knocked her up-but they're still together after 55 years. He never cheated on her either (as far as I know), but he could be awfully disrespectful of women at times. He loved Harleys too. He didn't ask to go over to Korea and kill people. But in fact, his being there probably kept his brother (my father) out of combat and in Germany, so I'm grateful for that.

save_the_rustbelt said...

"A boy needs a man to teach him how to be a man."

Maybe the most important truth here.

Christy said...

Synova, I'm with you on Highlander love. Methos was my fantasy man, however.

Check out season one of "Friday Night Lights" for the best ever portrayal of a strong man with a strong wife. In my never humble opinion, some of the best writing today is for television.

amba said...

Wrong, chickenlittle. Your uncle is real and Clint Eastwood is fake. I love most of the "sexist" epithets for women and our parts; I think they're poetic.

It's not Clint's "manliness" that puts me off, it's his artsy fakeness.

Ralph said...

Wasn't Highlander set in Paris, of all places?

I didn't like Unforgiven, either. Heavy-handed preaching, as I recall.

The Rawhide singer sounds kinda gay on the long notes. Voice training cuts through the butch of the rest of the song.

The Drill SGT said...
dbp beat me

I'll gladly give you a few wacks when dbp is tired.

Freeman Hunt said...

Those guys are actors, dudes. They aren't the source of the manly example, the scripts are.

Absolutely true. But the difference is that they could act and look the part. Now everybody's a pretty boy. Or everybody stoops to pretty boy parts, ruining the illusion for other films. I don't even know how you would go about casting some of those old movies with the current crop of young actors. A very select few of today's actors can get close, but there's still no Bronson, no Marvin, no Wayne. There's this lack of fully realized masuline confidence. I think it's too bad.

Synova said...

Wasn't Highlander set in Paris, of all places?

Half the season in Paris and half in Vancouver/Seattle. I *think* it was a Canadian production... not Hollywood. (At least not at first.)

Synova said...

Non-pretty boy actors... there's got to be some. I'd have said Hugh Jackman, but he seems to have done *something* to soften his appearance. Adrian Paul (Highlander) could do it, even if he's about as pretty as pretty gets... funny thing, from the right angle he's practically a Sean Connery doppelganger. How about the guy who played Harry Dresden on Dresden Files, Paul Blackthorn? He seems able to be completely different characters without breaking a sweat.

Bruce Willis seems to do a good job.

TRundgren said...

So I guess joe Klein won't dig this flick?

Ralph said...

Willis tries, but he isn't quite a grown-up.

VariableSpin said...

I won't quibble with Clint's performance but, really, just about every other actor's performance is barely after-school-special quality.

"Toad" is especially bad. [minor spoiler]Everyone in the theater laughed when he was locked in the basement[/minor spoiler]. The performances are so wooden that they can't help but jar you from the movie's reality.

It's an ok movie but way over-hyped.

Cletus said...

I've been seeing a lot about "Unforgiven" here... maybe I missed something, but what I took from it at the end was a send up of sensationalist pop-culture (the penny-dreadful or whatever writer doing English Bob's biography) getting smacked in the face with reality and pissing it's pants. I think maybe you all need to watch it again, and pay a little more attention to what all the people say to the author and what he sees, which covers both sides of a lot of stories, none of which turn out to be what he thought they were...

traditionalguy said...

In Unforgiven there is a final scene that must have been made for El Queda to help them understand what type of people they had declared war upon: Eastwood's character Wm. Muney asks who owns the bar where his friend's body is displayed, and Muney is challenged by the town's public opinion that you don't shoot an unarmed man. His answer is that " If he's going to kill a friend of mine , then he should have armed himself", followed by Muney's shooting him dead. This shows an American Frontier tradition that kept some order in face of the hostile tribal murder culture encountered by the Men who went west.

The Crack Emcee said...

"There's this lack of fully realized masuline confidence. I think it's too bad."

Why would there be when you faggots beat it up every time you see it? If you ask me, y'all's the hypocrites.

Hey, Ann, you mentioned the "phony, candyass religion that soothes some women" - how do you think Clint Eastwood's character would've felt if he had to deal with this shit? An insane woman can hurt a man more than anything else in the world.

Clint Eastwood is the only person who's been honored by TMR twice for his masculinity. And there's a damn good reason for that.

AllenS said...

For all of the duct tape users out there, let me introduce a new product that I've been using instead of duct tape. Gorilla Tape. It's like duct tape on steroids. Way more better.

"Do you feel lucky, punk?" Classic Eastwood.

Franco said...

Unforgiven is a masterpiece. The films theme is not just anti-violence. What a shallow understanding.
Cletus and traditional guy are right. The dime-novel journalist is a central theme glorifying bad guys and ever ready to switch allegiances - so much like journalists today.

The Shofield Kid is taken in by all the mythology from dime novels, badgering Munny about how many men he killed. Munny doesn't even remember - he was drunk at the time, and doesn't associate it with anything remotely glamorous or heroic.Alcoholism is another theme. They need to drink themselves into oblivion to deal with the pain.

Women are the only redeeming force in this film, whether they be Munny's dead wife who he worships, or the whores who are the victims and catalysts of all the violence.

Women who are denied justice create a black hole of violence that the law (Gene Hackman) is powerless to stop.

None of the films characters make it to hero status, and thus the film doesn't glamorize violence.

Amba must think that violence is viral. That showing it by itself promotes it, as she implies hypocrisy of Clint showing violence to make his point.
Others, like myself know that violence is real and hiding it from each other solves nothing, and actually encourages more.

Opposites don't always negate each other. Non-violence does not negate violence. Never has and never will. Only violence can negate violence, unfortunately.

I can't wait to see Gran Torino.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Robt. Downey, Jr. was pretty tough in Iron Man. He was a "wealthy capaitalist""

You know, I almost nodded at your point, and then I realized that you were trying to claim Robert Downey, Jr. as an example of a modern American tough-guy.

traditionalguy said...

That was a very good comment Franco. I am reminded when I visit DC, the city of our monoments, that you can stand at the Marine Corp Monument over the bridge in Arlington and see back all the way up the Mall to our other monuments to heroic Presidents and up to Capitol Hill. I then realize that if the USMC moniment was not there, then neither would all those other monuments have been possible. Semper Fi Franco.

Deb said...

If my post helps you guys get women to agree to see this movie, that will be nice.
Are you kidding. I don't need convincing. Clint Eastwood ... nekkid... in a bathtub? Say no more.

Deb said...

If my post helps you guys get women to agree to see this movie, that will be nice.
Are you kidding. I don't need convincing. Clint Eastwood ... nekkid... in a bathtub? Say no more.

The Drill SGT said...

I then realize that if the USMC moniment was not there, then neither would all those other monuments have been possible. Semper Fi Franco.

As a soldier, I'll take a minor quibble with that comment and raise you:

I then realize that if the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" Monument was not there, then neither would all those other monuments have been possible.

"Freedom isn't Free"

http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/051215-F-3050V-227.jpg

Gunboy 3 said...

Bob has a good point about the Eastwood character not using the "N" word when facing down those poor downtrodden victims of slavery. Modern cinematic rules call for punishment of whites who use it. Sad but true. The only exception I can recall is the Tarantino character in Pulp fiction; he used it several times and wasn't beaten up for it.
On the movie as a whole, I thought it was o.k. Glad so many liked it though

The Crack Emcee said...

Gunboy3,

That's why I specifically linked to a post where I use it:

Screw PC.

I know it's not the same thing (because I'm black) but I don't like what's happened to us - to Don Imus, specifically - and wonder if we'll ever get it back.

Y'all stay up: you're not a bad crowd.

Kim said...

I'll be seeing this in the next couple of days. I am so sorry my dad died in 2000, because he loved Dirty Harry and I have a feeling Gran Torino would have made his day.

I'm not even an Eastwood fan! Never saw any of his movies. Nada. But I knew the minute I saw the trailer for Gran Torino that I was going to see it.

I'll just pretend Dad is in the next seat....

cottus said...

It is a riveting movie, there is no doubt. Well worth seeing - the theater was full when I went. But do not kid yourself. "Dirty Harry" it is not. The ending must leave the viewer unsatisfied on several levels.

I would definitely agree with the comment

"It says something about America that the toughest guy in the movies is 78 years old."

And when that generation is gone, there will be no more tough guys in the movies or anywhere else in American life....tough enough guys.

I expected more from "Dirty Harry".

Orolo said...

Trooper,

"You have to face the music.

You are just an old fashioned girl.

And you a commie liberal law professor. You should be ashamed of yourself."

Here's some music for you to face:

Communism, the Law, and the Academy are all themselves old-fashioned at this point.

And Communism is Illiberal.

jkmack said...

The lessons taught by this movie is that you don't judge a person by talk, but by actions.

When you see a need, you step in and fill the need, unasked, unrewarded. Filling the need provides intrinsic reward.

fboness said...

"It says something about America that the toughest guy in the movies is 78 years old."

It's the tough who get old.

As to what sells in Hollywood, these days it's Hollywood that doesn't sell.

Charlie said...

Years back, the family was driving into Monterey along with an Australian friend whose fondest wish was to catch a glimpse of Clint Eastwood.

At one stop sign, our middle son, then five, cried out from the backseat, "There he is! There he is!"

We all looked eagerly where he was pointing only to see a very disheveled and hirsute homeless guy.

"See," he explained proudly, "He's dirty and he's hairy."

Charlie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

Bruce Willis seems to do a good job.

Definitely, but that's what I mean. Look at our action stars: Willis is 53. Stallone is 62. Schwarzenegger is 61. Where are the young guys who can take their places? They don't exist.

mockmook said...

"And when that generation is gone, there will be no more tough guys in the movies or anywhere else in American life....tough enough guys."

Yeah, for example, those guys in Iraq and Afghanistan are pussies /rolls eyes

knox said...

The guys who could do it like James Remar and Robert Davi are in second class villian roles.

Love Davi, glad you brought him up.

And Freeman, don't forget Daniel Craig. We can only hope there's some hidden tough guys like him who we just don't know about yet.

knox said...

Can't WAIT to see this, by the way, I have been looking forward to it for a long time.

Ralph said...

Vin Diesel? Maybe not.

I was conceived in Carmel, long before Eastwood lived there, but born in Norfolk, but I really don't remember.

Brian said...

My buddy and I saw it last night and thought it was terrific. Really, who else but Eastwood could have played that role and played it to such brilliance?

The Hmong actors seemed to try hard but let's be honest here. How could they have possibly looked any good next to Clint? No one could have.

One thing, about the "spook" comment above. I hadn't really thought about it until I read that comment but I can tell you my grandfather was a huge racist and yet I never heard him use the "n" word, not once. I heard him use "spook" many times, along with a few others I prefer to forget. I think an older racist would have never called them the "n" word.

In the end, there were some good life lessons in the movie and as you saw, in the end the old crusty American racist came to respect the immigrants when he saw they weren't much different than his generation and the one before, he came here and worked hard.

chickenlittle said...

It's not Clint's "manliness" that puts me off, it's his artsy fakeness.

Fake, but accurate.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
knox said...

It's like Woody Allen making himself the sex object in his movies.

LOL! Well, and why shouldn't a true narcissist cast himself in a romantic lead? He deserves it!

knox said...

OK, a big one we are forgetting about is Russell Crowe.

He was excellent in Master and Commander and just the type of tough guy we are all craving (in more ways than one, for some of us) as Bud White in LA Confidential.

Ralph said...

I think an older racist would have never called them the "n" word.
It wasn't nearly as inflamatory before the 60's. My grandmother said it was just as well her b-i-l died in '64, because he never used anything but it.

TJL said...

He's right about the WD-40, Vise-Grip and duct tape, except the percentage is closer to 90% and you don't really need the WD-40 and Vise-Grips.

Freeman Hunt said...

Another reason that actors like Bronson and Marvin seem tougher than today's stock is that they actually were tougher. Bronson had an impoverished childhood and started working in a coal mine by the time he was sixteen. Marvin was a Marine. Even a guy like Wayne had a lot of stunt work, which is hard, under his belt.

As for the tough guy actors today... not so much...

Also note that the possible tough guys mentioned multiple times, Crowe and Craig, aren't Americans. That's fine and makes no difference to those of us watching their films, but it does make you wonder where all the tough guys went in this huge country of ours.

And I think Troop is right that we don't allow for the ugly tough guys anymore. Think Bronson would be cast as a leading man now? Not a chance.

The Crack Emcee said...

Two things:

1) I agree with the suggestion of Russell Crowe - he's got it.

2) Please stop saying "the 'n' word." I cringe every time you guys go there. Just fucking talk, and preferably not like a 5-year old.

Now that I think about it, I'll tell you guys a story:

One day, when I was in the Navy, a friend and I went AWOL because he was from a family of carneys who rolled into town. When we arrived at his family's trailor, his old man opens the door, sees me, and says, "I don't like niggers, but you're with Mike, so you're O.K.."

Now, at that time, I wasn't as worldly as I am now, so I was kind of put-off by this guy - and wondered what my friend had gotten me into. His father and I silently circled each other for the rest of the day, growling and sniffing each other out like a couple of pitbulls (he put me to work in a booth with my friend).

Long story short: by the end of the evening, he and I were sitting in lawn chairs, drinking PBRs and laughing our asses off - asking each other honest questions and trading stories - having one of the coolest cultural exchanges I'd ever had up 'till that point. A real "deep and meaningful" because we weren't scared.

My point: don't be scared. Nobody's gonna break - we all just want to be accepted for who we are - and getting to the truth of that can't be done by hiding.

I haven't seen Gran Torino, yet, but I hear there's a bit of that lesson in there too.

The Crack Emcee said...

Freeman Hunt,

I'm a former-foster child, which might have something to do with it.

davis,br said...

Umm ...there's no such usage as "a vice-grip" Ann. Out here in mantoolsland, we never, ever say "pass me a vice-grip". We say "pass me the vice-grips".

Q. What's that (points)?
A. Vice-grips.

...which tool - to the rest of you - is a locking pair of pliers (in this case, that doesn't mean "two" pliers; one pair of pliers is always called a "pair" of pliers ...it's part of the mystique: deal with it). Just like "vice-grips" doesn't - necessarily - mean two vice-grips. Singular or plural, they're called vice-gripS.

And - surprisingly - Eastwood got it right. A toolbox needs WD40, duct tape (pronounced "duck-tape"), and vice-grips ...and you're good to go.

AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
knox said...

Yes, but you'll have to come to Madison.

Meade, this is HUGE! Meade....?

He must be packing.

amba said...

Amba must think that violence is viral. That showing it by itself promotes it

I'm not necessarily opposed to violence. I'm opposed to dishonesty.

I thought Unforgiven was fake-honest. "Dark," in that Hollywood way that's fake-dark. It's just a more sophisticated twist on the penny dreadful, packaging gritty "real life" for the envious, voyeuristic, nostalgic urban wusses.

Either you're being taken in, or I'm full of shit. But I live with a man (capital M) who escaped from a Soviet prison camp. It has made it hard for me to stomach the glamorization of the sordid and desperate. Eastwood has specialized in that lately.

Sorry to rain on your icon.

amba said...

By the way, I'll take Russell Crowe. Maybe you have to be an Aussie.

amba said...

Also, I liked the Dirty Harry movies and still do. Also the spaghetti Western trilogy.

amba said...

And, thought Casino Royale was pretty damn good.

OT for a minute (tough women instead of tough men): I thought Judi Dench was amazingly attractive (I'm not a guy, what do I know). And it was so obvious that her character M not only loved Bond, but identified with him. At the same time as she was ruthlessly ready to sacrifice him. Fascinating character.

mdgiles said...

I think many are missing the point about "Unforgiven". William Munny is a killer - but then so is Little Bill. The difference is that Munny has drank himself into alcoholism to forget his killings, whereas Little Bill continues his - with a smile on his face and the assumption that his badge makes it alright. His comment about his not deserving his fate - after he beat an innocent man to death - shows that he may well be worse then Munny.

amba said...

mdg: you're making me want to see it again and reconsider.

Synova said...

I think you're right about Judi Dench as M, Amba.

The Drill SGT said...

duct tape (pronounced "duck-tape"), and vice-grips ...and you're good to go.

Another tool story for the effete.

In WWII, Johnson and Johnson was asked to make a waterproof tape to seal ammo cans. They came up with a tape that was so good that it sealed like "water would run off a duck's bacK". hence the name Duck tape.

After WWII J&J sold it to civilians and the name became duct tape.

In Vietnam, we had a lot of huey helicopters, and the rotor blades were laminated wood (e.g. very high quality plywood). Anyway, in the heat and humidity, those blades "delaminated" which could be exciting if done in flight. To keep birds in the air, blades that were starting to split were wrapped with "hundred mile an hour" (e.g green duck tape) which was strong enough to handle flight operations.

great stuff for patching bullet holes as well :)

The Drill SGT said...

Katherine Hepburn was a tough yet feminine woman. Rosie Sayer in African Queen and Eleanor of Aquitaine in Lion in Winter come to mind.

another strong, tough yet soft woman I love is Patricia Clarkson

Dave said...

Liam Neeson. (Also, not an American.)

As for Unforgiven:
First, I went to see it with a bunch of grad school friends. As we left, the common feeling was "a great movie, and I'm not sure I ever want to watch it again." Well, we were Poli Sci students, so perhaps we're wussies.

Second, some years late I taught a class in "Politics and Communication" in which a student compared the attitude of/toward local govt (in the form of the law officers in the town) in the movies "High Noon" "Shane" "High Plains Drifter" and "Unforgiven".

She did a great job of showing that "High Noon" had the sheriff as a Platonic Guardian, "Shane" was an outside warrior who had to do the sheriff's job for him since the sheriff was dominated by the oligarchs, "High Plains Drifter" a Shane-like character (without the actual character) replaces a sheriff killed by the demos (mob), and in "Unforgiven" the bad guy *is* the sheriff.

The progression of Sheriff as noble protector to sheriff as manipulated underling to sheriff as victim of human rapaciousness to sheriff as predator is quite striking.

I'm not sure I bought her conclusion that these movies tended to mirror American beliefs about local law and order, but it was a very interesting paper.

Dave said...

Oh. About "the N-word" (and I tend to agree that euphemising the actual word has its own problems).

As I recall the '50s and '60s in my area of the Midwest, the word was rarely if ever used. Instead, words like "spook" and "shade" and "spade" and so on were. The "N-word" as I remember it only became widely used after the Civil Rights marches became widely publicized.

Maybe I'm remembering wrongly, but the "N-word" was apparently associated more with Southerners and Southern transplants (like both blacks and whites who migrated north to work in factories) than others in the US.

It might be interesting to see what words were used in movies from, say, 1940 to 1980 as the slur on blacks.

Just my two cents and memory.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LonewackoDotCom said...

Brian writes: In the end, there were some good life lessons in the movie and as you saw, in the end the old crusty American racist came to respect the immigrants when he saw they weren't much different than his generation and the one before, he came here and worked hard.

And, that logical fallacy flew right over your head, Althouse's head, and the heads of all the others who were exposed to something designed to push an agenda while also making money.

Next time, try thinking and try to avoid being a useful idiot.

Skyler said...

I saw this movie, and I like your review of it.

Just one thing that confuses me. I'm not sure, but you seem to be implying that young girls being naked is somehow NOT the best part of a movie. I'm very confused. What did you really mean, Ann?

Kirk Parker said...

Ron,

When you have to link, link! Don't write.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm not sure, but you seem to be implying that young girls being naked is somehow NOT the best part of a movie."

My specific complaint is that it's a cliché -- and it's a cliché that exists because of the denial of the very real and human interest in seeing beautiful people naked.

Nichevo said...

More tough guys:

Clive Owen? Something there.

Ricardo Montalban (RIP)

BTW - Bogie - a very privileged upbringing, IIRC. You don't have to be a dockworker to play a dockworker.

fcai said...

Grip your own vice. They are vise grips.

Ann Althouse said...

???

I wrote "vise" not "vice."