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Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1977

Directed by
Clint Eastwood

Written by
Michael Butler
Dennis Shryack

Starring
Clint Eastwood
Sondra Locke
William Prince
Pat Hingle


The Gauntlet


Plot – Phoenix Metro cop Ben Shockley (Eastwood) is given a special assignment by Commissioner Blakelock (Prince); go to Las Vegas and retrieve prostitute Gus Mally (Locke), a “nothing witness for a noting trial.” Except this 'nothing witness' has the mob out to stop her making it back to Phoenix; and as it turns out when Shockley tries to recruit police help the police are also out to stop them. With no one to trust the previously feuding couple realise they only have each other, and unless they start trusting each other they will have no chance of making it to Phoenix in one piece.

Well my 70s thriller season really is certainly morphing into a Clint Eastwood season! This is a grubby and fairly trashy little flick which also happens to be really quite good fun. From the growing number of films of his I've now seen I'd say this is quite firmly in 'classic' Eastwood territory; it's action packed, fast-paced and darkly and crudely funny. Its story is fairly absurd and ludicrous at points but it's all done with such a gleeful and ferocious energy that it's easy to forgive it, and even enjoy it for those reasons. Though sadly it's nowhere near as awesome as that first movie poster would have you think!

This certainly isn't mentally challenging fare. Along with some fairly obvious and telegraphed twists, at times the script seems to exist solely as a means of moving us along to the next action set-piece. And in that respect the film is a success. Indeed merely as a result of its action sequences this film could lay as much, if not even more of a claim to the title Planes, Trains & Automobiles than the John Hughes classic that owns it. We have escapes in ambulances, gunfights in speeding cars, a helicopter attack, a fight onboard a train, a motorcycle escape through mountains and for its finale we are given an armoured bus running a police gauntlet through the city of Phoenix as hundreds of police officers fire a seemingly endless barrage of bullets.

Film trivia - This film could have looked so very, very different. Originally cast in the main roles were Steve McQueen and Barbra Streisand; they however did not get along and both backed out. Eastwood and Locke then stepped in.
It was very interesting watching this film right after Coogan's Bluff. At the end of his multi Oscar winning epic Unforgiven there is a message that reads 'To Sergio and Don', referring to Sergio Leone and Don Siegel; two men who worked extensively with Eastwood and helped to define him as an actor, a movie star and a director. And here it's quite clear to see quite a bit of Siegel's influence on his Eastwood's directing style. There is a real sharing of tone and camera shots between the films, and the close-up frenetic way that Eastwood stages a fight on a train echoes his bar brawl in Coogan's Bluff. Despite this attention to action and the films aesthetic both men still remember to take the time to concentrate on the characters at their disposal.

While it's far from an original concept I greatly enjoyed the relationship dynamic that develops between Eastwood's cop and Sondra Locke's hooker, and the verbal sparring matches that result from their time together. We know from their first fraught meeting that eventually tensions will mellow and they will fall for each other, but it doesn't make it any less of an enjoyable journey getting there. The relationship that develops between them is nicely paced, and as a result it feels fairly natural as opposed to forced or manufactured when they start to develop a respect and admiration for each other. And that's just helped along by the strong showings of Eastwood and Locke. Locke in particular is quite a hoot as Mally. She's not quite your typical movie hooker (the one with a heart of gold); she's an intelligent well educated woman who also happens to have a crass manner, delight in crude humour and is more than proficient when it comes to foul mouthed insults. If anything she rather overpowers Clint in the macho stakes!

Film trivia - Both Walter Hill and Sam Peckinpah had an interest in directing this film, and both also wanted Kris Kristofferson for the lead role. In the end Peckinpah and Kristofferson instead made 1978's Convoy. Opposite Kristofferson was Ali MacGraw, whom Peckinpaw had also been considering for The Gauntlet in the role of hooker Gus Mally.
It's nice to once again see a strong female character opposite Clint. I don't know if it's just coincidence or if it's something he actively looked for/pushed for when it came to choosing roles but it's something I've noticed quite a few times. In Tightrope there was Genevieve Bujold's strong rape counsellor who challenged Clint; in The Enforcer there was Tyne Daly's police officer who partnered Harry Callahan who was strong, intelligent and was more than a match for him. And here it's Locke's Gus Mally. The characters all provide a really nice, and surprising, balance to Eastwood's gruff, macho individual who could so easily dominte proceedings. They are not there merely as someone for Clint to bounce off of and win their affections.

Something else that I admire about Eastwood, and indeed have been surprised by, is his willingness to take on flawed characters, and not just the 'cool' type of flawed (ie. too violent and anti-authority - Harry Callahan). In Tightrope his character was a good cop but with a pretty f**ked up personal life of sexual deviancy; in Play Misty for Me he was a bit of a scummy, reprehensible guy who brought much of the trouble upon himself. And here he is a bit of a bumbling cop who has beer bottles falling out of his car when he opens his car door. Indeed it's his ineptitude that sees his character chosen for this particular job. I just assumed he would always be the really tough, strong macho type in his films so have enjoyed the fact that's not always the case.

Conclusion – The charismatic pairing of Eastwood and Locke, entertaining dialogue and it's delightfully furious action means the film is a lot of fun, probably more than it should be.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
That review of The Gauntlet has taken me to another landmark, my 75th review! After taking a little over 13 months to reach 50 reviews, I've done the next 25 in just under 2 months!

And I think I'm slowly closing the gap on you Rodent! Just give me another couple of years and I might be right alongside you!



Wow, 75 reviews... I remember those days

Not seen Gauntlet for aaages. Need to get my hands on a copy methinks.
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Originally Posted by doubledenim
Garbage bag people fighting hippy love babies.

Bots gotta be bottin'



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Wow, 75 reviews... I remember those days
Oh so we're bringing trash talk into it now are we? Well you may be ahead of me in terms of numbers but even you have to admit you're getting your ass kicked when it comes to the quality! It's all about quality over quantity!

And just to let you know in the time between my 50th and 75th review I've posted 4 more reviews than you (it was 5 but then you posted Legend), so like I said give me a couple of years and I'll be breathing down your neck!!!



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Well I knew my 50th review was the terrific Save the Green Planet so went to that and saw the date was June 9th. All I then had to do was go to your thread for the 9th of June and yours is easy to work out as you number all of them. And yes I am that sad and obsessive!


Oh and as a little preview we have yet another Eastwood film coming up next. Actually the next two reviews at least will both be films of Clint.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1974

Written by
Michael Cimino

Directed by
Michael Cimino

Starring
Clint Eastwood
Jeff Bridges
George Kennedy
Geoffrey Lewis


Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

++

Plot - A chance encounter brings about the meeting of an old bank robber in hiding, Thunderbolt (Eastwood), and a flippant young kid by the name of Lightfoot (Bridges). The two men form a quick bond and decide to hang out together. Constantly on their trails are two former partners of Thunderbolt. Turns out that seven years ago they committed a daring bank robbery but where unable to enjoy their accomplishment, leaving the money hidden in an old school house. Unfortunately the school is no longer around. To try and make up for the loss the four men put aside their differences and plan to rob the exact same bank again

An offbeat little film this. It's a fairly simple little story which is half buddy road movie, and half heist caper movie. It's a highly enjoyable buddy relationship/bromance between Eastwood and Bridges as the film tackles the themes of male bonding and honour among thieves.

Jeff Bridges is just terrific here as Lightfoot; his carefree, swaggering and quipping scoundrel evoking other creations such as Captain Jack Sparrow. The characters enthusiasm is truly infectious and the terrific chemistry he shares with Eastwood feels like it could have inspired many a buddy pic down the road. Eastwood actually gives quite a restrained and quiet performance by his standards, allowing Bridges to steal the limelight and the film. His showing actually felt quite Walter Matthau in style; imbuing his character with a world-weary and hangdog quality, complete with dry, laconic delivery that contrasts beautifully with Bridges' larger than life showing.

Film trivia – Michael Cimino modelled the film after his favourite film from the 1950s – 1955's Captain Lightfoot. That film followed the adventures of two Irish highwaymen, Captain Thunderbolt and Captain Lightfoot, and their attempts to raise money to support their Irish revolutionary society.
Alongside them in the roles of their partners in crime both George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis give nice support with really fun showings with their really quite disparate characters. And the rest of the cast is mostly made up of a series of colourful oddballs who just pop up every so often, the most memorable certainly being Bill McKinney's crazed car driver, but more on him later. There is also a minor role for a young Gary Busey.

The beautiful photography of Frank Stanley makes excellent use of the film's location shooing in Great Falls, Montana. With its immense, sweeping nature it creates the sense of desolation and isolation that seems to permeate the characters on show. Though with Michael Cimino taking quite a lot of time to admire the scenery the pace does feel a touch slow, giving the film the feel of being a touch meandering at times. However the banter between Eastwood and Bridges keeps it immensely likeable throughout..

The film's characters and humour often take on quite a goofy and cartoonish vibe, for me evoking a touch of the Coen brothers style of humour as seen in Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art Thou, Hudsucker Proxy etc. The two partners who join Eastwood and Bridges in particular are a bit cartoon-like in their creation. Eddie Goody is a rather gentle, really bumbling, nervous simpleton while Red Leary may be a tough, vicious guy but is affected by asthma and hay fever which results in the running joke of him constantly suffering from these allergies and sneezing. And then there are little touches throughout which just add to the offbeat and weird nature of the film; the main surely being the moment where Thunderbolt and Lightfoot receive a lift while hitch-hiking from a redneck who is clearly out of his mind. After the inevitable crash they open the truck's trunk to find it full of rabbits! No don't ask me, I've no idea either!

Film trivia – Michael Cimino was given the opportunity to write and direct this film after impressing Eastwood with a rewrite he performed on the script for 1973's Magnum Force. Cimino later said that if it hadn't been for Eastwood, he would never have had a career in the film business. I get the feeling the backers of Heaven's Gate would not exactly be distraught about that prospect!
While there is a fairly breezy, free spirited tone throughout the film there is also a rather elegiac tone running in the veins of the film. And that undertone is born out by a downbeat finale which I found to be genuinely sad and touching. And I may be looking into things too much but I wonder if there is a touch of a Vietnam inspiration in the story. Both Thunderbolt and Leary are ex Korean War heroes and represent the older generation, while Lightfoot is from the aimless younger generation, born out of the hippie movement and the feelings stirred up by Vietnam of the 60s and 70s. And Lightfoot and Leary greatly clash with their different outlooks. And even the ending perhaps mirrors the outcome to Vietnam were a lot of young men died for no damn good reason.

Conclusion – So as I said at the start it's really quite a simple story but is populated with interesting characters which are brought to life by a series of winning performances. All resulting in a highly enjoyable, if slightly quirky film.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1992

Directed by
Clint Eastwood

Written by
David Webb Peoples

Starring
Clint Eastwood
Gene Hackman
Morgan Freeman
Jaimz Woolvett
Richard Harris


Unforgiven



Oscar Wins: Best Picture / Best Director - Clint Eastwood / Best Supporting Actor - Gene Hackman / Best Film Editing
Oscar Nominations: Best Actor - Clint Eastwood / Best Art Direction / Best Cinematography / Best Writing / Best Original Screenplay

Plot – At a whorehouse in the town of Big Whiskey two cowboys cut up one of the girls. When they are unsatisfied with the 'punishment' that the sheriff, Little Bill, dishes out to the cowboys the girls take things into their own hands, placing a bounty on the heads of the cowboys responsible. The bounty grabs the attention of a youngster who goes by the name of The Schofield Kid (Woolvett). Looking for a partner he visits retired gunman and killer William Munny (Eastwood) with the offer of joining him. Despite promising his late wife he would never return to that life Munny is struggling financially and feels he has no need but to take on the task, bringing his old partner Ned (Freeman) into the fold. They may be out to grab the bounty, but there is one man out to make sure that no-one does – Big Whiskey's sheriff Little Bill (Hackman).


“And there is only one guarantee; none of us will see heaven”

Though a line from the 2002 film Road to Perdition it could so easily apply here. If you're looking for a hero, you've come to the wrong place. Pretty much every character here is guilty, whether it be due to deeds in the present or in their past. The killers are vicious, and the sheriff is even worse! It's certainly not your daddy's western of 'cool' lone wolf anti-heroes, valiant sheriffs and stylistic, righteous killings. There is no romanticizing or mythologising of the Old West to be found here. As an example of how that kind of thinking came to be we have Saul Rubinek's writer who is travelling with English Bob, acting as his biographer. He is one of those men who have taken criminals and killers and turned them into somewhat mythic legends; people along the lines of Jesse James.

It really is quite a merciless deconstruction of the genre, and considering its source it's quite surprising. For someone who made his name with the genre it seems strange that Clint would want to be the one to expose its faults. Perhaps he had a sense of guilt about the previous depictions he had been involved with in terms of the films he made and the characters he portrayed. Here he tosses aside any pretensions of glitz and glamour, showing the western conventions for the illusions that they are. He shows that there is nothing noble or heroic to be found in this world.

Film trivia - While it may have been nominated for an Oscar, David Webb People's script was far from a hot property in Hollywood. It floated around for nearly 20 years, during which Gene Hackman read and rejected it, before Eastwood scooped it up. Even then it took Clint several years to actually bother reading it after his script reader had informed him that it wasn't very good.
The basic premise itself is not exactly groundbreaking. After all, the idea of someone coming out of retirement, taking on 'one last job' is one of the more clichéd tales in Hollywood circles; but that's not why this film is so highly regarded and loved. A lot of it is down to the characters that inhabit this world. Instead of the thinly sketched stereotypes that inhabit many a film, particularly the western, these are characters of depth who have real arcs; we see their progression, or should that be regression. The script is also full of some great dialogue, much of which helps to create great conversations and relationships between the characters.

The performances are excellent across the board, though a large degree of that I felt was down to the film's spot-on casting. For much of the film the characters and performances are the kind that these men have played many times before; it's just that here they excel themselves and ace their craft. Eastwood is terrific as Munny; a tremendously grizzled, pained performance. He convinces fully as this former criminal who is now worn down both physically and emotionally. Struggling to keep the promises he made to his late wife he is a man finding it impossible to escape from his past, whether it be down to the hero worship The Kid thrusts upon him or from the images that haunt his own mind. The most powerful and imposing performance I'd have to say however comes from Gene Hackman. As Big Whiskey's sheriff Little Bill, Hackman seems to take it on with relish, strutting around with a snarl and a sociopathic disposition. I found his character to be really quite terrifying, more so than any of the outlaws he fights against. While for the most part they are open and honest about who they are and what they do, Little Bill works under the impression that he is doing righteous, honourable work. And there's not much scarier a prospect than a man who can commit evil deeds but believe that they are in the right.

As 'The Kid' Jaimz Woolvett is incredibly annoying, but as that's what he is meant to be he has absolutely nailed it. His brash arrogance and lies just make you wish Munny and Ned would slap him around a little. But then after he accomplishes what he set out to do we see his true colours revealed. The guilt of what he has done has an immediate effect and Woolvett's acting here is extremely affecting. And as for Morgan Freeman, well he's Morgan f**king Freeman!!! You pretty much know what you're always getting with Freeman; it's very rare that I've ever seen a performance of his that left me unimpressed. Indeed the whole cast, no matter the size of the role, deliver the goods. Richard Harris is great as the snide, slimy English Bob; as Strawberry Alice Frances Fisher gives a tough as nails, vengeful showing and as the scarred Delilah, Anna Thomson is beautifully sensitive and sympathetic.

Film trivia – Just because you're a family member don't expect any special treatment from Clint! His own mother had to toil through an uncomfortable day as an extra while wearing a very heavy dress. And the scene didn't even make it into the film! With Clint left to apologise for having to cut it. He did however make it up to her when he took her to the Academy Awards and then gave her substantial thanks in his acceptance speech.
From the film's opening shot of Munny burying his wife against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset the film is frequently beautiful to look at as Eastwood and cinematographer Jack Green capture the landscape's immense vistas in beautiful snapshots. Alongside this however is how well realised the film's locations are; from Munny's house to the town of Big Whiskey they overflow with a weathered character, appearing as if they have stood for hundreds of years. And this is further fleshed out by the script which doesn't just focus solely on Eastwood's Munny, but creates a whole community of characters to interest and entertain us. My exposure to the western is still fairly limited so I may be mistaken but it seemed like the constant fall of rain was a bit of a break from the norm. Reminding me of my recent viewing of Rashomon it's more something I'd associate with the film noir genre in helping to create such a bleak, foreboding tone for the action.

There is not actually as much action as you may expect; well at least there wasn't as much action as I was expecting. For the most part it's a much quieter, meditative film only interrupted by the occasional violent and visceral burst, such as Little Bill's brutal beatdown of English Bob. And then there is the shootout at the film's conclusion. While it would usually be a source of great thrills, the way the scene is shot and its context within the story means it's actually quite a grubby affair. We feel a great sense of disappointment and sadness at watching Munny resort to his old ways, at allowing the monster within to break back to the surface. And I absolutely loved the aftermath of the shootout. Riding out onto the streets Munny warns that anyone who shoots at him shall feel his wrath. Despite numerous men having the opportunity, no one does. They are in so much fear at his presence. It's as if Munny has reached a somewhat mythic level, like an invincible demon that no one dares shoot at for they know they cannot hurt this man.

Film trivia – Unforgiven was just the third western film to ever win the Academy Award, following Dances With Wolves and Cimarron.
The western is a genre that I'm still struggling to find a genuine affinity for. There have been a couple I've loved (Dances With Wolves, Little Big Man) and a couple I've liked (the original 3:10 to Yuma, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) but for the most part it's not really worked for me, including those regarded as classics of the genre such as The Searchers. This would definitely join Dances With Wolves and Little Big Man as one of my favourites.

Conclusion – It's story may not be particularly original but the acting, directing and writing within its confines produce a classic, and truly enthralling western.



Good whiskey make jackrabbit slap de bear.
Still waiting for your 5/5 review of Under Siege .
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"George, this is a little too much for me. Escaped convicts, fugitive sex... I've got a cockfight to focus on."



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Oh one thing I wondered about Unforgiven, perhaps someone here can answer it. Either someone with greater knowledge of the film, or just American history in general.

I was surprised there was no reference to the colour of Ned's skin in the film, at least no overt reference (I thought maybe part of The Kid's initial dislike and distrust of Ned may have been down to him being black). Did the film just choose to gloss over it as it wasn't an important element of the film? Or would it not have been a big deal in that place or time?


Still waiting for your 5/5 review of Under Siege .


For goodness sake! You're looking for Under Siege, Prestige wanted The Driver and Rodent recently challenged me to take on a 5 movie Arnold Schwarzenegger marathon. Give me peace! Start contributing and leaving feedback for my reviews and I'll consider it!



The Kid is just a wannabe tough guy and takes a dislike to the unwanted third man just to look tough.

Like when Ned picks up The Kid's rifle, he says "Get you godd*mn hands off my rifle mister"
There's no reference to his skin colour.

I think in the old west, skin colour wasn't really much of a thing unless you were an Injun or a Mexican.

The movie probably did gloss over it as well to an extent.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
The Kid is just a wannabe tough guy and takes a dislike to the unwanted third man just to look tough.
Yeah I can see that, I just wondered at first whether there was an underlying racial element to his attitude.



Good whiskey make jackrabbit slap de bear.



For goodness sake! You're looking for Under Siege, Prestige wanted The Driver and Rodent recently challenged me to take on a 5 movie Arnold Schwarzenegger marathon. Give me peace! Start contributing and leaving feedback for my reviews and I'll consider it!


Unforgiven is a great movie, by the way. Like you, I'm not the biggest fan of Westerns, but Unforgiven has got to be one of the best, along with Dances With Wolves and The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.



Really really? Top film, needs to be seen by everyone in the universe.

Alex, if you stay here they're gonna kill ya. And then I'm gonna have to to go 'round an' kill all the guys who killed you...

... now that's a lotta killin'







Good whiskey make jackrabbit slap de bear.
My uncle keeps recommending it to me, it's one of his favourites as well, along with The Shawshank Redemption and The Boondock Saints.



Young Guns











Sorry I haven't been commenting much, JD. 70s thrillers aren't really my thing, although I have been intrigued with a couple you've reviewed recently so I'll have to see if I can get my hands on them, and of course I've had Unforgiven on my watchlist forever.

If you're up for taking a break I recently saw Kar Wai Wong's In the Mood for Love and wasn't as enamored as a lot of people seem to be. I'd love to hear your take on it.

Great to see this thread in the member reviews section too, it's about time!
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Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Just shows you, everytime I'm feeling down on this and considering throwing in the towel I get a little burst of rep and input. Just after the amount of work I'd put into Unforgiven especially I was little peeved about the lack of rep and reaction. I know I shouldn't but it's just the messed up way that I am, I severely lack in self confidence and need to be loved!

Not seen Young Guns yet, but got it on DVD. Had actually looked it out a week or two ago but went with an Eastwood flick instead. Should still be kicking about somewhere.


Sorry I haven't been commenting much, JD. 70s thrillers aren't really my thing, although I have been intrigued with a couple you've reviewed recently so I'll have to see if I can get my hands on them, and of course I've had Unforgiven on my watchlist forever.
Oh I see, was wondering were you were hiding. Out of interest what couple caught your eye? I'm guessing not Magic with the creepy doll!

If you're up for taking a break I recently saw Kar Wai Wong's In the Mood for Love and wasn't as enamored as a lot of people seem to be. I'd love to hear your take on it.
I suppose I should return to something more artistic at some point. I think I may have that film kicking about somewhere, taped from TV. Will have a look.

Great to see this thread in the member reviews section too, it's about time!
Thanks mate.