If I asked who amongst us had never
sampled a Coca Cola, the answer would be the same as if I'd
asked who had never seen a Clint Eastwood movie.
While I wouldn't call myself a diehard
Clint fan, I have seen all his spaghetti westerns, his Dirty
Harry movies, and most of the recent work he's done after
Unforgiven was released in 1993.
Clint's post-Unforgiven career marked a
significant rise up the food chain from the majority of
turkeys he appeared in throughout the 1980's and early
press and his fans presently feel he can do no wrong.
His movie, Gran Torino, the last
Eastwood claims he'll ever appear in as an actor, was the
most successful opening of any Clint Eastwood movie ever.
Not bad for a man pushing 80.
Gran Torino seems to have its
heart in the right place. It's about a septuagenarian
Asian-hating Korean war veteran who befriends a young Hmong
trying to steal his 1972 Gran Torino, but it's not a great
movie, even if Clint-lovers seem to feel differently.
On IMDB, Gran Torino, as of this writing, is
ranked 89th by voters, ahead of Eastwood's Oscar winning
Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.
sure even Clint himself would agree Gran Torino
doesn't deserve, on its merits, to be in IMDB's top 250 list
of all films ever made or at least higher ranked than two of
his Academy Award generating films.
Gran Torino's script could've used a polish
and the supporting actors, mostly Hmongs with no prior
acting experience, are terrible.
Clint handicapped himself by trying to hire real
Hmongs. The pool of talented Hmong thespians who speak
fluent English would fit into the backseat of my car.
It's called acting for a reason.
Either the script could've been rewritten to involve
some other Asian ethnic group for which talented actors were
available or else the Hmong element could've remained but
with others Asians playing those Hmongs.
Hollywood has Koreans play Japanese or Serbs play
Russians all the time.
The unconvincing acting among the youth
of Gran Torino stood out all the more when the
following day, I watched Slumdog Millionaire and saw
the younger kids in that movie run laps around the Torino
how can this be?
Clint's been an actor for 50 years and a director for almost
40. With this
much experience in front of and behind the camera, how could
Clint the auteur turn in a film with such pathetic acting?
I have a theory why.
Most of you aren't going to want to hear it.
It's because he's an overrated director.
Before you chastise me for besmirching the reputation
of a screen icon and legend the majority seemingly adore
enough to rate his latest movie #89 of all movies ever made,
hear me out first.
As I see it, Gran Torino exposes
Clint's talent is in finding scripts movie reviewers
If he's handed The Bridges Over Madison County, Mystic
River, or Unforgiven and hires accomplished
actors like Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Sean Penn, and
the actors can deliver their top class performances.
Clint stays out of the way and lets the actors
accomplishments win him the awards and nominations.
But his one-take,
minimally supervised directing approach only works when the
actors already know how to act.
The Torino actors knew as much about acting as
I do about tap dancing, and it showed.
There's very little negative
said about Clint. That could be because the guy is a saint
or, more probably, because he surrounds himself with a wall of publicity, further helped
because it's considered poor taste to slam an old man who's
enjoying a career resurgence when most screen professionals
are retired on a golf course.
If you examine a list of all the biographies about
Clint, it's hard to find an author who's not riding on the
One of the latest, Clint: The Billion Dollar Man,
is written by someone Clint personally endorses.
Another, Clint Eastwood:
A Biography, is
authored by a man who was basically an employee and buddy of
Clint's during the research process.
Those hardly make for impartial biographies.
Just one biography,
Clint: The Life And Legend by Patrick
McGilligan, stands out for not being part of the universal
McGilligan documents Clint's philandering, unethical
business dealings in which friends were screwed out of
profits, his cowardly avoidance of confrontation, and his
overrated directing style.
sued McGilligan and the book's publisher, St. Martin's Press,
I have read McGilligan's book and it does
not paint a pretty portrait of Clint.
Most of the reviewers at Amazon are critical of
McGilligan's book, simply because the book is critical of
They accuse McGilligan of having an axe to grind with
if a book is written depicting Clint as anything but a hero,
the author doesn't know what he's talking about.
And all along I thought a legitimate biographer's job
was to unveil the real person behind the image, whatever
dark sides may be lurking.
Let us try to be as impartial as
we can. If
McGilligan were pulling facts out of thin air, and Clint's
army of ultra expensive lawyers could have disproved
McGilligan's claims, don't you think the book would've been
pulled from the presses and Clint awarded a hefty settlement
from St. Martin's?
Yet the judge allowed the book to continue being
was only ordered to remove passages that state Clint
physically abused his first wife after the person who cited
these instances, former Clint friend Fritz Manes, recanted
The way it looks to me is that Clint knew the book
was, more or less, true but sued anyway.
The suit was a strategic, not a financial, move.
More people would've read the news coverage than the
book itself. The
suit was a way for Clint to weigh in that the book should be
perhaps, just perhaps, the book has a large degree of truth
within it, and Clint is also overrated as a person
and not just as a director.
Here is a man who lost his virginity at
age 14, says he loved and scored with the ladies, and yet
inexplicably got married at age 23 to a woman, Maggie, he'd
known for only 6 months.
I'm aware that there was more pressure on a man to
get married and at younger ages back in 1953.
But Clint, if the biographical data is accurate, was
not your typical accountancy or pre-med student.
He did a lot of odd jobs and lived in a lot of
different places and probably picked up a lot of different
women. Why get
married so young?
Why stand in the way of the non-stop fun?
He was never faithful to his first wife, never even
attempted to be, and didn't have children with her the first
fifteen years they were married.
Meanwhile, he impregnated an actress on the set of
his Rawhide TV series.
This gained Clint entry into a unique club:
becoming a first-time father while married but with
the mother being someone other than his spouse.
Clint must've been ahead of his time.
Even in the early twenty-first century, it's common
to have a child out of wedlock, but not while you're married
to someone else.
The Man With No
Shame went on to win the James Brolin "Been There, Done
That" Award: he
both balled Brolin's first wife Jane while James Brolin was
wedded to her and also test drove Barbra Streisand before
Mr. Brolin ever tied the knot with her.
Clint became involved in a high profile
relationship with his co-star Sandra Locke in the late
1970's while still married to his wife.
She claims she aborted two of Clint's babies and
eventually got sterilized at Clint's insistence as Clint
concurrently impregnated an airline hostess, twice, who
wasn't into abortions.
Locke got officially ousted for Clint's next squeeze,
Frances Fisher, whom he also wound up impregnating.
Fisher went the same way as Locke once Clint met a
newscaster half his age.
At 66, he married her and quickly impregnated her --
or possibly impregnated her, then married her.
She bore Clint's last (official) child less than nine
months after they were married.
How many children do you really have, Clint? Ten Different Children With Five Different Girls
Today, Clint's official paternity count
is seven different children with four different girls.
I entitled my ode to Clint Ten Different Children
With Five Different Girls just in case a few were
Honestly, ten/five is probably underestimating the
totals. As they
say, where there's smoke, there's fire. Before his Frances
Fisher impregnation, the official story about Clint was that
he had just two children.
If he could keep three kids' existences secret, he
could keep ten secret, as long as the women he impregnated
were not famous personalities in the media spotlight.
Deep movie star pockets are perfect for keeping
former groupies' mouths glued shut.
Clint is not unique in being a serial
It comes with the territory of Hollywood.
Warren Beatty also went through women like wine, and
for all I know, dated several at once.
But not even womanizing Warren impregnated one lady
as he simultaneously romanced another while being married to
still another. Warren
was wise enough to not mix philandering with marriage.
He didn't get married and have children until he was
The classic egomaniac feels better when
others around him earn and achieve less.
Take a look at the majority of Clint Eastwood movies
in which he appears as an actor, whether or not he directs
Notice that Clint rarely appears on screen beside any
His best known franchise, Dirty Harry, features no
A-list talent that would have rivaled Clint's fame at the
time. When Clint
does occasionally appear with equally famous people,
Female love interests, like
Shirley Maclaine (Two Mules For Sister Sara) and
Meryl Streep (The Bridges of Madison County).
Streep would have offered Clint other benefits.
He allegedly slept with her doing the shooting .
His then main flame, Frances Fisher, was barred from
all the Iowa shooting locations.
Most of the time Clint's female love interests are
not big name actresses, just future sleeping companions.
Supporting characters that
take no attention away from Clint as the star.
Examples are Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris (Unforgiven),
Gene Hackman (Absolute Power), and Tommy Lee
Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner (Space Cowboys).
Stars of the film, front and
center, but playing roles Clint couldn't.
Think A Perfect World, in which Kevin Costner
was the lead and Clint played a supporting role as the
was too old to play the part of the convict.
Another example is Million Dollar Baby.
Hilary Swank played the 'baby'.
Again, Clint was too old for the part, and he's not a
Clint's primary intention in both those films was to direct.
He wasn't originally going to cast himself in
Million Dollar Baby.
The parts were incidental, and if Clint had decided
not to appear in those movies, the movies wouldn't have been
By being the director of the films, Clint was already
The smart businessman hires people better
than he is and accepts a new idea if it's superior to his
egomaniac surrounds himself with yes men and undermines
the filming of The Outlaw Josey Wales in 1976,
Clint fired director Philip Kaufman and took over the
directing duties. In
1984, Clint let director Richard Tuggle "direct"
Tightrope but subject to Clint's demands.
That same year, Richard Benjamin directed Clint and
Burt Reynolds in the box office disaster City Heat.
By all accounts, Clint had so emasculated
Benjamin after getting rid of original director Blake
Edwards that Benjamin was next to useless.
It's common in Hollywood for a powerful actor to get
director approval on a project, but once the director is
agreed upon, the director is in charge.
On Clint's sets, he's always the one in control.
No wonder Steven Spielberg and Clint have never
worked together as director and actor, respectively.
It'd be a clash of the egos from which no winner
An egomaniac thinks only in terms of what
will benefit himself, and Clint's behavior, particularly his
behavior towards the females in his life, shows the
Clintster is looking out solely for number one.
I don't feel sorry for the women Clint used and
takes two to tango.
Clint's impregnation prowess was kept under wraps,
but his womanizing wasn't.
His first wife knew of his gallivanting but didn't do
anything about it until Clint got so bold to go out in
public and flaunt his new lovers.
Subsequent women could see how he treated earlier
women, yet they got in line anyway, to be used, impregnated,
When I survey Clint's 'relationships', it's the classic
example of a man cashing in an old model for something
Clint now declares that his old philandering antics are
Perhaps that's true.
More likely, it's not.
If it is true, if Clint really did reform himself at
the age of 66, it's only because the advancing years were
getting him to a stage where the young women wouldn't
continue to jump in the queue as quickly.
It's just hard to imagine an 85 year old Clint (or
anyone, for that matter) able to keep seducing women a half
to a third of his age.
He wouldn't want to reach old, old age mega rich but
he locked in a companion, and impregnation and marriage are
as good a way to do that as any.
If his wife Dina is truly his lifelong soul mate,
then I wish Clint all the best.
Clint's prior behavior, however, doesn't reveal a man
on a quest for a soul mate.
I can already foresee the flames I'm
going to get from this article.
I base none of my assessments of Clint's character
on pure conjecture.
I look to his record -- of women, of impregnations, of
working relationships, of co-stars, and even of an assistant
editor who used to work on some of Clint's films in the
record leaves a trail Clint's PR machine can't completely
wash under the rug.
Clint once said in Dirty Harry, "A man's got
to know his limitations."
Clint left innumerable people in his wake as he found