Mrs Eastwood and Company

When I first read about this ‘reality’ television program that would be featuring Clint Eastwood‘s ‘last’ wife and family and that he would be dropping in on the occasional episode, I thought it was somebody’s idea of a bad joke. Surely Clint wasn’t happy about this idea and surely he wouldn’t lower himself so much that he would actually appear.

Would he?

It turned out that I was wrong on all counts. First of all, it isn’t a bad joke, although I can’t really say that with any real certainty as I haven’t seen the program yet. But it premièred in May this year and it turns out that Clint will be appearing on the odd episode, well three  according to IMDb and their episode listings of the program.

I sat here thinking about why the Eastwood’s would even consider such a venture. Do they need money that badly? I would have thought that a man with Clint’s stature in the Hollywood hierarchy would have more than enough money to see him through his retirement, if and when he decides to take it. I know he’s still working, he was over here in England last year fine tuning  his latest directorial effort.

Was Dina thinking of leaving Clint and wanted to get a nest egg set up? Or is the program primarily to help her ‘sell’ her newly discovered South African vocal group. What better way to drum up much needed publicity for your new musical protégées than to have a weekly program that they can be trotted out regularly for inspection on.

Of course the other thing I immediately wondered about was how his other children felt about the reality show. Clint has a pretty big brood. He may have only been married twice, but he’s fathered seven children with five different women. Shy and retiring  he ain’t. I just wonder if his other kids might not get jealous at this ‘special’ attention paid to the ‘newest’ additions to his family.

Checking with IMDb, and before you ask no I don’t own stock or get remuneration for mentioning the site,  Kyle seems fairly busy. So he probably doesn’t need the extra attention, but as I said before, neither does dad Clint. Daughter Alison seems to be a bit busier that Kyle so she probably doesn’t need the extra coverage either. I will admit that I didn’t check any of the other Eastwood offspring. I’m curious all right but I’m not nosey.

Of course both Kyle and Alison have worked with dad in films. Kyle does music for the Eastwood productions among other things and Alison has worked fairly steadily without having to resort to working for dad. So maybe they aren’t too bothered about the reality program. Of course if the whole Eastwood clan get along well and the reality show runs more that just a season or two, they might still consider appearing in the odd episode.

Unfortunately, considering the competition in the reality realm, I don’t think the Eastwood and Company show stands much of a chance. In a world where Keeping up with the KardashiansThe Real Housewives of New Jersey, America’s Next Top Model and all the other ‘must see’ reality programs already provide enough ersatz drama to fill the Rose Bowl stadium, I don’t know if Mrs Eastwood has much of a chance.

English: Clint Eastwood at the 2010 Toronto In...
English: Clint Eastwood at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Call me cynical, but I get the idea that this brain child is all of Mrs Eastwood’s creation. I can imagine Dina collaring Clint at the breakfast table.

“Clint.”

Yes, Dina?”

“You know how you got Kyle and Alison started in the business?”

“Yes Dina.”

“Well, since you’re not acting any more and you’re not directing that many pictures…”

“Yes Dina?”

“Well, just how are you going to give our kids a start in the business? I was just thinking that a good way to get the kids noticed, and me, would be to do one of those ‘reality’ shows. You’d be helping the children and be helping me get my new band noticed. Be a darling and talk to some of your network friends, will you?”

“Yes Dina.”

The above conversation works a lot better if you can imagine Clint answering in a sort of tired Dirty Harry voice.

I might be wrong of course, but it does kind of stand to reason. After all, how are they going to get a start in the business if not through this program. Besides, looking at the ‘last’ Mrs Eastwood, how could Clint say anything but “Yes Dina.”

English: Dina Eastwood, wife of Clint Eastwood
English: Dina Eastwood, wife of Clint Eastwood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unforgiven (1992): How the West Was Bleak

Cover of "Unforgiven [Blu-ray]"
Cover of Unforgiven [Blu-ray]
Directed by Clint Eastwood (insert film titles here) and written by David Webb Peoples (Soldier, Accidental Hero, Twelve MonkeysUnforgiven is a bleak, grim picture of the old west.

Eastwood is Will Munny an ex-murderer, robber, gunfighter, and he’s an alcoholic. His wife has died and he is raising his two kids and hogs in a derelict area of countryside. His hogs are all dying from some sort of fever and times are beyond tough, they look miserable.

The film starts with a prostitute getting her face savagely beaten by an unhappy customer. She has been left horribly scarred and her ‘pimp’ demands restitution. The local sheriff Little Bill (Gene Hackman) decides that a couple of horses will even things up. Strawberry Alice (Frances Fisher) decides to take matters into her own and the other prostitutes hands by offering a bounty for the death of the two cowboys she deems responsible.

The ‘Schofield Kid’ (Jaimz Woolvett) arrives at Munny‘s farm while he is working his hogs. Tired and muddy, he listens to the ‘Kid’ about the bounty and initially rejects the offer of teaming up with him to collect the money. That Will has changed his mind is evident when he takes his pistol out and starts practising. Discovering that his aim isn’t what it used to be, he switches to a shotgun.  He goes to see his best (and only) friend Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) who he rode with in “the old days.”

He talks Ned into accompanying him and the Schofield Kid to Big Whiskey, Wyoming where the bounty can be collected. They catch up to the Kid and find that he is as blind as a bat without his glasses and can hardly see with them on. Undeterred the three ride up to Big Whiskey to collect the bounty.

At Big Whiskey, Little Bill has found out that “them whores” have offered a bounty and is furious. He knows that his town is going to fill with gunfighters and bounty hunters. He enforces a new law that requires all people entering the town limits to relinquish their weapons before they enter.

English Bob (Richard Harris) enters the town with his “biographer” W.W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek) who is writing Bob’s life for the ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ so popular in the old west. English Bob is an infamous gunfighter and he refuses to hand his guns over to the deputies who control the town line.

Little Bill tackles Bob in his saloon and getting the advantage over him with the aid of his deputies arrests Bob and beats the hell out of him. Little Bill is an overbearing bully who relishes in telling Beauchamp the “truth” about English Bob’s exploits. Gleefully, he points out how Bob usually ‘back shot’ his victims and that he is, in fact, a coward. He turns Bob loose with his gun ruined and Beauchamp decides to stay in Big Whiskey and write about Little Bill.

Will, Ned and the Kid have arrived in Big Whiskey. Will has picked up a pretty good dose of pneumonia and is very ill. He rides into the saloon delirious from fever. He is so sick that he doesn’t see the sign posted at the town limits about turning in his guns. He is in the saloon when Little Bill and his deputies confront and then beat the sick man.

Will passes out and when he comes to, he is being seen to by the prostitute who was beaten at the beginning of the film. After recuperating, Will, Ned and the Kid go to kill the first of the two cowboys, Ned, it turns out, no longer ‘has it in him’ to kill anyone, Will has to use the Spencer rifle to shoot the cowboy. Later he and the Kid go to the cowboy’s ranch and the Kid shoots the other cowboy to death in the outhouse.

When he and Will return to their camp, they find out from the prostitutes that Little Bill has captured Ned and beaten him to death. Will starts drinking from a bottle of whiskey and turns deadly. He rides into town to kill Little Bill and his deputies. After dispatching the law force of Big Whiskey, he rides off admonishing the townspeople to “Bury Ned Right.” Or he will return and kill them and their children.

Throughout the film Eastwood makes sure that the audience knows that Will Munny was a very bad man. His badness stemmed from the alcohol he drank. We learn that Munny killed women and children when he was under the influence. We also learn that his wife, made him change his ways and besides loving her, he was grateful to her for changing his life.

Will Munny is a tragic figure. He is haunted by his past acts and he is haunted by the death of his wife. No wonder that at the start of the film he is raising hogs in what must be some sort of penance for his previous misdeeds. That he feels remorse for the horrible things he did when drunk is obvious, he is constantly asking Ned to reaffirm that he is “no longer like that.”

Eastwood as a director has taken great pains to “de-glamorize” the west and the violence that was it’s everyday existence. Eastwood’s west is grim and bleak and muddy. The deaths of everyone is dirty and small. Will says to the Schofield Kid, after he admits that he has never killed anyone before, “death is a helluva thing, takes away everything a man is and everything he’s ever gonna do” [sic]

Unforgiven is Clint Eastwood’s last western and his own homage to two of his mentors, directors Don Siegel  and Sergio Leone.  As a western swan song it is nigh on perfect. Little wonder that the film got as many awards as it did (four just from the Academy in case you were curious). It was also listed in  2007,  as the #68 Greatest Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute.

I don’t know about that, but I’d say I think it ranks among the top ten westerns of all time.