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Team John or Team Clint?

The revisions on the holiday novella are done and it’s off to a few readers while I work on a blurb and synopsis.  I’m on target to submit by 7/15! Yay!

Meanwhile, we watched several Westerns this past week, and I’m starting to wonder if there are two very distinct camps.  Until this year, I’d never watched a Clint Eastwood movie, and since I wanted to keep a bit of Old West feel to my SFR (ala Firefly), I decided to watch some of the really famous Westerns for inspiration.  Months ago, I started with the original black & white Japanese Seven Samurai and then watched the Magnificent Seven.  I have to admit, I loved Seven Samurai much, much better.  It even made me tear up. Just a little.

Then I decided to watch a few Clint Eastwood movies.  I’ve caught parts of Dirty Harry, but never an entire movie and never one of his “famous” Westerns.  We started with The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  To say I was disappointed would be a huge understatement.  For one, that music was soooo annoying (or perhaps that was just because That Man kept doing that wah wah waaaaaah over and over).  I hated Clint’s character.  The whole point of the movie was stupid.  I didn’t feel like I “got” anything out of it at all.

This weekend, we watched a few of our old favorite John Wayne Westerns:  The Cowboys and The Shootist.  Even though I’ve seen them several times, I still found new things to love.  I don’t like to watch either one regularly because John Wayne dies in both of them, and True Grit is probably my all-time favorite John Wayne movie, but still.  These were really good. 

Since the kids were gone (spending the night with Aunt BB), we had time to watch Pale Rider, too, where all the happy vibes immediately went up in smoke again.  I found it so annoying that we never really learned WHO the Preacher was.  Maybe it’s the writer in me, but that backstory was just screaming, screaming, screaming.  I want to KNOW!  Gah.  Then there was that part where the woman kissed him, and went to leave, but then shut the door.  Implying, of course, that she spent the night with him, even though she’d just decided to marry the “good” and honorable miner.  Talk about settling.  Ugh.  No happy romantic vibes to be found in this movie!

Yesterday while folding laundry, we also continued watching Unforgiven (1992).  I had a really hard time following this movie too.  We had to catch it in pieces over several days, which might have impacted my lack of enjoyment.  Also the window unit we’re using until the A/C is fixed is really loud, and right by my chair, so I had a hard time following the dialogue.  But this was another movie that I just didn’t really GET and I thought there were some missed opportunities.  Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I really wish there’d been more of a happy ending for Munny and the cut-up woman.  The seeds were there, but they just went on their way.

I think it’s the endings that are killing me.  The lack of a POINT, or a satisfying resolution for me personally.  No, I don’t need a happy ending or a romantic thread, obviously (see my favorite John Waynes above).  But when John Wayne looks at those boys and says “I’m proud of you”, I just get goosebumps.  The whole movie is set up so well, with the fight of the old and young bull early in the movie, and the line “Well, it’s not how you’re buried, it’s how you’re remembered.”  Gah.  Such a good movie.

And then I come back to the Clint movies and I just don’t feel that same magic.  Not at all.  So what am I missing?  Are there any Clint Eastwood fans out there that can tell me why his movies are so popular?  Because right now, I’m guessing I’ll always be Team John Wayne.