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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.

8 thoughts on “Team John or Team Clint?

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by joelysue, Susan Boyle Star. Susan Boyle Star said: Team John or Team Clint?: The revisions on the holiday novella are done and it’s off to a few readers while I work… […]

  2. LOL…My hubby loves, and I mean LOVES, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and I SO DON’T. And that music! Annoying is an understatement…try living in a house full of boys where even the 4 year-old does that wah wah waaaaaah. Hubby calls it a classic, LOL, what’s he been smoking this morning?

    I’m not much of a Western movie person but I guess I’d have to fall in the Wayne camp though.

  3. Wayne, every time. Because the main character generally CARES about something or somebody. The Clint movies character doesn’t.

  4. I’m definitely in the Wayne camp. This is a lot of my uncorroborated opinion mixed with stuff I’ve heard here and there about movies and how they’ve developed. I find movies fascinating in part because of what they say about the society that watched them at the time they were made, though from about mid 1960 through the 70s is my least favorite period.

    The difference between them is mainly that they’re from different periods. John Wayne started out in the 30s and went through, predominantly, the 50s. Though he still acted into the 70s and 80s, his main roles were at a time when Westerns had clearly white hat/black hat guys (most movies did, which is why Humphrey Bogart’s films were interesting. They often reformed the main character, but then he died or went to prison–paying for his crimes), and the good guys always won. The newer movies, where Wayne’s character dies in the end, reflect a change of sensibility in the movie-going public that is at its extreme in the Clint Eastwood movies.

    They’re a product of their time too. Filmed in the 60s and 70s, predominantly, they reflected society’s cynicism, the feeling that there was no point to life, that good guys don’t always win (Vietnam, hippie movement), “regular” society was stifling and destructive to the individual, that what you do doesn’t always matter, and that we all die face down in the mud alone, so we might as well get what happiness (pleasant sensation) we can while we can. Which morphed into the hedonist 80s, and so on..

    I think we’ve kind of swung back around to the white hat in a lot of our favorite movies, Indiana Jones, Transformers, but we’ve also mixed in some of the cold war sensibility–Bourne Identity, The Punisher–that leaves us alone and paranoid, while still righteous, and some of the fatalism of the 70s, like the Crank movies with Jason Statham.

    And this is waaay too long. Shutting it now.

  5. Well, after reading Deena’s comment, I was totally enlightened. It made me go “Hmmm, I never thought of it like that before”, which is odd since I applied that kind of thinking to other things, e.g. songs, other movie genres, fashion, but not western movies. I honestly can say I’m on neither camps. I like them both as actors, but I like Clint mostly as director & producer. Just like George Clooney, I like him as an actor, but I love him as a producer/director. They hardly ever produced junk and you almost always ending up thinking about the movie message, whether you personally like the movie or not, which I appreciate more than anything.

    So, shout out to Deena, no need to apologize for writing a long comment, because it is worth reading. 😛

  6. Well, I did get a kick out of “Two Mules for Sister Sarah”, but I think it’s more for the heroine than the hero. It’s a Clint movie, and I do love it at the end when she’s all “Aren’t you even gonna take off your boots?”, to which he replies, “I ain’t got time fer that!” and climbs into her bathtub fully clothed. There was such build-up, ya know?

    But I think, otherwise, I’m probably on Team John. “True Grit” is one of my all-time favorites, followed closely by “El Dorado”. I’ve enjoyed some of the more recent westerns (“3:10 to Yuma” and “Tombstone” and the like), but really. Nothing beats the Duke.

  7. Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t care for Clint’s Westerns!!

    Deena, that is so fascinating. I never thought of it that way, but you’re absolutely right. I guess I’m just a 50s-60s girl!

    Sis, we love El Dorado too, but I always get it confused with Rio Bravo. One has Ricky and the other Dean, but I love them both. I haven’t seen Sister Sarah – maybe I’ll try it. Once I get over my Clint burnout!

  8. Thanks, mbot. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to end that…

    Two Mules for Sister Sarah was fun, but I think it was Clint being light (“Right turn, Clyde”) combined with the pixie style and wit of Shirley McClain. It’s very different, but I think it has a similar sensibility to Rooster Cogburn. I think Clint is a very good director, and his movies from the 90s through today are very good.

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