Saturday, May 31, 2014

Clint Eastwood: From Rowdy Yates To Dirty Harry To Unforgiven

A Birthday Post

Today is Clint Eastwood's 84th birthday.  So in celebration we will explore some of his legendary career.  Mr. Eastwood has been part of the Hollywood Landscape for over 50 years, and he has remained a favorite amongst all generations.   We begin our journey on the cattle trail.

Rawhide (1959)

Rawhide was a show about life on a cattle trail. Clint Eastwood portrayed cattle driver Rowdy Yates, and this role was his first big break.  Rowdy was considered a young inexperienced handsome hot head.  He portrayed this character for 8 seasons and it made him a television star. 

The Man With No Name (1964)

The Man With No Name is a trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns that began with "A Fistful of Dollars" in 1964.  The trilogy included "For a Few Dollars More" and "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly."  These movies broke the Rawhide image and began a new phase in Clint Eastwood's career: the anti hero.  In these westerns Clint portrayed The Stranger.  His character had no name. He was mysterious. Tough. Deadly with a gun. 

Dirty Harry (1971)

In the Dirty Harry series, Clint Eastwood portrayed Harry Callahan.  The series consisted of "Dirty Harry," "Magnum Force," "The Enforcer," "Sudden Impact," and "The Dead Pool."  Harry was a cop whom as the title suggests wasn't afraid to get dirty.  He did what he thought was necessary to get the bad guys.  It could be argued that the Dirty Harry movies solidified Eastwood as the classic anti-hero of his time.  Callahan was a man for whom the audience cheered, even though he didn't behave as the classically good guy cop. He had memorable lines that people still quote to this day. If you walk up to anyone on the street, they may not know much about guns, but they would probably know Harry Callahan's gun.

Play Misty For Me (1971)

This film marked Clint Eastwood's directorial film debut. He played radio jockey Dave Garver who found himself dealing with an obsessed stalker. The title of the film refers to the stalker, Evelyn, frequently calling to request the song "Misty."  The film was received very well and it began Clint's journey as a successful director. 

Unforgiven (1992)

This is a big leap from the 1970s to the 1990s.  I am choosing to end with "Unforgiven," because this was my first introduction to Clint Eastwood as a director.    Also, this movie is considered by many to have revitalized the western genre. Therefore, I thought it would be fitting to end it on this film. 
 In the movie, Eastwood portrays William Munny. He is a man repenting the sins of his youth. A reformed murderer who has hung up his guns. He is convinced to help bring to justice men who had disfigured a female prostitute since the local sheriff is crooked.  Since it has been many years that he has done anything of that nature, he is rusty with a gun and with riding a horse.   It was hard for many in the audience to see Eastwood portray a man falling off a horse and not even able to shoot a gun anymore.  However, watching Eastwood portray a man struggling to not fall back into old habits, but also be able to do what needs to be done resonated with a lot of people.  

Clint Eastwood is one of the few Legends that are still around. He is still active today with acting and directing.  He is also a musician who has composed the musical score for some of his films.  A talented man that we hope continues to influence and make movies for years to come. 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Eastwood. You have truly made our day. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bette Davis: Fierceness Personified

Bette Davis: Fierceness Personified

When I think of Bette Davis, one word comes to mind: fierce.  Whether portraying a cunning evil Vixen or a plain fragile soul, there was a fierceness to her even if it was way below the surface.  Perhaps that was something pouring over from her true self into the role that she played?  I do not know.  All I know is that I could sense it.  We are going to explore two of her famous characters and get a feel of the fierceness that lurked.

The Little Foxes (1941)

In this movie, Bette Davis plays Regina Giddens.  At the start of the 20th Century, women certainly didn't have as many rights as men, particularly when it comes to inheritances.  Regina's brothers inherit from their wealthy father, while she can only rely on her ill husband for financial support. Now this does not sit well with Regina.  She wants what she feels she is owed- a lot of money.  When her brothers' scheme to gain more money for a venture does not go as planned, she finds the perfect opportunity to blackmail them.  Regina's fierceness is seen in what she is willing to do to get what she wants. I do not want to give too much away but there is a coldness in her. There is an intensity, a power, a fierceness in her eyes and body language as she stands firm to achieve her goal no matter the cost. 

Now, Voyager (1942)

Davis plays Charlotte Vale. Charlotte is considered plain and unattractive. She is brow beaten by her mother and has no self-esteem.  Things start to look up for her when she gets away from her mother.  She spends time in a Sanatorium and then takes a long cruise.  While away from her mother she learns independence and falls in love. Charlotte's fierceness is in her determination not to be placed back under her mother's thumb. She stands firm against her mother.  When tragedy occurs, she seeks the help she needs.  Then she has the compassion to help a young girl in a similar situation. She finds the power and fire within herself to be strong.

One actress. Two characters. Very different personalities.  Yet a power within them. A firmness. Strength. Fierceness.  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Romantic-Comedy Blogathon

Arsenic and Old Lace: The Crazy Runs Deep

It seems a common occurrence for people to think their family is crazier than everyone else's family.  For theater critic, Mortimer Brewster, he may actually win that contest.

He has one brother(Teddy) who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and constantly blows a bugle and charges up stairs:

He has another brother(Jonathan) who is a psychotic murderer, and through a botched plastic surgery was made to look like Boris Karloff:

And to top it off he has two sweet looking aunts, who poison lonely men that board at their house to bring the men peace:

The excitement begins when Mortimer takes his new wife to see his aunts before heading on their honeymoon.  That night, he discovers his aunts murderous deeds; his Boris Karloff looking brother returns to hide from the police; constant complaints against Teddy  requires him to finally be committed.

So in one night Mortimer has to keep his aunts' secret from being discovered, but stop them from continuing their poisonous practice. He has to procure all of the necessary documents to commit Teddy. Then he has to get Jonathan to leave the house without the man killing him. Mortimer has to deal with all of this while keeping his new wife from finding out, and with the police constantly stopping by.

Is there any wonder Mortimer fears becoming crazy himself?