Sunday, March 05, 2017

Any Which Way You Can

Of course, Warner Brothers demanded a sequel when EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE became Clint Eastwood’s biggest box office smash to date, so here we are with ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN. To this day, the two films are Eastwood’s all-time most successful as an actor when grosses are adjusted for inflation, which is something when you think about the brilliant films in which he has starred. Also, I suspect it may hold the record for acts of violence in a PG film.

The screenplay by Stanford Sherman (KRULL) is not exactly outside the box nor should it be, I suppose. Bare-knuckles brawler Philo Beddoe (Clint) is back with most of the cast of the first film, including but not limited to scene-stealing Clyde the orangutan. Nazi bikers are still giving Philo a hard time, his pal Orville (Geoffrey Lewis) and Orville’s cantankerous mother (Ruth Gordon) still has his back, and even the country singer who jilted him (Sondra Locke) is back (it’s easy to forget the first film ended on kind of a bummer). Hell, even the main titles are the same, except instead of Eddie Rabbitt, it’s Clint warbling a song with Ray Charles about being in Vietnam. And, of course, it all ends with another knockdown dragout punchfest between Clint and Tank Murdock surrogate Jack Wilson, played by ubiquitous movie badass William Smith (CONAN THE BARBARIAN).

This sequel has more of a story — something about gangsters kidnapping Philo’s lady friend to coerce him into one last fight — but what makes it really interesting is the relationship between Philo and Jack Wilson. Smith doesn’t play Wilson as a standard heavy, but a man with a strong moral code who respects and maybe likes his opponent. Their fight, directed by stuntman Buddy Van Horn (THE DEAD POOL) making his debut, is a real corker that doesn’t stop just because of Philo’s broken arm. ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN is smuttier than the first film with more Clyde and more low-hanging boob jokes (literally). It’s also dumber and weirdly compelling most of the time.

1 comment:

Mike Doran said...

Up front, I have to say I loved this movie.
It was just a fun Saturday afternoon at the movies.
Loved how Philo and LHT got back together (Arbitrary? What's that?).
Loved the 52 Gang (That was their average age/waistline/IQ).
Loved the music (Fats Domino, yet!).
Loved the tripartite motel scene (Philo & Lynne /Clyde & the lady orang/ Logan & Anne Ramsey in their only boudoir scene ever).
Loved how Clyde repoed cars.
Loved "Right turn, Clyde!"
Really, something for everybody ...