Saturday, March 04, 2017

Every Which Way But Loose

Clint Eastwood was one of the world’s biggest movie stars and at the height of his fame when he made EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE against the advice of his Malpaso team. Clint’s first comedy, EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE shocked critics to not only become his biggest box office hit to date, but his biggest hit ever when grosses are adjusted for inflation. It ain’t exactly Noel Coward, but the blue-collar antics of Clint’s bare-knuckles brawler Philo Beddoe and beer-swilling, bird-flipping orangutan Clyde struck gold in America’s heartland.

Writer Jeremy Joe Kronsberg (GOING APE!) sort of concocts a plot leading up to a match between Philo and the legendary Tank Murdock (Walter Barnes), but there’s a lot of cursing, infantile slapstick, weak double entendres, chases, drinking and driving, destruction of property, and punching of Nazi faces first. A surprising amount of screen time is given to Philo and his friends on a road trip where they camp out, get into fights, and sneak into a zoo to get Clyde laid.

Beddoe and Clyde live in Los Angeles next door to Philo’s best pal Orville (Geoffrey Lewis) and Orville’s senile mother (Ruth Gordon). Philo, who can lift a car, makes extra money fighting in underground bare-knuckles bouts. He picks up country singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke, who bowls in tiny shorts) in a bar and makes out with her in his old Chevy pickup. He also beats up a Pacoima Nazi biker gang called the Black Widows, played by the ugliest character actors Clint could find. Basically, Philo Beddoe is awesome.

With Eastwood’s ace crew, including editors Ferris Webster and Joel Cox, assisting director James Fargo (THE ENFORCER), EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE looks and sounds more professional than its ragged storyline deserves. Gregory Walcott (PRIME CUT) and James McEachin (FUZZ) play corrupt cops on Philo’s tail, and Beverly D’Angelo (NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION) gives Lewis a romance. Mel Tillis sings a couple of his big hits, and Eddie Rabbit’s title song went to number one on the country charts. Believe it or not, the sequel, ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN, is Eastwood’s second-biggest inflation-adjusted box office hit of all time.

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