Many years ago Bruce and I visited my friend Steve down at the Monterey Shakespeare Festival. Steve was playing a track suited Theseus in a modern dress version of Midsummer Night's Dream. one night we decided we should have a burger at The Hog's Breath Inn,then owned by Mayor Eastwood. So,there was no doubt it was owned by Eastwood. You walked in and there were pictures of Clint in all his movies. There were no signs that said "Feelin lucky,punk? Try todays fish special" or " Go ahead,make my eggs" ,but Clint permeated the place,for sure.
Well,my friend Steve has always told stories about meeting people. He is a singer now and has met a bunch of people,but at this point I wasn't always sure. He began to tell a story of seeing Clint here,and then,jokingly saying things like "and I know Clint,have known him for years,you know,had beers with him"....
and we sit down...
and I was sitting there thinking the menu was good,food wise,but if it were me,I would've gone for a little more kitsch"Our waitresses are any which way but loose", "Our burgers are grilled in the line of fire,add some clyde fries for a few dollars more"
and as i was thinking how Clint missed the kitsch boat, Bruce said to me "There's Eastwood" and I looked,and at the next table was a guy that looked like Eastwood. Now,I was from a drama program where our teacher knew the guy who played Scotty from Star Trek. It was made clear to us that we couldn't ask for his autograph,called him Scotty,or say "Beam Me Up". I have a cool resolve,but did a double take because,it really was Eastwood. We sat and ate our Eastwood, I mean burger,not once clinting about think. Small talk "Hey,could you guys pass the Clint". And we made it. Clint got up and left....
Then Steve decides to get his autograph. "Go with me" he says knowing I"m the friend who will dance in front of the fancy french restaurant,I"m the one who will yell "I shot my wad" as you come out of the tunnel of the matterhorn.(never really realized how bad that sounded)...So going up with Steve was a no brainer. Here is the transcription of Steve and Clint's scene.
Steve: Uh,uhm,Clint,hey,uhm,can you,uh,sign this?
Clint;(Nicely) Yeah,could ya wait a minute. I"m talking to these people.
Steve: Oh,uhm, sorry(Steve leaves. Clint looks at David)
i said sorry and left....BUT....if I had a time machine,I would go back and knowing what I know now I would say
"I Loved Gran Torino. I think you are incredibly underated. I think you know movies. I think you aren't afraid to take risks. I never realized how much respect I had for you"
and he would say
"What's Gran Torino?"
People have hinted that Gran Torino might be Eastwood's swan song as an actor. If so,what a way to go. We forget that Eastwood cut his teeth on the great cinema of the 60's,in the great era of the antihero. Still filled with that ambiguity Eastwood is not afraid to show darkness. Only he could show World War 2 from both sides...the american Flag of Our Fathers and the Japanese Sands of Iwo Jima. Eastwood played the conflicted for years. One of his finest directed films was Mystic River,a novel by one of my go to authors Dennis Lehane. Mystic River shows the ambiguity of faith,family and revenge.
I used to review movies for my college paper,and am done reviewing,but I will say this: Gran Torino is a great picture. It tells a story of bigotry and gangs,of redemption in the unredeemable. It is a film that you can talk about from the moral standpoint,from character decisions. The other thing I enjoyed about it was that it was funny at times. Eastwood does an amazing job playing a bigoted war vet. It is not politically correct,and really not political.
Once Denzel Washington was nominated for best actor against Clint Eastwood. He said "I mean,who am I going to lose to,Clint Eastwood? I mean,I love him,but come on". Well Eastwood definitely turns in a stellar performance in this.
and thank god for storytellers like eastwood,who are not afraid to get their feet dirt,or their reputation looked at.