The Eastwood Factor Richard Schickel

The Eastwood Factor Richard Schickel
Helmed by film historian Richard Schickel and narrated by (who else?) Morgan Freeman, The Eastwood Factor provides a nice overview of American icon Clint Eastwood's career. It's a brief overview, sure, but considering this disc was originally packaged as a supplement to Warner's new 35-film Eastwood box set, or that it's basically the movie adaptation of Shickel's recent glossy book, Clint: A Retrospective, what can you expect? The Eastwood Factor provides a compelling thematic sketch of Eastwood, positing him as a Hollywood icon whose work, especially as a director, has deconstructed various archetypes of manhood. While he may inherit something of John Wayne's legacy, Eastwood's star status is far more complex, challenging masculine assumptions in everything from Harry Calahan's archconservative attitudes to his weepy romance with Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County. The film looks exclusively at Eastwood's work with Warner, especially his directorial efforts, as Clint shambles around the studio's back lot, checking out old costumes from Space Cowboys and strolling down the NYC set he used in Bird. It's a highlight reel, to be sure, which focuses primarily on the high watermarks of Eastwood's career: the Dirty Harry films, Bird, Unforgiven, Mystic River and many of his recent, more critically acclaimed works. The problem is that looking at Eastwood with these "best of" blinders ignores many aspects of his extensive filmography. Certainly, the guy's career is unimpeachable, but The Eastwood Factor is too caught up in prestige to look at any of his goofiest features, like City Heat, Any Which Way But Loose, Pink Cadillac or Firefox. And forget any coverage of films not distributed by Warner Bros. ― the film gives short shrift to his breakout role in Sergio Leone's "Man With No Name" trilogy, while outright ignoring other seminal Eastwood films such as Kelly's Heroes, Play Misty For Me and High Plains Drifter. Special features: none. It is a special feature. (Warner)