How I Loved “Gran Torino” (2008, Clint Eastwood)
Clint Eastwood is a living Hollywood legend and some would say that he is a better director than actor. Here he combines both talents, as he has done so well in the past, whilst presenting his take of the current social state of America. A Korean war veteran, Walt Kowalski has little time for b.s. and takes pride in his 1972 Gran Torino.
It is safe to say that Clint Eastwood is perhaps the finest American actor/director of modern times. We all know his story: the young Clint had a small part on Western-based US television called Rawhide which began half a century ago in 1959. He had fans but achieved worldwide recognition when he was plucked from his relatively obscurity by maverick Italian director Sergio Leone for a series of spaghetti westerns…the first being A Fistful Of Dollars (1964). There he was ‘The Man With No Name’ in his poncho, cowboy hat tilted to the side, an eternally unlit cigar and one of the fastest hands in the West. This man could draw. And a star was born.
(Clint Eastwood as ‘The Good’ in Sergio Leone’s seminal Western “The Good, the Bad and The Ugly” against the backdrop of Civil War graves and tombstones (1966). Without Wikipedia, this image would not be here.)
He went to create another iconic character, this time a detective named ‘Dirty’ Harry Callaghan in 1971 for director Don Siegel. That year he also directed his first feature film ‘Play Misty For Me’, a claustrophobic tale of a radio DJ (played by Eastwood) whose number one demands a little more of him than he is willing to give up. And so his career as an actor/director began in earnest and has blossomed ever since.
Dirty Harry was known for his uncomprimising approach to police work (1971). Image via Wikipedia
2008’s Gran Torino saw Clint in the 78th year of his life and he has lost none of his storytelling skill or hunger. He plays a Korean War veteran by the name of Walt Kowalski, who has a dislike of outsiders, who becomes increasingly dismayed with the younger generation he sees around him which include his children and grandchildren, as well the Oriental family who have moved in next door. Clint uses the film as an opportunity to give his opinion on modern America’s family and social values and standards in relation to his own. An unsavoury incident forces our hero to form an unlikely relationship with one of the new neighbours and events begin to unravel as a direct result. Peppered with flagrant language, especially from Clint, the film’s title refers to an impeccably cared for classic car which is his character’s most prized possession and the reason for a lot of what happens in the film. As you can see I am doing my best to give nothing away, and succeeding!
Still chiselled! Clint Eastwood recently. Image via Wikipedia
This is a first rate American movie, which may make many critical lists in the future, and should be seen by all. A rare treat with which Clint Eastwood cements his status as my favourite American Republican and his place in the pantheon of great directors and actors.