Clint Eastwood - The Good, The Bad and The Raunchy
Daily Express 9th September 1992
WITHOUT question, Eastwood has it. The "it", in his case, has a lot to do with good old-fashioned sexual magnetism. It's a certain magic that makes millions of people turn towards him like plants turn to light.
Once, when he was shooting a scene, a huge crowd stood outside the studio all day waiting for him to appear at the door. When he finally did, they oohed and aahed they were enthralled.
The amazing thing is that Clint never thinks about his appeal. But women do and they find the magnetism as strong as ever. The latest love interest in 62-year-old Clint's life, actress Frances Fisher, may at 39 be over two decades his junior, but on a recent holiday in the South of France she proved that his sex appeal hadn't faded with age.
However, Clint remains something of an enigma, even to his intimates. "Part of his sex appeal is the mystery of how deeply he feels. How deeply he is involved in life," says actress Susan Clark, who co-starred with him in Coogan's Bluff.
The film's director, Don Siegel, who died last year, was Eastwood's film mentor and friend. It started out as a head-butting relationship on Coogan's Bluff in 1968, but soon developed into one of mutual admiration.
Not long before he died, Siegel told me: "I found Clint very good at knowing what to do with the camera. I also found that he's inclined to underestimate his range. I think he's very underrated as an actor, partly because he's so successful.
"Clint is a very strong individual, on and off the screen. When you give him a direction, you must be sure you're right about it. Clint knows what he is doing when he acts and when he picks material. That's why he's the No.1 box-office star in the world.
"His character is usually bigger than life. He is a tarnished super hero, actually an anti-hero. You can poke at a character like that. He makes mistakes, does things in questionable taste, is vulnerable. He's not a white knight rescuing the girl: he seduces her."
Siegel's favourite Eastwood film was The Beguiled, about a man crippled in war who is given sanctuary in a school. "The place is full of innocent, virginal girls, with a headmistress whose virginity is caused by her frigidity. Behind the facade of innocent faces lurks as much evil as in a bunch of hoodlums. Johnny B becomes a trapped man, made helpless by a bunch of sparrows.
"The most important thing separating this from an ordinary picture is the females. His murder, instead of filling the women with remorse, is followed by business as usual. Any young girl who looks perfectly harmless is capable of murder.
"Later that year Clint asked me to direct Dirty Harry. I saw Harry as a bigot, a bitter man. He doesn't like people. He has no use for anyone who breaks the law, and he doesn't like the way the law is administered.
"In production we only printed 60,000 feet of film. Of that we used about 10,000 feet in the finished picture. Now that is very little film for a Hollywood movie. Clint's famous for the way he hates waste."
Even the usually critical Norman Mailer is a major fan of Eastwood. He cites the moment in Play Misty For Me when Eastwood realises that the girl he's dating is a dangerous psychotic: "As the. camera moves in, his stare is as still as the eyes of a trapped animal. Yet his expression is luminous with horror. He is one actor who can put his soul into his eyes."
Of course, what really made Clint a star in the first place was a low-budget Western made for £100,000 in Spain by a non-English-speaking director called Serge Leone. After James Coburn refused the part in A Fistful Of Dollars, Eastwood reluctantly took the lead. After all, no one else was offering him anything in movies. The title turned out to be prophetic. All involved got lucky.
Eastwood reckoned that the less his character, The Man With No Name, talked, the more the mystique. But he doesn't take the credit.
"It was all there in the script. I was ready for doing anything different in a Western, because the Western in America in 1964 had reached a real dead period as far as imagination was concerned."
But Eastwood almost didn't become box-office magic worldwide, with millions hanging on his every silence.
He recalls those early days in Spain: "I scuffed around in the dirt all morning waiting for the director and crew to quit arguing. The talk was all in Spanish or Italian and I didn't understand a word, though I could tell there was a violent discussion going on. We blew the whole morning without getting one shot.
"Finally Serge told me I could start making up, which was a nice slow job if you didn't mind the sticky heat, the dust and the flies. The scene called for a lot of make-up because my face was badly swollen from being beaten up by the gang.
"I came out from that make-up feeling hot and uncomfortable, only to find the set was deserted. The entire crew had vanished. It seems they hadn't been paid for two weeks and they had left till someone turned up with money.
"By this time, with one eye sealed shut by all the junk on my face, I'd had it. I told them they could find me at the airport. Fortunately Serge caught up with me before I had left the hotel. He apologised and promised it wouldn't happen again. Things ran a little smoother after that, although were far from perfect. But we got through the film."
Clint's fee was just £7,500. He reckons the movie succeeded because he changed the rules. "I had spent many years playing the Good Guy. There was something I liked about going against every Western tradition.
"Usually no one played the guy who, when he enters town and sees a woman and a child crying for help, rides on. But that gives the character somewhere to go in the movie. He can become interested in the others, against his will. The No Name guy soon became a very imitated character."
Douglas Thompson 1992. Clint Eastwood: Sexual Cowboy, by Douglas Thompson is published on September 18 by Smith Gryphon at £15.99. Series adapted by PETER GROSVENOR.
Chasing cast of leading ladies
WHEN Clint Eastwood began filming The Rookie in 1990 there was a new lady on the set. Red-haired Frances Fisher — a Sondra Locke look-alike — had starred in two very popular American daytime soaps, and had also appeared in Pink Cadillac with Eastwood in 1989.
But Frances' concerns were not with what was happening on screen. She would wait for Eastwood into the early hours and they would take off for breakfast in his red truck.
Her focus was on Brazilian actress Sonia Braga, known as the Marilyn Monroe of South America, who was among the cast.
Braga arrived with a raunchy reputation. She had a sexual explicitness about her and was personally chosen by Eastwood for the role of a cocaine-snorting hit-woman, who rapes him in a sado-masochistic scene.
At the time, ladies were making life complicated for Eastwood. His daughter Kimber by Roxanne Tunis — his once secret family — was also putting pressure on him.
Things had become extremely strained between Eastwood and his daughter, born in 1964. By 1991 she had changed her name to Kimber Eastwood. But she claimed Eastwood wouldn't acknowledge her because she had talked publicly about their father-daughter relationship.
"I'm out of the family. I guess we never had the greatest relationship. He says I cut myself short by my actions. I'm upset because of my son Clinton but, on the other hand, His Highness can't bother me any more."
Despite all his romantic wanderings, Frances Fisher appeared to be a permanent part of Eastwood's life by 1991.
They visited his home in Sun Valley, Idaho, and they were seen around Carmel and in Los Angeles. Soon after they went public and were seen skiing together in Beaver Creek in Colorado's Rocky Mountains.
"I've known Clint for two years and we've been going out together for over a year," said Frances. "In love? Yes, he's a wonderful man and a special friend — and it's nice to be together,"
It seemed, therefore, that the relationship with Dani Janssen, widow of Clint's friend David, was off despite Frank Sinatra's match-making efforts. "They're perfect for each other," he said.
Clint now says: "Some people thrive on a violent kind of love. As I've grown older I've looked for a more tranquil kind. It gets to be a kind of Zen thing, a plateau that you reach after you've been through everything else. The warrior ego gives way to something higher.
"The best kind of relationship is one where both people can express themselves freely and there's mutual respect.
"I guess it's possible to love a woman and not respect her. But it wouldn't be anything that's gonna hang around for a while. Of course, everybody's in love in the sack. The question is: Are you in love five minutes afterwards?"
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