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Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story (DVD Review)

17 Jul, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Included with the Clint Eastwood 40 Film Collection ($179.98 24-DVD set)
and the Clint Eastwood 20 Film Collection ($129.95 22-BD set)
Not rated.

During Warner Bros.’ year-long 90th anniversary celebration, the studio has the luxury of having a living (and still working) icon among its storied luminaries: Clint Eastwood.

In the 65-minute documentary Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story, director Richard Schickel — former Time magazine film critic and Eastwood biographer — explores the actor’s career behind the camera via conversations with noted peers (Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Marcia Gay Harden and Kevin Costner, among others) as well as (somewhat reserved) Eastwood himself.

While well-known for his “Dirty Harry” roles, “Rawhide” TV series and Spaghetti Westerns, Eastwood directed his first movie in 1971 with Play Misty for Me, starring Jessica Walters (“Arrested Development”) as a deranged groupie who goes to extremes stalking Eastwood’s radio DJ character in a small seaside town (Carmel, Calif.).

In the doc, Eastwood seems surprised then Universal Studios boss Lew Wasserman approved his directorial debut with the caveat the studio wouldn’t pay him to do it.

“They shouldn’t pay me anything. I’ll pay them,” Eastwood says, apparently underscoring the actor’s belief in paying his dues.
Spielberg says Play Misty opened the industry’s eyes to Eastwood’s directorial chops — a confidence the actor proved again with The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), which Eastwood considers one of his best directorial efforts.

“I think Clint has changed the paradigm of his own image several times in this industry,” Spielberg says.

Indeed, the doc ignores a period from the late ’70s to ’80s when Eastwood’s directorial (and acting) career seemed to become cliché, trading on a legacy that lent itself to forgettable cop dramas (The Gauntlet, The Rookie), odd vanity projects (Bronco Billy, Honkytonk Man, Pink Cadillac) and stabs at comedy (Every Which Way But Loose, Any Which Way You Can).

Notably, Eastwood Directs focuses on Clint’s cinematic evolution from a flawed vigilante cop to introspective auteur, beginning with the 1991 Western Unforgiven, which earned seven Oscar nominations and Best Director for Eastwood.

“There comes a time in your life where you can’t just beat up every person,” says Joel Cox, who edited many of Eastwood’s films.

Eastwood Directs will be released as a standalone DVD (paired with The Eastwood Factor) Sept. 3 at $12.97.

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