Go Ahead Son. Make My Father’s Day
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s was pretty skill. It may have looked a bit rubbish at the time, but the music is now beyond cool. It saw the birth of dance music, Hip -Hop, had synths all over the place and more (we’ll always have a soft spot for big-haired rock, too).
It’d be easy to bang on about nostalgic kid’s TV and oh, how it’s changed (Night Garden, anyone?). We can certainly gloss over Thatcher and the rotten to the roots Yewtree bunch.
Culturally, it’s firmly on the map and still resonates deeply. But it’s film, a glorious film that sits alongside music as the cornerstone of my cultural character.
Way back in monochrome times, the heroes were straight up good or evil. Cowboys and Gangsters. And then a new wave of directors and actors shook up the system. Scorsese, Spielberg, De Palma… the list goes on. Edgy, social commentary, brave horror, new aesthetics.
It was great (and still is) watching John Hughes movies, repping The Goonies, sneakily watching a dodgy copy of The Exorcist or brown paper bagging video nasties from your local video store but among all this change, was a man, nay a living legend, that straddled the ‘old’ world after arriving from TV, and the brave new world of modern cinema.
Yep, we’re talking Clint goddamn Eastwood. The thing about growing up with Clint is that you never openly wanted him to be your dad (he’d definitely be ‘hands off’ and just give you that steely glare with a gruff, bowel shaking warning if you played up) but you kinda did as he’d kick ass if anybody tried nicking your Raleigh Chopper. A quick muss of the hair, or wry smile with a ‘you done good, kid’ would have, well, made your day.
You could watch his 70’s films (a bit later, in the 80’s as most of them became classics, to be oft repeated on TV and in cinema) with your own dad. He was the archetypal loner. Troubled, but with a conscience. Dirty Harry was pretty much the mould for ‘troubled renegade cop’ that’s been seen 1000 times since.
He’s eminently quotable. You can try and do an impression (fail), but it’s sitting there with your dad, that you learn about machismo, men’s place in the world (and how it was changing) and how not even an orangutan called Clive or a prison named Alcatraz could temper this raw hunk of XY chromosome.
The thing is, he’s transcended his on-screen persona. Not all the way, but enough to call him a true renaissance man. He writes, directs, produces and acts, with no signs of slowing down in his eighties.
He’s like a filter for American history, making biopics and stories around music (Bird & Jersey Boys), World Wars and army life (Letters from Iwo Jima, Heartbreak Ridge, Flags of Our Fathers) to being a figurehead for Westerns as though he was actually there himself (Pale Rider, the man with no name trilogy and Unforgiven).
It’s Unforgiven (1992) that we see him at his creative peak. It’s a masterful film that runs on a simple code: you do bad, and bad will happen to you. It’s the Western equivalent of ‘one last crime caper’, yet as we see him in the beginning, he’s rolling around in pig shit with two young children (his character definitely had some lead in his then 62-year-old pencil). We’ll skip past calling social services (he left his kids ALONE! for two weeks to do a job). Kids grew up a lot quicker then, I imagine.
We do see a slightly softer side to Clint, as he turns out be a reluctant father figure to The Schofield Kid. A wannabe killer that gives it the large, but is short-sighted and never actually killed the 5 men he boasted of. The kid winds up seeing how the ‘sins of the father’ leave you. Unable to escape your past, no matter how hard you try.
As a dad himself, Clint has been pretty busy (with a whole brood under his belt), but it’s Scott Eastwood that’s talked about him in interviews. He’s also an actor, seen in Suicide Squad, as well as starring with his dad in Gran Torino. The overarching opinion is ‘old school’, and that Clint never gave him a nepotistic leg up. Good on ya Clint.
It’s no surprise, that being so old school, Clint has had a long-standing relationship with one studio – a hark back to the studio contract days where you were a player for life. Go on, check out one of his classics, plot up on the sofa, catch up on the man himself. Maybe with your (teenage!) kids. Show them what a true Alpha male is (then get back to making dinner, working full-time, helping with homework and being a ‘modern man’).
A big thank you to the Warner Bros team for giving us the chance to revisit ‘Unforgiven’ in style. Look out for the hashtag for F-Day #WBFathersDay for more goodies.