|Flying Squirrel Boxing Productions|
|The KO Picture Show|
|Presents. . .|
|Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
"Are you liable if your monkey punches someone?"
On paper, this movie has so much going against it; it's a wonder that it EVER got pitched to the bigwigs in Hollywood. I can almost imagine how the meeting
went. . . (everything gets wavy) doodley-doo, doodley-doo, doodley-doo. . . . . . .
(Way back in 1977, in some Hollywood bigwig's smoky, paisley-covered office)
Producer #1: Alright. . let's hear what you have for us today.
Producer #2: And make it quick, I have a 12:30 lunch appointment.
Producer #3: Just give us the one line description.
Pitchman: (looks nervous, never pitched a script before, adjusting his ill-fitting, pale green leisure suit) One line? Uh, alright. . um, lemme see <nervous cough>, one line description. . okay, let me think. . .
Producer #1: Hurry it up here, kid. I've got Kris Kristofferson and Ernest Borgnine lined up for the "Convoy" script, and I'd like to get that deal sealed by the end of the day.
Pitchman: Okay. . one line. . here it goes <deep inhale> 'A champion fist-fighter from Southern California named Philo falls in love with a beautiful country singer who abruptly leaves town, so Philo, his pet orangutan named Clyde, and his tow-truck driving promoter/friend Orville track her to Colorado, getting into fights and meeting people along the way, pursued all the while by the law and an entire biker gang who want to send the fighter and his ape to an early grave.' <deep exhale>
Producers #1, 2, & 3: AAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! <falling off their chairs, rolling on the floor> AAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! <gasping for air>
A man named Philo and his orangutan!! NAMED CLYDE!!! OH MY GOD, STOP! I THINK I'M GONNA PUKE! STOP IT! AAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!
Did Bob Evans put you up to this?! F'ing Evans! AAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!
<wiping tears from their eyes>
Pitchman: Clint Eastwood has agreed to star in it.
<long, silent pause.>
Producer #1: OK. We'll send the contracts over to finance today.
Producer #2: A man and his orangutan. I like it.
Producer #3: I think we've got a hit here gentlemen!
(everything gets wavy again) doodley-doo, doodley-doo, doodley-doo. . . . . . .
Yeah, back in '77, Clint was kind of a big deal. Not that he's some chump now (as the 2004 & 2005 Oscars will attest), but after all the westerns and Dirty Harry, Clint could star in just about anything he wanted and it would be a hit back then. Even a movie about a champion fist-fighter and his orangutan. And beyond the fictional one-line pitch above, there really isn't much more to the story. Philo (Eastwood) falls for a pretty young country singer played by Eastwood's then live-in girlfriend Sondra Locke. I've never really seen the attraction to Locke, physically or as an actress, but far be it from me to dispute her casting. I will say that her limited vocal ability is thrown into sharp relief in a movie that features country stars like Mel Tillis, Eddie Rabbitt, and Charlie Rich. Anyway, she catches Philo's fancy and then abruptly leaves town. So Philo packs up his buddies, Clyde the orangutan and Orville (Lewis), and it basically becomes a road movie.
Any scene not containing Eastwood or the Ape is pure filler. They usually consist of Orville's foul-mouthed elderly mother (played by Ruth Gordon), or the bikers and policemen that are on Philo's tail for various reasons. They take some stabs at juvenile humor, but the geriatric cursing wears thin quickly. And to be honest, the slapstick antics of the biker gang were drown out by the fact that they were
A) not all that funny, and B) covered in swastikas. It didn't have that same nazi-mocking, "Springtime For Hitler"-tone that I'm sure they were going for. All the appeal of the movie is in Eastwood switching between his archetypical tough guy role during the fights and, until this movie, an unseen side of him. His goofy side. Even in scenes that fall short of the humor target, when you see Clint grinning you can't help but think, "If the Outlaw Josey Wales is smiling, It MUST be funny." But more often than not, Eastwood shows the flair for comedy that he cultivated in later movies ("In The Line Of Fire" being one of my all-time favorites), and he manages to guide this film through the boring stretches.
The Fightin' - 1 - 2 -3 - 4 - 5 - 6
Even pushing 50, Clint Eastwood plays a convincing street fighter. There's no doubt in your mind that this guy could kick some ass. Of course, any movie with an orangutan in it is probably going to ramp up the camp factor of the fight scenes. Clint doesn't even get touched until the 5th fight of the film, and even then he only gets a trickle of blood down the side of his mouth. Forget emergency medical attention; just get Clint a napkin and he'll be fine. But the fight scenes are fun and loose and hit all the right notes for the most part. My biggest complaint was with some of the camera work during these scenes. Occasionally the camera would get "right in the action", kind of wrestling around with the actors while they tussled. Too close for my taste. It was a gamble on the part of the cinematographer or director, and in my eyes it failed.
Overall Rating - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Not surprisingly (to me, anyway), "Every Which Way But Loose" was a hit. Apparently 'Clint' + 'Ape' = $$$, and a sequel followed. The filmmakers were able to anticipate the public's need for primates on film, before they became strictly children's movie fare. The movie was rated 'PG', so just about everyone, young and old alike, could enjoy a beer guzzling ape that would flip you the bird with minimal provocation. It's was just good, clean entertainment back in 1978. But by today's standards, it seems a little raunchy. I don't think there's any way in hell that this movie would get a 'PG' rating in today's PC climate. As a matter of fact, I don't think a movie like this would get the greenlight today, no matter whose name was attached to it. It's just a different time. And likewise, there's 2 me's from different times reviewing this movie. There's the adolescent me who saw this way back when and wished I had a pet monkey like Clint, and there's the me of today that can't help wondering 'Which establishments in So-Cal would allow an orangutan to sit at the bar, diaperless, chugging Olympias, and giving all your customers the middle finger?' Torn between the 2 me's, I had to give this one a very average '5-count'. I still wish I had a pet monkey though.
|Starring: Clint Eastwood,
Sandra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis
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