Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
Eastwood engages in some monkey business
When it comes to movie stars, they don’t get much bigger than Clint Eastwood. For over 50 years, the man has been raking in big dollars and basking in critical acclaim. He may be best known for his iconic roles in the Man With No Name western trilogy, and in the Dirty Harry films. But he is just as accomplished behind the lens, having won two Academy Awards for Best Director. Plus he is an accomplished musician who has composed songs for many of his films. Not to mention the fact that he was once mayor of the town of Carmel, California.
In short, the man has done a lot in his 80 years on this Earth. This week I will be discussing his greatest accomplishment, the 1978 comedy classic Every Which Way But Loose.
In Every Which Way But Loose, Eastwood took on a more off-beat role than what his fans had grown accustomed to. Clint played Philo Beddoe, a truck driver who also makes money on the side by competing in bare-knuckle boxing matches. I personally think it is so sad that our bare-knuckle boxing pugilists are so under paid that they have to resort to working second jobs, in this case as a truck driver.
But Beddoe gets by and doesn’t complain, living with his goofy best friend Orville, and his mother, known simply as Ma. Oh, and his orangutan Clyde, who he won in a fight.
Now as much of a fan as I am of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, I can’t help but think that the sport would be far more entertaining if primates were awarded to the winners of championship bouts rather than title belts. How awesome would it be to see Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell duking it out for the Light Heavyweight Chimp-ionship. Now that would certainly be worth the $49.99 pay per view bill.
Beddoe embarks on cross country journey to find a lost love, and is joined by Clyde, Orville and Orville’s lady friend, Echo. Along the way they run afoul of some bikers and police officers, but Beddoe’s mighty fists are always there to KO any trouble they get into. The viewer is brought along on an enthralling journey that delivers on many levels. Eastwood provides the action, while his furry co-star Clyde brings the funny.
Eastwood has worked with some big names in his career. Morgan Freeman in Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County. Kevin Costner in A Perfect World. Let me tell you, Clyde the orangutan has more talent in one opposable thumb than any of those actors have in their entire body. Unfortunately, Clyde is no longer with us. He died a few years after this film in a terrible case of animal cruelty. He may have only made two films, but he made an indelible mark on the motion picture industry.
Every Which Way But Loose is top-notch entertainment. What is unfathomable to me, however, is that Eastwood was advised against starring in this film. Hollywood insiders thought he should stick to what he knows best – shooting people. Now I’m all for someone playing to their strengths, but sometimes you must venture out and try new things. Things like costarring with orangutans. Frankly, I feel some of today’s top stars, your Clooneys, Damons and Cruises of the world could benefit from engaging in a little monkey business.
It worked well for Clint. This film and its 1980 sequel Any Which Way You Can are his two highest grossing films, when adjusted for inflation, making hundreds of millions of dollars. Any way you look at it, that’s a lot of bananas.