Clint Eastwood, Riding Westward

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Clint Eastwood, Riding Westward Leonard Engel, ed. Clint Fastwood, Actor and Director: New Perspectives. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2007. Filmography. Index. 269 pp. $21.95 paper.

The first thing I looked for upon opening this book was the John C. Tibbetts frontispiece watercolor, since I had been told to expect it. Len Engel even wrote in his Acknowledgments, "I want to commend John Tibbetts for his character portrait of Clint Eastwood," but, alas, it's not there. What a shame! I had seen the original painting; I knew it had been submitted. So what happened? Would the book present other disappointments, I wondered? Well, maybe so, maybe not.

Friends of the Literature/Film Association and some Literature I Film Quarterly contributors as well are represented in this Eastwood anthology. There is, for example, an Eastwood interview on "The Machinery of Violence" in Unforgiven that originally appeared in LFQ, as I recall (and, since I solicited that interview, who would recall it better?); in reworking the interview for Leonard Engel, the author might have mentioned where it first appeared. Elsewhere, Walter Metz has his say about "Masculinity and Age" in Eastwood's films, and Dennis Rothermel takes on Mystic River. But the members of our tribe are outnumbered here. There are a half-dozen essays by other hands on the earlier Eastwood Westerns, for example. And there are essays by the editor's Quinnipiac University colleagues: including Raymond Foery on The Bridges of Madison County and John M. Gourlie, who co-wrote the Introduction with Engel and also wrote the final chapter on Million Dollar Baby.

The Introduction argues that Eastwood's career as star-actor and director deserves to be re-evaluated, but who would argue to the contrary? Over time the actor has matured, obviously, and, after all, no one is likely to confuse Dirty Harry Callahan with the insufferably sensitive Robert Kincaid or the reformed but still competent gunslinger Will Munny. …