55 Cranky Years of Clint [Tall Drink of Nerd]
“What are you fellas staring at? I’m not a pole dancer.” growls cranky old Gus (Clint Eastwood) in a trailer for Trouble with the Curve. Eastwood is once again playing a grumpy old man. But wait a minute. In the middle of watching that clip, a lightbulb illuminated above my skull and I was overcome with the sudden realization that pretty much every character Clint has ever played has been a curmudgeon. He didn’t start this grumpy schtick when he got grey and wrinkly. Even that young, gun-slinger eating western spaghetti (did I get that right?) was a put-upon anti-hero with a hair up his heinie.
Testing this revelation, I made a visit to IMDb, reviewing the work of Mr. Eastwood for any comedies he may have tried his hand at. Nothin. Well, maybe Every Which Way But Loose could be considered funny, but he was still pretty grumpy in that one. While I was laughing my ass off at his take on Invisible and Crass: The President and I at the recent Repub convention, I don’t think that show will make his filmography, nor do I think he shook the cloak of cantankerous-ness in that performance.
Why do we love such a crusty character? And boy do we love us some Clint! Eastwood has been popular for 50+ years because we see ourselves in the everyman he portrays. Trust me, even the most perky and positive-zen-light among us have days where we wish those damn kids would just stay off the lawn/turn down that music/pull up their pants/get a damn job.
Alternately, we want to be the one who saves the irascible lonely jerk from his own foul mood. Ya see, while Clint is cranky or difficult, he’s never downright mean. Sure he left Eli Wallach standing on a gravestone with a noose around his neck; ok, so he shoots punks and lives by his own rules in 1970s San Francisco; yes he is a hired gun that kills for money but, and this is huge, he protects the weak and innocent and will lay down his own life/career/peace-of-mind in that protection. Any one of these Clint characters obviously deserve our love. Our love can heal him. With us around, caring for him in spite of, or because of, his grumpiness, Clint starts to smile. He makes jokes, not the zings that cover up his pain, but the soft, inside jokes that shows he knows we care.
We love that character for who he is, knowing that somebody will love us, even when we’re old and curmudgeonly, just the same way.
Here’s some Clint clips, watch em or don’t. Just get offa my lawn.
Seriously – Get off my lawn (Gran Torino)
Opinion of Personnel Department? (Dirty Harry)
You still here? (High Plans Drifter)
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