An intriguing look at an America original.
After four decades working in the movies, Clint Eastwood can officially be considered an American icon. His career has included such films as The Bridges Of Madison County, The Outlaw Josey Wales, In The Line Of Fire, Dirty Harry, Any Which Way But Loose, and the Oscar winning Unforgiven, just to name a few. In 2001, Warner produced Clint Eastwood: Out Of The Shadows, a documentary centered around the life and art of this mythic man of film.
Facts of the Case
"Hollywood careers are full of make-or-break moments. For Clint Eastwood, one such moment came when studio powers agreed to let him make his directing debut with Play Misty For Me—provided he would direct for free. Eastwood didn't hesitate to agree.
That story and others comprise this portrait of the famed Hollywood icon, narrated by Morgan Freeman. From bit roles to Oscar gold, from 16-year-old barroom pianist, to jazz emissary, from Dirty Harry controversy to Western classics, to Space Cowboys, Eastwood's career is explored via a captivating array of film clips, interviews and more."
I'm not sure I can say that Clint Eastwood: Out Of The Shadows is a definitive look at Eastwood's life in films. As through as it is, this documentary merely skims over some of Eastwood's work rather than diving in. Some of the movies (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Dirty Harry, Unforgiven) are scrupulously examined while others (The Dead Pool, Space Cowboys) are given only a passing glance. Maybe the reason for this is that Eastwood's career is just too large and looming for a short 87 minute documentary.
That complaint aside, Clint Eastwood: Out Of The Shadows is a very interesting look at the man, the myth, and his movies. As stated in this film, Eastwood the man is very much like Eastwood's film characters—private, mysterious, and filled with complexity. Since I know little about Eastwood's life off-screen I was happy to sit down for a retrospective on his career. Eastwood's first film was in Revenge Of The Creature, a sequel to the popular Universal classic The Creature From The Black Lagoon. From there Eastwood went on to play the character Rowdy Yates in the classic TV show Rawhide. After seven years on TV Eastwood created a definitive Western character in movies like Sergio Leone's A Fistful Of Dollars and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Not content to just act in movies, Eastwood parlayed his status as an actor into a director, helming films such as Bronco Billy, Absolute Power, and Bird, a very personal project about jazz legend Charlie Parker (Eastwood himself is a huge aficionado on jazz music and its history). In his later years Eastwood starred in a few more "Dirty Harry" sequels, became an Oscar winning director, and even ran for mayor (and won) in the small town of Carmel, California. Along the way there are discussions of Eastwood's impact in film, the culture, and in friend's personal lives. Through it all Eastwood as embodied a quite modesty that has left Hollywood and fans impressed and in awe.
Clint Eastwood: Out Of The Shadows should please fans looking for rare behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crews of Eastwood's films. Interviewees include actors Gene Hackman, Rip Torn, Forest Whitaker, and James Garner, directors Martin Scorsese, Curtis Hanson, and Don Seigel, composer Lennie Niehaus, Clint Eastwood's own mother, and Eastwood himself (among many other studio executives, literary figures, and Hollywood veterans). Everyone seems to have a high opinion of Clint, and we're often given a rare glimpse at his childhood via photographs and recollections of those who know him best. This documentary basically stays in chronological order, starting from Eastwood's meager beginnings all the way up to 2000 with his latest film Space Cowboys.
After watching Dirty Harry and now Clint Eastwood: Out Of The Shadows, I can say that I've been enticed by the persona that is Clint Eastwood. My plan is to start by watching all of the "Dirty Harry" films and maybe try to catch up on the rest of Eastwood's body of work. Clint Eastwood: Out Of The Shadows may not be the most expansive documentary ever created, but it should be a good start for those interested in Eastwood's cinematic career.
Clint Eastwood: Out Of The Shadows is presented in anamorphic widescreen. Since the films are of varying aspect ratios, the documentary often flips from 2.35:1 to 1.85:1. The quality of the material in this documentary is of varying degrees—much of it is crisp and clean while other shots (some on video) are soft and grainy. Since this is a documentary, many imperfections can be forgiven due to some aged and weak source material.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English. This soundtrack works fine within the confines of the documentary. Except for a few film clips, there wasn't much need for any type of Dolby 5.1 remix. Dialogue, music, and effects were all crisp and clear of any distortion. Also included on this disc are English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean subtitles.
No special features are included on this disc.
Eastwood buffs will definitely want to own this documentary for their collection. While the disc itself is nothing special, the program itself is well worth watching—it will "make your day" (oh, come on…you know I had to say that at least once in this review).
Both Warner and Clint Eastwood: Out Of The Shadows are free to go! Case dismissed!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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