Universal brings to DVD four of Clint Eastwood's post spaghetti western films,and they show a star on the cusp of super-stardom.Two directed by Eastwood himself(The Eiger Sanction and Play Misty For Me) and two by his good friend director Don Siegal(Coogan's Bluff and The Beguiled).
Let's take each film from what I consider the best and end with my least favourite.
Play Misty For Me,1971,concerns the story of a Carmel,California DJ(Eastwood).He starts getting regular on air phone calls from a listener requesting the song Misty.Clint has been trying to woo back an ex girlfriend,so far unsuccessfully,when said Misty requester finds his local watering hole and gets him at just the right time.He beds her but she keeps coming back again and again,many times unannounced and taking too many liberties unnerving Clint.He tries to straighten her out first politely then forcefully ,but she will not stop trying to contact him.Clint does finally succeed in getting his ex back but his indescretion is haunting him day and night.Things turn very violent and nasty as she terribly maims Clint's housekeeper,kidnaps his ex and kills a policeman.Clint barely excapes with his life.
Misty still packs quite a punch and will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.Jessica Walter really plays the part of his stalker beautifully.
Coogan's Bluff,1968,concerns an Arizona policeman(Clint) who comes to New York to take into custody a felon who is wanted back in his jurisdiction.Upon arrival he is told his "charge" is in Bellevue and won't be out for some time.It's a "don't call us,we'll call you" thing which Clint chafes at.He goes to the hospital to get him on the pretense he has permission from the NYPD.At the airport he is jumped by the felon's co-horts and he escapes.It's a mad hunt all over New York and Clint comes in contact with some very strange and grubby people.A wild motorcycle chase in a park ends in the final take down of his prisoner and his return to Arizona.
It was a tie whether to list this one next or The Eiger,but I think this JUST edges it out.It's a pretty straightforward story but an interesting one and the pace nevers weakens too much.The 60s really creep into the story line however.Watch for that crazy discoteque Eastwood is forced to go into.
The Eiger Sanction,1975,concerns a top secret organization of the US Government that wants Eastwood to return to their fold to do another job for them,after one of their agents was taken out in Europe.After much persuasion and more than a little coersion,Eastwood finally agrees.It seems the man they want is going to be climbing the Eiger Mountain in Switzerland but they are not sure who it will be.Eastwood must find out before HE is killed.Eastwood trains with an old buddy in the States but is hounded by an ex military buddy,now working for the other side.Before he leaves to climb,he is forced to eliminate him as he finds out it was he who supplied the other side with the info on who to kill in Europe in the first place.The climb is upon him and the only info he has is that it is someone with a limp.All but Eastwood die and in a strange twist in the end he finds the man he was to kill was close to him all the time.
This film hasn't lost much of its' appeal either.It has an interesting story line but at times it tends to get bogged down in itself,but usually not for long.Jack Cassidy does a great turn as a homosexual who comes to his untimely end and George Kennedy,his old friend..
Finally The Beguiled,1971.Eastwood is a corporal in the union army who is wounded near a seminary for girls run by a head mistress played by Geraldine Page.He is almost captured a couple of times but is saved by Page.However Eastwood is not the saint(Quaker,to be specific)he is pretending to be.His presence disrupts the seminary and it brings to the fore suppressed feelings amongst a 17 and 22 year old and the head mistress herself.Eastwood is like the fox in the proverbial hen house and when the 22 year old catches him with the 17 year old,a tussle ensues and Eastwood goes careening down a spiral staircase.His leg is broken and the head mistress decides to amputate just above the knee.When Eastwood learns of what she has done he is in a vengeful mood.Before he can do any harm he is poisoned and carried dead outside the gates of the seminary.
This is one of the oddest if not THE oddest film Eastwood ever did.And it is probably the only one that portrays Eastwood in the role of a bad person;a manipulating cad to the girls and women in the film and a lecher to us.In the scene where he gets his leg amputated,while they don't actually show the process,you hear every little scrapping pass of the hack saw.It makes one cringe and it is something they should have left out.From the reception this film got it is likely Eastwood learned that the public wanted their man on the up and up and portrayed in a more positive light.This is an Eastwood film that has always been the lowest on my list of his films.
Despite what YOU may think of each film,I must tell you Universal has done a tremendous job in their releasing of these films.Each film has been digitally remastered to perfection here and they are in the best shape they have ever been in.An absolute joy to watch.
There are three discs included here.The first one has Play Misty For Me,the second The Eiger Sanction,and the third contains The Beguiled and Coogan's Bluff.The first two discs contain the special features which include a featurette looking back at Play Misty For Me,one on Eastwood's directing and acting at the same time,photo galleries and others.
All in all this is a set worth I recommend to all Eastwood fans out there.This is an Eastwood on the verge of superstardom and on a personal basis,it was Play Misty For Me that really put him on my radar screen way back when and I have been a fan ever since.Remastered beautifully this release is bound to please his fans and maybe even make new ones.