Wednesday, February 8, 2012
A Fist Full of Dollars (1964) – The subtext of the film is a criticism of President Johnson’s negotiations for the Panama Canal replacement which was to cost US taxpayers $150 billion over a 15 year period.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) – The landmark spaghetti western was actually an indictment of the Italian fashion and cosmetics industry for using animals in product testing
Paint Your Wagon (1969) – Eastwood’s first foray into musicals met with mixed reviews. The film was intended to counter the hippie music of Woodstock and turn the American public back the wholesome style of Broadway show tunes.
Two Mules For Sister Sarah (1970) – This western features Shirley MacLaine as nun on the run from a band of French soldiers. The selection of transportation across the Mexican wasteland is clearly a critique of the AMC Gremlin, Ford Pinto and other compact cars which were being launched into the marketplace at that time.
Dirty Harry (1971) – The first of the Harry Callaghan films introduced us to the cop whose disrespect for the law was matched only by his pursuit of justice. Thus began a string of films endorsing Presidents Nixon and Ford for their willingness to bend the rules to get results at all costs. A gap of seven years in the movies occurs from 1976 (when Jimmy Carter took office) to 1983 when “Sudden Impact” was released to laud President Reagan’s rapid re-ignition of the US economy.
Every Which Way But Loose (1978) – Eastwood’s first “comedy” exposed movie audiences to his lighter side, but masked a scathing indictment of the U.S. Mint’s decision to introduce the Susan B. Anthony dollar into circulation.
Unforgiven (1992) – This gritty western about two retired gunmen setting out for one final “hit” is clearly an allegory of the U.S. government’s refusal to sign the UN convention on Climate Change and Biological Diversity in Rio De Janeiro that same year.
The Bridges of Madison County (1995) – The romantic tale of a lonely woman’s affair with a visiting photographer provided Meryl Streep with another of her many Academy Award nominations. The film also showed that Eastwood’s political interests are not limited to the US alone. The parallels between the forbidden love of the two characters and the referendum for Quebec independence from Canada are too hard to ignore.
Million Dollar Baby (2004) – Contrary to opinion, the Oscar winner is neither a criticism of the violence in boxing nor an endorsement for the right to euthanasia for the critically ill. In a surprise twist, the film is actually metaphor for the recall of California Gray Davis and election of Arnold Schwarzenegger the previous year.
Space Cowboys (2000) – The rollicking good tale of four elderly test pilots finally getting their chance to fly in space captured the imaginations of audiences of all ages. Eastwood’s position on gay marriage (with Vermont legalizing same-sex civil unions that same year) is displayed clearly in several critical scenes, although the phrase “re-entry” is not spoken in any of them.