Whenever I watch an Elvis movie I wonder for a moment why the Elvis experiment has not been repeated. A series of movies, built around a pop-culture personality, where the performer is more or less playing the same character over and over again regardless of the situation (or even the period) and gets into wacky adventures. And the viewers' enjoyment of the movies is based in part on their familiarity with the series, like on television, where we delight in watching Homer Simpson enter into a situation because we've seen him react so hilariously in similar situations. We laugh before he even acts.
Watching Two Mules For Sister Sara
, it occurred to me that Clint Eastwood, a contemporary of Presley, not only took the "Elvis Movie" concept to heart but applied to it an intelligence and sensitivity that has created a corpus pretty much unparalleled in American cinema (except maybe for Chaplin, and Eastwood's East-Coast nemesis Woody Allen) -- for 45 years now, Eastwood has revisited this "Clint Eastwood" character he created, put him into this or that situation (revolutionary-era Mexico, post-Civil-War Montana, modern-day Detroit) and let the plot do its job, confident that the audience will want to check in with "Clint Eastwood" and see how he's feeling these days. The difference between Elvis and Eastwood is that Elvis was a hapless pawn in the grip of cynical chicanery, and Eastwood is a born cinematic artist, which means that the "Elvis" character never developed, but Eastwood's has: he's grown, and grown older, he's embraced and resisted change, he's matured and mellowed, he's become haunted and regretful. One can watch Eastwood from A Fistful of Dollars
to Gran Torino
and come away with a kind of cinematic biography of a character.( Read more...Collapse )