Trying to distill the cinematic legacy of an actor/director like Clint Eastwood into a mere 20 films is basically a fool’s errand, as there is no algorithm which can successfully produce a set that will please everyone, but Warner Brothers at least gets credit for taking a decent stab at it, even if the end result is still something that you can only imagine being given as a gift.
Starting out with 1971’s “Dirty Harry” is certainly a strong beginning, and things stay strong with the decision to follow it with the second Harry Callahan film, 1973’s “Magnum Force,” but even though they do include “Sudden Impact” later in the set, skipping “The Enforcer” and “The Dead Pool” is a sure way to ensure that Dirty Harry fans will say, “Well, if they’re not all in there, then I don’t want it.” (Then again, it’d also result in the existing “Dirty Harry Collection” selling fewer copies, so that’s probably the rationale behind the decision.)
You can’t really blame them for including “Every Which Way But Loose” but leaving out the sub-par sequel “Any Which Way You Can,” but it’s more than a little eyebrow-raising to see that “Letters from Iwo Jima” without its companion piece, “Flags of our Fathers.” It can at least be said that all of Eastwood’s best Warner Brothers westerns are included in the set, with “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “Pale Rider,” and “Unforgiven” making the cut, but there are still some inclusions and omissions that seems somewhat odd.
Sure, you can accept “The Gauntlet” making the cut because it was the first film he directed for Warner Brothers, but the inclusion of the decidedly dated “Firefox” seems likely to have been inspired by someone in the WB accounting department saying, “Y’know, if we put that one in instead of ‘Honkytonk Man,’ then we won’t have to license as much music.” (On that note, “Bird” probably never had a chance in Hell of making it into the set.) Also, I’m not saying they don’t exist, but if you can find me someone who prefers “Hereafter” to “Tightrope,” I’d love to meet them.
Okay, enough bitching. It’s not a perfect collection, but “Clint Eastwood: 20-Film Collection” is certainly plenty of hours of good movies that, for the most part, look really damned good. Also, in addition to the bonus materials which carry over from the previous releases of the films, there’s also the highly worthwhile inclusion of two documentaries: 2010’s “The Eastwood Factor,” which is available elsewhere, and the new “Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story.” You might not want to buy it, but you can’t say it isn’t worth owning.
Tags: Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry, Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story, Every Which Way But Loose, Firefox, Hereafter, Letters from Iwo Jima, Magnum Force, Pale Rider, Sudden Impact, The Eastwood Factor, The Gauntlet, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven