Clint Eastwood: The ITV4 Diaries

How five films saved one man's week (that's me, by the way)

Now and again, the splendid purveyor of lads’ fare that is ITV4 serves up its ‘Clint Eastwood Season’, which is usually a week or so of films starring the great man. However, there was a five-day spell earlier this year where it was worth its weight in gold. I found myself working ‘unsociable hours’ at this particular time and the TV schedules weren’t looking too welcoming for my return each night. Yes siree, things seemed pretty grim until I discovered that one of Hollywood’s finest was riding into town to liven things up, so here’s my lil’ ol’ story.

Monday: Absolute Power (1997)

Safe in the knowledge that Clint was going to rescue me from the abyss, myself and my two pet guinea pigs kicked back for the first offering, Absolute Power. Something of a surprise, this, as I was expecting a bit of ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan or a gritty western; basically the sort of safe and steady ground that ITV usually roll out when it comes to Mr Eastwood. Now normally, his flicks make me want to reach for an ice-cold beer, but this was more of a dry martini affair (not that I had any to hand). With Gene Hackman as co-star, and the main man playing a genius thief rather than a gunslinger, it promised much and mostly delivered. Overall, a decent kick-off to the week.

Tuesday: Coogan’s Bluff (1968)

This was somewhat closer to ice-cold beer territory, although I chose to resist the temptation. Clint plays a deputy sheriff in this one, so it’s probably his first venture into law enforcement of the (almost) legal kind and I dare say a useful introduction for any film students wanting to chart the origins of Dirty Harry-style tactics. Even the guinea pigs enjoyed the more spaghetti western-esque pistol sounds in this better-than-average outing, and they’re both damn harsh critics I can tell you.

Wednesday: Pale Rider (1985)

Pretty sure everyone – yes, everyone – knows all the 118 ad jokes off by heart now. One thing I’m certainly familiar with is this flick, although I still have to switch channels when one of the band of outlaws shoots the dog at the beginning (just hate that sort of thing). That said, I never tire of seeing Clint as ‘The Preacher’ dish out what’s coming to them, in what is the first western of the week and undoubtedly the highlight so far – but as the end credits roll, have things peaked at the halfway mark?

Thursday: Magnum Force (1973)

The clip above goes a little way to explaining why this is one of the former Mayor of Carmel’s finest and is probably the one I’ve seen more than any other. Four nights is long enough to wait for Dirty Harry to make an appearance, but he’s always worth the wait so I’ll let the schedulers off. Suffice to say, the answer to last night’s question is a resounding ‘no!’ The only drawback to watching this is the stunning West Coast scenery making me yearn for a holiday that the bank balance is currently unable to fund – why do I put myself through it?

Friday: The Enforcer (1976)

And so, finally, we’d reached the final night of the five. Although Friday night telly shouldn’t, as a rule, be too shabby, and there’s the added bonus of ‘that Friday feeling’, I thought that I may as well stick with the Clint Eastwood Season seeing as I’d come this far. Besides, I’d kind of feel like a bit of a traitor to the guy if I didn’t, so what was to be the final instalment of this fabulous fivesome? A second outing for Dirty Harry, no less, doing a distinctly un-PC turn – it was the 1970s, remember!

So there we go, and with the weekend well and truly arrived it was time to part company – for now. I’d just like to say thanks, Clint, and if I owned a ten-gallon hat rather than a shocking pink (but very fashionable) trilby, I’d take it off to you.

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