I topped off my nostalgic trip down horror lane of last night with a classic Clint Eastwood film, Coogan's Bluff. I couldn't believe my eyes when I uncovered this on DVD at my video store. I saw this many times on television about the same times as I was at the flicks watching Hellraiser etc. More than any of those three horrors this movie really rolled back the years.
Coogan's Bluff was one of the staples of New Zealand television during the 1980's. It is like The Towering Inferno which I reviewed several weeks ago. Both aired repeatedly anytime the stations needed a movie to fill a vacant slot. You know, like Inferno, it must be 25 years since I last saw this film and I was really looking forward to seeing it again. I always liked it as a teenager so I left it to last after the horrors.
Well I wasn't disapointed. I am surprised that I remembered nothing of this film even after having seen it so many times. The great thing about this Eastwood outing is he was inadvertantly between characters. He had by 1968 left behind Blondie/The man with no name and had yet to become Dirty Harry. It is an important film in his career as he left behind the trap of being stereotyped as a western only actor.
It is an over looked film in Eastwood's career. It is surprisingly good but certainly not his best film. What I particularly liked is that here he plays a deputy sherrif with a streak of mean but also with a very light heart. This is Eastwood leaving behind the hard image he had created for himself. In Bluff he is very much a ladies man and this is one of the few films he ever made like this. He is tough with the crooks when he needs to be but he has a very soft side to. He can certainly 'charm' the women!!
It is this dual type personalilty that makes Bluff so interesting. The next time Eastwood appeared on screen as a cop he was a hard bitten mean basterd by the name of Callahan. It is interesting to speculate whether Bluff was an experiment by Eastwood and the film industry to see if he could fill the role of cop with an eye to giving him the future role of Dirty Harry. To me it feels like it.
But this must not detract from Bluff as a stand alone film. Eastwood is good, and especially as the ladies man. He wears a cowboy hat and boots well, and is both soft, reasonable, and hard within one character. The typical Eastwood humour is there and I really laughed out loud at a couple of lines.
I just cannot tell you how much I enjoyed watching this movie after so many years. I loved it then and still do. It is a change of direction for Eastwood that ulimately led him to super stardom as he hefted a .44 magnum. It isn't his best film, but when you really think about it Eastwood never appeared in anything really bad. Average maybe but never bad. I suppose Coogan's Bluff is average but it is that all important step Eastwood took to becoming one of the most immortal cops ever filmed.
Thoroughly enjoyable! And like The Towering Inferno, a film that has stayed with me.