Every Which Way But Loose (1978)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Every Which Way But Loose</strong> (1978)

(On Cable TV, March 2017) Clint Eastwood hasn’t done many comedies in his career, and Every Which Way But Loose may help explain why. While an undeniable popular (if not critical) success at the time, it’s a film that now feels almost humorless despite clear attempts at being funny. Eastwood himself barely cracks a smile, a joke or anything looking like self-deprecation in a movie where he’s asked to plays a brawler tracking down an unwilling love interest from Los Angeles to Denver. (A premise that has its own set of problems…) Among the film’s many distinctions is how it takes place in blue-collar settings halfway between cowboys and truckers, refuses to give its hero what he wants, and remains almost laugh-free even as it plays with big comic targets: yes, this is the film where Eastwood pals around with an orangutan and punches neo-Nazis in the face. The episodic structure does the film no favours, and the seriousness through which the comedy is approached doesn’t lead to extra laughs either. As an anthropological look in the working-class seventies, Every Which Way But Loose is mildly interesting … but as a look at one of the top-grossing films of the time, it’s more mystifying than anything else. Apparently there’s a sequel that closes the loop on some of the film’s most distinctive aspects…

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