Every Which Way But Loose
Release year: 1978
Director: James Fargo
Screenwriter: Jeremy Joe Kronsberg
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis, Beverly D’Angelo, Walter Barnes, George Chandler, Roy Jenson, Ruth Gordon, James McEachin
Philo Beddoe (Eastwood) is somewhat of a local legend as a fist-fighter and spends his days winning fights, drinking beer and hanging out at the local bar with best friend Orville (Lewis) and his orangutang Clyde. One day searching the area for country music, local fights and cold beer, he meets country singer Lynn (Locke) who is worse troublesome than any contestant he as met and almost floors him when she suddenly leaves town. Soon him and Orville hits the road to find her followed by a group of bikers seeking revenge.
One of Eastwood’s (Dirty Harry, 1971) most famous roles is that of Philo Beddoe legendary fist-fighter accompanied by what is probably the most known orangutang in the movie business. It was the first comedy role for the tough-looking actor and therefor an uncharacteristic part and one which he hasn’t repeated much in his further career. But the movie became one of his biggest hits and spawned a sequel two years later (Any Which Way You Can, 1980). With his famous scowl and hard looks Eastwood fits well into the role as the tougher than tough Philo and with his deadpan delivery of one-liners the comedy works well, especially helped by Philo’s hilariously grumpy mother and his one-of-a-kind pet animal. Where many movies starring animals make the mistake of making it appear too human, Every Which Way keeps the human-ape-thing tamed to a degree that makes it charming and funny without ever getting to the point where you roll your eyes and sigh. Clyde stays fairly in the background and becomes a big a part of the peculiarity that are part of the humour in the movie. Lewis (Double Impact, 1991) delivers a convincing performance as the kind-hearted hillbilly friend of Philo while Gordon (Rosemary’s Baby, 1968) is a hoot as his takes-no-crap mother. As his leading lady, his at the time real life girlfriend Locke (Sudden Impact, 1983) shows a great screen presence and naturally good chemistry with Eastwood and their little romance brings nice twists into the story. One could argue that there isn’t much sense to the story, especially as Philo hits the road to find his lost love and the movie becomes a series of unfortunate events, change encounters and run-ins with enemies. But it’s the type of movie that doesn’t need to make sense, it just needs to entertain and boy, does it entertain! Add a delightful country music soundtrack and you got yourself some nice entertainment for an evening.
The movie’s title is derived from Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”. Tea Cake, the second husband of the book’s central character Janie, tells his wife about a fight he had with a man with a knife. Tea Cake boasts that he “turned him every way but loose”, fighting him not without allowing the man to stab him.
Famous primatologist Jane Godall claimed in her book ‘Visions of Caliban: On Chimpanzees and People’ that the orangutan playing Clyde was made docile with maze and beaten severely on set.
Sondra Locke did her own singing in the movie.
Picture copyrights: Warner Home Video