Saturday, April 17, 2010

"The Witches" and the alarming rise of the anti-Clint

Title: The Witches (better known as "Le Streghe")
Released: 1965
Genre: Art house bullshit
Notable for: Being almost unknown by Eastwood fans, or anyone else, for that matter
Clint's subliminal message: "Cowboy? I am an act-tor!"

Why Clint agreed to make this movie is a mystery. It is a blessing to both him and the world at large that almost no one has seen it.

Eastwood fans who manage to track down "The Witches" will be alarmed and despondent to see images of Clint picking nose hairs, smiling stupidly, snoring, losing interest in sex, swishing and spitting and generally being a boring, buttoned-down American husband who cannot satisfy a hot-blooded Italian wife. Plus, we almost see his pecker.

Shudders. No other Clint Eastwood film is dominated by such dark and powerful forces of the anti-Clint.

"The Witches" was made between the second and third of the spaghetti Westerns that launched Clint into movie stardom but, due to legal issues, neither of those first films were yet released in the United States. Clint was famous only in Europe as the grimacing, deadly cowboy.

Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis sought out Clint for "Le Streghe," a showcase movie for actress Silvana Mangano, the producer's wife. The film has five separate stories shot by five directors, and Mangano stars in all five stories.

Clint's segment, which lasts 19 minutes, is last. Our review of the first four parts is: 1.) boring and too long; 2.) dumb but short; 3.) a weird farce that at least holds attention; and 4.) sorry, lost interest.

"It is so desperately trying to be artistic, and it's stupid," Andy said.

Clint plays a guy enmeshed in domestic futility while living in Rome. He complains his life is "family to the office, office to the family, back and forth." He falls asleep on his wife when she wants to screw.

The story alternates between boring reality and Mangano's fantasies. The climax comes when she imagines herself stripping (unfortunately, no nudity is shown) in front of thousands of cheering men as Clint kills himself. Then she snaps back to reality, moans "I love you!" to the sleeping Clint, and the film ends. Yeah, right.

De Laurentiis clearly thought it amusing to cast Clint in a light-comedy role opposite of his image. To drive home the point, a figure of Clint wears a cowboy hat and shoots pistols during the opening credits. In one scene, Clint and Mangano talk about going out to a movie and he reads a listing of films playing in Rome. Near the middle of the list, he says, "Fistful of Dollars, western."

Like we said, it is a mystery why Clint agreed to do it. He looks uncomfortable in his role, which is the right reaction.

Legend says Clint was swayed by the offer of a Ferrari car as part of his pay. He probably also succumbed to that egotistical actor's thing about not wanting to be type-cast. Good thing he got over that.

Can we draw masculinity lessons from the anti-Clint? Yes. The lesson: A man is not afraid to take chances by doing something unexpected, even when he should know better.

This film never went into general release in the United States and evidently it was never big in Italy, either. The movie is so rare an L.A. Times blogger reported it was once thought lost. Securing the English-dubbed version was one of the greatest logistical triumphs of The Clint Eastwood Project.

To capitalize on our triumph, we are seriously considering burning DVDs to sell on eBay. Who knows how much money we can make off Eastwood fans before Clint's lawyers notice and seek restraining orders to keep a lost film lost?

Settlement proposal to Eastwood legal team: We won't do it if you give us a Ferrari.

Next up: "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your overall assessment, it's a junk vanity project, but I enjoyed the Pasolini sketch and Eastwood's segment isn't bad. Still seems like a waste of time and talent.