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  Every Which Way But Loose One Man And His Ape
Year: 1978
Director: James Fargo
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis, Beverly D'Angelo, Walter Barnes, George Chandler, Roy Jenson, James McEachin, Bill McKinney, William O'Connell, John Quade, Dan Vadis, Gregory Walcott, Hank Worden, Ruth Gordon, Manis
Genre: Comedy, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Philo Beddoe (Clint Eastwood) is a trucker who supplements his income by participating in bare knuckle boxing matches, and he is a highly skilled fighter except that in all his years of brawling he still hasn't met up with the notorious unofficial champion of the sport, Tank Murdock (Walter Barnes). No matter, when Philo can brush up his talents in such situations as arise today, when he is helping himself to handfuls of peanuts in their shells from a local bar, much to the irritation of one of the patrons; he is confronted, the patron takes a swing at him and ends up on the wrong end of a punch or two in the face, all of which Philo takes in his stride.

But what does he need the nuts for? Or rather, who? Why it's his pet orang-utan Clyde (played by Manis), who provided much of the mirth way back in 1978 - well either mirth or disbelief that Clint Eastwood was co-starring in a movie with an ape sidekick. Yes, the establishment thought Clint had gone soft in the head when this was announced, and went on to disparage the production on its release, but no matter, its leading man was laughing all the way to the bank when Every Which Way But Loose cleaned up at the box office to become the second biggest hit of the year, behind Superman. It may not have been intellectual, or thematically rich, but a lot of people liked it at the time.

It's certainly easy to watch, and nothing quite says 1978 in America like this film does, but was it really as bad as the critics made it out to be? Of course not, actually in places it's very funny indeed, it's just that for most of the running time, punch-ups aside, this is so laid back that you half expect the cast to bring the filming to a halt and settle down to relax with their feet up along with a six pack of beer and "sports" on the television, gesturing to you to join them and shoot the breeze as you all gradually grow sleepier, then nod off with a half-empty can casually balanced on your belly. Not exactly a rip-roaring thrill ride, then, but it does wonders for your peace of mind if you're looking to wind down.

Funnily enough, there is a plot, and it's a road movie one where Philo takes a fancy to a country and western singer he sees in a club. She is Lynn Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke, Eastwood's romantic partner at the time), who travels the bars to make her living, but doesn't seem to keen on having Philo around - or does she? He can't work her out, and neither can we for that matter as she blows hot and cold with him, eventually running out on him to go her own way. Philo isn't going to be consigned to her past that easily, so makes up his mind to head off after her, tracking her trail through the Californian towns until they finally meet again. She's pleased to see him, er, or maybe she isn't, as the character isn't too well written and adds up to a mass of contradictions.

But let's get this out of the way: Every Which Way But Loose is not the movie where Clint keeps saying "Right turn, Clyde": that was the sequel, Any Which Way You Can, which many accuse of being exactly the same, although this one has less of the orang-utan (different one, too: Manis was unavailable for the sequel after his demands grew too outrageous for the producers to handle, diva that he was). In truth, Eastwood has a nice rapport with his hairy co-star, far more convincing than the one with Sondra Locke, but it's the humour that makes this worth your time, whether it's Ruth Gordon shooting up the biker gang's motorcycles or Clint giving it the full Tarzan yell when he's triumphant after being confronted by the two cops he previously beat up accidentally. No, this was not a stretch for anybody involved, least of all you watching it, but it is goodnatured and won't give anyone nightmares.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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