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  Any Which Way You Can Clint's Funny Turn
Year: 1980
Director: Buddy Van Horn
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis, William Smith, Harry Guardino, Ruth Gordon, Michael Cavanaugh, Barry Corbin, Roy Jenson, Bill McKinney, William Connell, John Quade, Al Ruscio, Dan Vadis, Julie Brown, Glen Campbell, Anne Ramsey, Logan Ramsey
Genre: Comedy, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Philo Beddoe (Clint Eastwood) makes his money as a bare knuckle boxer, and today he is taking part in a match held by the police force who have their own man, reputed to have beaten a platoon of Marines, they believe will put Philo in his place and win them a substantial amount of cash. But as he points out, he was never a Marine, and his renown as an unbeatable fighter is well deserved, with him besting the cops' brawler fairly easily, one minor female distraction apart. Philo's best friends are Orville (Geoffrey Lewis) and Clyde, an orang-utan, but only one of them likes to take a shit in a police car when the opportunity arises...

Yes, you can see the level of humour this sequel to the worldwide hit Every Which Way But Loose was operating on straight away from the opening moments, not something which was going to amuse the critics, but by relentlessly aiming for the lowest common denominator in generating its laughs this was, if anything, an even bigger success than its predecessor. 1980 was the year Clint Eastwood released a more personal comedy in Bronco Billy, but audiences didn't want to see one of the movies' most celebrated tough guys going soft, it was the attraction of watching him beat people up and trade quips with the ape that was the box office bonanza.

In fact, the way this played out Clint was often finding himself here playing second banana (hah!) to Clyde, with the creature conveying an impressive range of tricks to entertain the viewers, including giving bad guys the finger (always a popular choice - why did Cheeta never do that in a Tarzan movie?) and the most famous bit of business, throwing out one paw on the instruction "Right turn, Clyde!", often to whack some hapless fool in the face and send them flying. These easy amusements were rather tempered by persistent rumours that the orang-utan playing Clyde was beaten to get him to perform, and he did die shortly after the movie wrapped, but the stories were contradictory.

Certainly Eastwood had nothing but praise for the animal, and no wonder when it was doing most of the heavy lifting, giving the excuse for a rambling plot to veer this way and that from Philo's last big match with the formidable William Smith to the excursion to the local zoo so that they can kidnap a lady orang-utan for Clyde to have his way with. That part gives rise to the weirdest stretch in the movie, as not only do Philo and country and western singing on-off girlfriend Lynn (Sondra Locke) check the beasts into a motel, but their lovemaking makes them horny too, then the elderly couple (Logan Ramsey and Anne Ramsey) in the room next door get in on the act, and as if that wasn't enough (it was) Ruth Gordon shags the motel owner too, this after he has seen a vision of her wizened face on Bo Derek's body.

What the hell?! That section was probably the strangest bid for comedy in the whole of Clint's occasional attempts at the genre, but it did offer him the opportunity to put his incredulous expression into play not once, not twice, but practically for the entire movie. Although Any Which Way You Can and its first instalment were seen as trying to cash in on Sylvester Stallone's Rocky phenomenon, as many efforts did, watching it now it appeared more like Eastwood was trying to win over fans of Burt Reynolds' good ol' boy comedies, a canny move for these two works were among the biggest successes of his career. Whether this proved you could never aim too low, or whether it meant moviegoers were well served by the major action stars of the era who knew what they wanted, be it farcical Hell's Angels, bar room brawls or funny animals, was for you to decide, but this did add up to some strange humour for all its man of the people appeal - you've never heard so many bestiality jokes in a family movie. Listen out for Clint and Ray Charles singing the theme song.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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