CLINT: The Life and Legend

Patrick McGilligan, Author . St. Martin's $35 (612p) ISBN 978-0-312-29032-0

Certain stars encourage our appetite for scandal, but Clint Eastwood is an actor people identify with and want to like. This presents an acute problem for those who read McGilligan's carefully researched and well-written—but highly unflattering—unauthorized portrait of the icon's life. McGilligan vilifies Eastwood as a womanizer with two priorities: "fast cars and easy women." The author takes potshots at Eastwood's lack of education, suggesting he lied about finishing high school, then slanders his patriotism by speculating that he romanced a general's daughter to escape service in Korea. When a girlfriend became pregnant and had an abortion, Eastwood claims it "crushed his heart," provoking McGilligan to question whether he was simply trying to evoke sympathy for himself. The book is entertaining when it describes Eastwood's early period as a contract player, thrown into such potboilers as Ambush at Cimarron Pass. His TV years in Rawhide are comprehensively covered, as is his association with director Sergio Leone in the series of spaghetti westerns that launched him to superstardom. McGilligan's analysis of Eastwood's moviemaking points out that he "rips the masks off women and they are revealed as murderous harpies" in such films as Play Misty for Me and High Plains Drifter. His much publicized relationship with Sondra Locke spotlights a streak of cruelty, along with competitive behavior toward directors because "Clint hated anybody who was weak." McGilligan's tome is worth reading, however, when it delves into Eastwood's contributions as an artist who has produced a body of work that's won two Oscars and an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award. Illus. not seen by PW. Agent, Gloria Loomis. (Aug. 19)

Reviewed on: 07/22/2002
Release date: 08/01/2002
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