EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE—any old way but smart. In the 14 years since For A Few Dollars More relaunched his career, Clint Eastwood had starred in 20 movies, a long slew of violent thrillers, cop flicks and westerns, barely grazing comedy (Paint Your Wagon, some of Kelly’s Heroes). In this lunkheaded swipe at funnybones, he went whole hog—or ape—producing reviews puzzled by the aggressive dumb-down and loosing a see-Clint-punch stampede at the box office. He obviously didn’t underestimate the level of audience intelligence. Clint. Bare-knuckled duking. Country music. A nasty chick. Bikers. And ‘Clyde’, a lovable orangutan. Load up the truck, hit the drive-in, bring two six-packs and a bong. 1978’s 4th most attended motion picture.
‘Philo Beddoe’ (Eastwood) is a laid back fella, except when he’s pummeling the crap out of chumps in boxing bouts around the blue-collar West. Doofy brother ‘Orville’ (Geoffrey Lewis) tags along, while bad-tempered ‘Ma’ (Ruth Gordon) minds the porch back in “the Valley” (San Fernando, duh) and cusses like a longshoreman (Gordon isn’t cute: she’s unbearable). The guys are accompanied by their pet simian Clyde, who easily gives the best performance. Clint’s squeeze Sondra Locke plays another nasty “user”, this time a budding country singer (cue several songs by her and guest artists) who Philo falls for: he’s kind of a dope. Meanwhile, an inept biker gang prowls around what was called a script, scrawled by Jeremy Joe Kronsberg, directed by James Fargo, who’d done Eastwood’s The Enforcer.
Eastwood showed loyalty to buddies by casting familiar plugly faces from his rep company, and locales visited include California (Bakersfield, Van Nuys, North Hollywood, San Fernando, Ukiah, Sun Valley), New Mexico (Taos, Albuquerque, Santa Fe) and Colorado (Denver, Georgetown, Aurora). Five million dollars went into the working vacation, and at least $85,200,000 came back (possibly $104,268,000, sources conflict). Enough to guarantee a lazyass sequel, Any Which Way You Can.
With Beverly D’Angelo (wasted), John Quade (leader of the ‘Black Widows’, he gets a few laughs), Bill McKinney, Roy Jenson, Walter Barnes (‘Tank Murdoch’), George Chandler, Dan Vadis, Hank Worden, Sam Gilman, Gregory Walcott, James McEachin. Harry Guardino cameos. Country ‘sangers’ doin’ their thang: Charley Rich, Mel Tillis, Phil Everly. 114 minutes.