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Time film critic Schickel (Brando: A Life in Our Times, 1991, etc.) interviewed Eastwood at length for this volume, and although the word "authorized" is not stamped on the cover, this is by no means an objective appraisal of Eastwood's life and films. Eastwood grew up in and around Oakland, Calif., hung out at jazz clubs, endured a stint in the army, and struggled as a little-utilized contract player at Universal Pictures before the TV series Rawhide put him on the map in 1959. Schickel is doggedly completist about reviewing all of the actor's credits; a single guest appearance on Mr. Ed requires two pages of background, synopsis, and hyperbolic pontification ("It could be said, indeed, that this was a historic occasion"). Schickel smugly stresses the extent to which Eastwood's critical standing has improved over the years, halting frequently to pummel Pauline Kael for her Eastwood animus. Eastwood is notoriously taciturn; in the comments he offers here he avoids messy self-revelation with the same efficiency and economy that govern his aesthetic in films like High Plains Drifter and Unforgiven. Schickel glosses over Eastwood's unfaithfulness to his wife and subsequent women in his life as "one of the ways he defines freedom." An early '80s flirtation with the right-wing wacko Bo Gritz—Eastwood financially supported Gritz's mercenary incursion into Laos to find Vietnam-era POWs—is similarly treated as an understandable, well-meaning mistake (at least Eastwood is appropriately embarrassed about the adventure).
While Schickel's not on Clint's payroll, his book reads like the longest publicity release in history.
Posted May 18, 2012
Ive not read the book but hes equally a great actor as well as director loved every thing hes directed and starred in ill consider putting this on my to read list now thative been spoiled w/the nook dont have tobuy a paper back copy buy it for the nook and i can take it with out an audience cause when reading in public others are nosy iknow because i tend to look and see what others are reading natual couriosity i guess
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Posted November 25, 2002
Schickel has a body of intelligent writing behind him. As the years have passed, film criticism and biographies from Walt Disney, James Cagney, Marlon Brando, have shown a slide in quality until we get this: an authorized biography that is poorly researched, shallow, and a long-winded celebration of questionable talent. Unlike great critics whose ability sharpen with age, Schickel¿s capacities are falling across the board with choices that have less impact in film art and then ¿analyzing¿ with dearth of reason. Eastwood¿s directorial credibility becomes questionable in light of the failure to appropriately critique even the celebrated ¿Unforgiven,¿ a flaccid and dark pseudo-Western. The tone becomes very smug as Eastwood¿s auteur rating soars in the 1980s through foreign film societies of questionable value. As far as artistic credibility goes, Schickel doesn¿t dare compare Eastwood to great directors such as Bergmann, Lang or Coppolla. The closest he can come is to mention better American directors like Ford and Huston. As an actor, Eastwood has never come close to an Academy Award and there is a reason for that, but that is something that never crosses Schickel¿s mind. Sleep walk through Eastwood¿s life as he teaches swimming in the Army, hob-knobs with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and becomes mayor of a small California town for two years. If this sounds interesting, there are a lot of other similar details scattered around all of the praise for the Swiss Army Knife of cinema. This is an embarrassingly fawning biography, uncontroversial and boring. It strongly tarnishes Schickel already eroded track record as an objective, incisive writer. Although there are some nice black and white pictures.
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Posted March 25, 2009
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