Clint Eastwood Sounds Like High Plains Grifter At Republican Convention

Clint Eastwood at Republican convention

Clint Eastwood has starred in and/or directed some of the smartest, most thought-provoking movies I've seen in the last 10 years. And that's making it very hard for me to get my head around his trite, addled performance at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night.

I'm not bitching about Eastwood's politics. I'm pretty certain that I don't share his ideology, but I can't help but respect someone who's not afraid to be politically unpopular in largely liberal Hollywood.

I only wish Eastwood's courage and convictions translated to a more articulate speech and an appearance that didn't make him look like a GOP pawn. For one thing, what possessed him to let the RNC appropriate the  silhouette of his High Plains Drifter character for Mitt Romney's coronation?  The Stranger, as that character was billed in the movie's credits, ran silent but deep — a far cry from Romney who runs silent and empty.

Then there was Eastwood's assertion in his speech that there are "a lot of conservative people" and moderates in Hollywood, but that they play their cards "close to the vest."

They must because the filmmaker could only name one famous fellow conservative: Jon Voight. That Eastwood followed Voight's name with the statement: "These are all people that are like-minded," made me wonder if he needed to up his Centrum Silver dosage.

Eastwood, 82, also shot himself in the foot (with a .44 Magnum) when he derisively told the Tampa convention crowd that he wept during Obama's inauguration. "I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there’s 23 million unemployed people in this country," said Eastwood, ploughing past the faulty construction of that sentence and adding: "That is a disgrace, a national disgrace."

Maybe he believes that, but, Eastwood, who made a career out of playing characters, such as Harry Callahan, who ferreted out the ugly truth, didn't even acknowledge that the unemployment rate may have something to do with the financial meltdown that took place in 2008 under Republican President George W. Bush's watch.

Instead, he blithely trotted out a few more facile statements about how bad things are under the Obama administration before closing with his old Dirty Harry catchphrase, "Make My Day."  Like many of the lines that preceded it, the remark was trite and half-baked — a far cry from such thoughtful, moving films as Hereafter, Gran Torino and Million Dollar Baby that have made Eastwood such an original and powerful filmmaker.

Clint, you didn't make my day. You ruined my night.

Follow Frank DiGiacomo on Twitter.

Follow Movieline on Twitter.


  • Ann says:

    Republicans are such hypocrites! They condemn support from “celebrities” until they’re the ones soliciting support from the likes of Clint Eastwood. Such phonies.

    President Obama still leads in the majority of the latest national polls. He will be re-elected, thank God!

    • Gman says:

      If anyone has seen the movie Wallstreet the Michael Douglas character Gordon Gecko...that is Mitt Romney. That is how he made his money, part owner of Bain Capital. They borrow money to take over companies and saddle that company with the debt they borrowed to take control of. Then they layoff the longtime employees to reduce expenses.

      Take a typical Bain transaction involving an Indiana-based company called American Pad and Paper. Bain bought Ampad in 1992 for just $5 million, financing the rest of the deal with borrowed cash. Within three years, Ampad was paying $60 million in annual debt payments, plus an additional $7 million in management fees. A year later, Bain led Ampad to go public, cashed out about $50 million in stock for itself and its investors, charged the firm $2 million for arranging the IPO and pocketed another $5 million in "management" fees. Ampad wound up going bankrupt, and hundreds of workers lost their jobs, but Bain and Romney weren't crying: They'd made more than $100 million on a $5 million investment.

      That is a so called "Man of the people"? I for one do not believe so....

    • Aidimu says:

      Agree! I don't understand their criticism of actors expressing their opinion. Isn't that one of the founding principles of this country, the freedom to express ourselves. The Republicans continue to act as though any other political persuasion but theirs is unpatriotic. They have a lot of fear from those that differ in almost any way! I prefer diversity, which is how the world was made, it makes things much more interesting!

  • Jan Kubicki says:

    Clint, it's time to hang it up. I hope your next movie flops big time.

  • The Pope says:

    In Tampa, no one can hear you say... WTF?

  • I hope Eastwood keeps making films, but stops making political speeches.

  • John says:

    The only idiots are the ones that believe Obama is doing this country good. Wake up Dumb Asses Oba
    ma is an Idiot and he is THE PROBLEM.

    • Gman says:

      Do you really think Obama's 4 years were worse than the disaster that was the Bush years....really? The entire countrys economy almost shut down by the end of his 2nd term.

  • robbushblog says:

    Ann- Clint Eastwood is no mere celebrity. He is both a pop culture and national icon. There's a diifference. Feel free to encourage the Democrats to use Jane Fonda at their convention.

  • deangarr says:

    How many ways can one say, "mistake"?
    Republican convention went off the rails with this one.

    Is this a taste of what Republican good judgment looks like?
    What the hell were they thinking?

    This was the last night of the Republican convention.
    And we are given this?

    I am going to try to forget this misstep by this great actor, director.
    Right now, I can only managed to feel sorry for him.
    And to feel sorry for the poor bozo who talked the convention committee into this stunt.

  • I've been watching and loving political conventions since I was 9 years old and Clint Eastwood just pulled off the best televised convention stint EVER!!

  • Aidimu says:

    It's hard to explain why he did that poorly thought out skit. I wondered if maybe he was nervous about speaking at the RNC, as he's really rather reserved. So possibly he had a few too many to loosen up but went a tad overboard and got a bit too loose in the tongue. It's regrettable having that image of him etched in my mind since he wasn't a character in a movie, it was really him! Or maybe that was it . . . he was attempting to disguise himself with that ruse in hopes that no one would notice it was actually him! He should stay away from stand up too, as that's definitely not his forte! Has anyone interviewed him to see what he was thinking? He's probably laying low for awhile! Ughhh, I feel bad it was so distasteful!

    • I have watched political conventions since I 9 years old when the television was black and white.Clint's panomiine stint was the highlight of a half century! The fact he drove the libs nuts mocking their empty suits was icing on the cake. The only legit question I have is whether his hair was intentionally messed up and my educated guess as a producer is had to be.

      • Aidimu says:

        The commentary following his stint claimed there were more than just liberals who were uncomfortable with it. I did have the thought his hair was messed up deliberately, but why? What was that slovenly image trying to evoke? If it was intended, how do you explain his unsteady posture? That was subtle enough it didn't look deliberate, if anything, it looked as though he was trying to minimize his wavering stance. It just wasn't anything like any public appearance I've seen of him. He looked drunk and that isn't dignified for such an important public stage. By the way, it's spelled "pantomime" not "panomiine", I thought a producer might try harder to edit his own words!