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Any Which Way You Can (1980)

Like plenty of sequels, this Clint and Clyde follow up to Every Which Way But Loose has most of the old gang dropping in yet doesn’t quite measure up to the good ole’ boy fun that the first film captured. Still, with Ruth Gordon returning as Ma it does deliver a few laughs along the way.

Clint protégé, Buddy Van Horn, takes over the directing duties from James Fargo and the script from Jeremy Joe Kronsberg pretty much picks up the story where it left off in the first film released in ’78. Clint, Clyde and Geoffrey Lewis as Orville open the film as Eastwood resumes his street fighting for money gig taking on the pride of the police force. The top cop might be an ex-marine but Clint makes short work of him and a few more enemies along the way.

While Clint’s patented on screen punch is jabbing directly into the camera, a subplot begins that sees mobster Harry Guardino running various underground gambling rings. Under his employment is a street fighter of note and all around movie screen badass, William Smith. He’s so good that Guardino can’t get any opponents. Enter Clint’s Philo Beddoe. Gaurdino sends a foot soldier, Michael Cavanagh, to hand over 10K to Clint and the promise of 15K more upon fight night. Clint can’t refuse the big payday and that’s just fine with Ruth Gordon. Now if she could just get her hands on that advancement of 10K. Looks like she’ll have to outsmart Clyde to find it. Not likely.

Did I fail to mention that Clint’s gal Sondra Locke is back for another go around as well? It wasn’t intentional I assure you but honestly I’ve yet to meet an Eastwood fan who approved of his frequent costar. Please feel free to voice an opinion below on the matter. Either way she’s back groveling to Clint apologizing for the way she dumped him at the end of the first film. Thankfully she’s appearing on stage at Clint’s local hangout with the likes of Johnny Duncan, Fats Domino and Glen Campbell who all make cameos delivering some fine honkytonk music.

Joining in the reunion are Clint’s rivals the Black Widow’s motorcycle gang who fully intend to even the score after the beatings they took in the first film. Again it’s John Quade as the ring leader with an Eric Von Zipper appeal and most of the gang are back including Bill McKinney, Roy Jenson and Dan Vadis returning for more amusing punishment from Clint and Clyde.

While the comedy might be straining for laughs at times with bedroom humor and most everyone doing their best to engage in sex or at least get some, this sequel is really all about “the fight.” Was Eastwood looking to top the famous John Wayne-Victor McLaglen match from 1952’s The Quiet Man? I’ve always suspected that was the case and while I don’t think he tops the Duke’s fight he sure cast the right guy in William Smith to make the attempt. Smith was a go to villain during the early 70’s in numerous exploitation and blaxploitation affairs. Among his credits you’ll find Hammer, The Ultimate Warrior, Invasion of the Bee Girls and Chrome and Hot Leather to name a few. I can’t speak for every other film geek in my age bracket but this is the role I most often point to when explaining to the average filmgoer just who the commonly named William Smith is. What’s even better is the script makes him out to be a good guy and not the one dimensional villain they could have easily written into the storyline.

Other well known faces turning up are Eastwood regular Barry Corbin, Al Ruscio, James Gammon, real life couple Anne and Logan Ramsey as a vacationing duo who elicit a few laughs, singer Jim Stafford and while he isn’t in the film, I did notice one of Country Music’s better traditionalists, Gene Watson with a credited song on the soundtrack. Speaking of soundtracks, that song “Beers to You” played over the opening credits was a duet performed by Ray Charles and Clint Eastwood. Clint had a definite love for country music during this era of his career. I’ve always called it his country music period. He frequently cast country balladeers in the backdrop or featured them on the soundtrack during the late 70’s and early 80’s culminating with his 1982 release Honkytonk Man where Clint played a depression era country singer looking to make it big on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. A film I’ve long championed among Clint’s lesser known titles.

Director Van Horn made his debut on this effort and would again direct Clint (if anyone really does) on Pink Cadillac and the final Dirty Harry entry, The Dead Pool. Originating as a stuntman he’d return to coordinating them on numerous Eastwood projects up till 2011’s J. Edgar. Fans of Clint will easily connect the dots on many of the actors involved here from his past films. Aside from Miss Locke, Clint’s loyal legion will point to Harry Guardino from the Dirty Harry series and Bill McKinney who appeared in a number of Eastwood projects from The Gauntlet to Bronco Billy among others. On the subject of Geoffrey Lewis, I’ll just assume if you’re a Clint fan then you are by extension a fan of this wonderful character actor who made many a movie better by his having appeared in them.

With the first film being a huge success this sequel proved to be not only a no brainer but a hit as well with movie goers. Is it classic Clint? Not really but it’s still enjoyable and would I have paid to see a real life fight between Eastwood and Smith at the time? You bet, and while I might be going against the grain, I’d have put my money on Smith.

14 Comments »

  1. Also….the leader of the Black Widow Bike Gang later appeared in the Knightrider pilot “Night if the Phoenix” as a 18 Wheeler Driver trying to destroy KITT.

  2. A most enjoyable write up,as you say the film made a packet and gave Clint the freedom to concentrate on more personal
    less box office projects like BIRD and WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART.
    I don’t want to say anything bad about Sondra Locke,who sadly passed away recently,except to say that I really enjoyed
    the films that they made together., A favourite BRONCO BILLY has just been announced as a July Warner Archive Blu Ray.
    In an interview I read with William Smith he stated that their epic fight was the longest ever without using any stunt doubles.
    Smith also stated that Clint accidentally broke one of his (Smith’s) ribs but never let him know as he knew that he would feel
    bad about it…..what a guy! William Smith also stated that Clint sure knows how to make a movie!
    To this day I still cannot figure it out why Smith has never appeared in a Tarantino movie-he would in my opinion be perfect.
    Finally on being asked by an interviewer on his reputation as being “The hardest man in Hollywood” Smith replied that title
    belongs to Leo Gordon!

    • I too like Bronco Billy. Great info on Smith. Thanks and I too have wondered why he hasn’t turned up in a Tarantino flick. He’s a perfect fit for a cameo of some sort. Love that story on Leo Gordon.

  3. As you know I’m a big fan of Eastwood’s films, and when I saw his two ape movies in the theater as a teen, I thought they were quite fun. But I guess in my advanced age I’ve either become less patient, less forgiving, or maybe somewhat of a cinematic snob, because when I watched these again years later, well…let’s just say I really enjoyed watching Beverly D’Angelo in the first, I was really steamed when she wasn’t in the second, and I thought the big fight sequence at the end of the second one was pretty cool.

    And I thought Sondra Locke did fine in ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’, but it seems after that she was always cast as a bitchy, unlikable character in his films, which in turn made her hard to root for, or even watch. Which seems odd, considering she and Clint were an item off-screen. Who knows, maybe it was her choice to be cast in those roles, and she enjoyed playing those types of characters.

    • I was going to mention her absence in the second film but bypassed that negative. I saw this one at the theater but not the first if I recall correctly and yup they were great fun. I did have a good time revisiting them a few years back cause of course my two boys were the right age and it was fun to sit in with them. So I guess I still chuckle and I do like the singers and soundtracks. Good point on Locke, maybe it’s that her characters are just not all that likable.

      • It’s been about a decade since I last watched either of them, so I’ll need to re-visit them and see how I feel today…see if I’ve softened up a bit. The way I feel about the ’70s and ’80s these days, and the nostalgia I feel towards that time of my life, I may find myself liking them again!

  4. Mike, at first I didn’t know if here was the time and the place,but as you have showed interest I thought I’d expand on the Leo story.
    I guess Smith heard this tale from his Laredo co star Neville Brand.
    Anyway,according to the Smith interview when making GUN FURY director Raoul Walsh had an intense dislike for Neville Brand and Lee
    Marvin. Leo Gordon who he actually liked,for some reason had also upset him so he thought,knowing Leo’s temper,would get back at
    all three of them. There is a scene where Leo is asleep in a cabin and Brand and Marvin are supposed to shake him awake. Walsh
    told the duo that Leo’s a tough guy so no play acting just go for it which they did. Leo at this point totally lost it and knocked the crap
    out of Brand and Marvin,hence Smith regarding Leo “The Hardest Man In Hollywood”
    How much is true,especially with the tale being third hand but it’s an amusing one all the same.
    Don Siegel considered Leo “the scariest guy he had ever met”

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