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.