memories of the ’70s – Every Which Way But Loose

After a string of action films as Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood became a brawler with an orangutan named Clyde and on a mission in Every Which Way but Loose.

Directed by James Fargo, the storyline focuses on Philo Beddoe (Eastwood) a truck driver living with his orangutan  and making money in bare knuckle fights.

He becomes smitten with Lynn (Sondra Locke) an inspiring country singer, who disappears one day, so Beddoe decides to head to Colorado to track her down, with the help of his buddy Orville (Geoffrey Lewis) and his new girlfriend Echo (Beverly D’Angleo).

Along the way he encounters a biker gang, many obstacles, keeps fighting and eventually finds Lynn, who didn’t really want to be found. But he gets the chance to fight his idol, Tank Murdock, the ultimate bare knuckle fighter.

After his years of spaghetti westerns and playing cops, many advised Eastwood to reconsider this action comdedy film.

Released in December 1978 by Warner Bros., the film was disliked by most critics. Variety said the film was “…so awful it’s almost as if Eastwood is using it to find out how far he can go—how bad a film he can associate himself with…”.

Every Which Way But Loose became a hit with movie fans, who ignored the critics –  this was the first film to have an opening weekend that exceeded US$10 million.

The film’s soundtrack included major country stars, with Eddie Rabbit singing the title track, and additional songs contributed by Charlie Rich and Mel Tillis. Songwriter Snuff Garrett was hired to write songs for Sondra Locke’s character.

Made for a paltry US$5 million, the film eventually grossed US$105 million, and became one of the top 10 films of the year.

And Eastwood hit the Hollywood A list – with an orangutan in tow.

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About Waheeda Harris

A freelance journalist with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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