After iconic performances as the man with no name, and Dirty Harry, it's somewhat humorous that Clint Eastwood signed on to play the lead in 'Every Which Way But Loose.' His advisors were utterly against their client appearing in such a screwball, nonsensical film, but even they had to swallow their tongues when Eastwood led the film to great success, in fact, it was one of his strongest box office earners, so successful, the film about nothing spawned a sequel.
The moral of that story applies to the film itself: never underestimate the pull of a man and his monkey. Especially if that man is Clint Eastwood.
Philo Beddoe (Eastwood) is a rough and tumble trucker, ladies man, bare knuckle boxer, and owner of two American institutions: a chevy pickup truck, and Clyde, his ill tempered orangutan. When Philo meets Lynne Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke) after a gig, he falls cowboy hat over boots for the singer, who up and leaves him in the dust. Philo's not the kind of man to take a hint, so he, Clyde, and his neighbor Orville (Geoffrey Lewis) set off to find the runaway country musician, encountering a pissed off Nazi biker gang, equally pissed off cops, a sharp shooting vegetable stand clerk named Echo (a baby faced Beverly D'Angelo), simian booty calls, and the occasional street fight. All's in a days work.
If ever there were a film with no point, it would be 'Every Which Way But Loose,' rambling through the relationship drama, buddy road trip comedy, and madcap action genres like there were no distinction. There is no real conflict, no antagonist, no purpose or sense to be made of the proceedings, just the journey of a man who is all heart and muscle, with little to no brains behind them.
Eastwood is fantastic (as always), providing solid comedic timing mixed with the oddest sense of urgency for a man with no real purpose in life. His chemistry with his monkey costar shines through as the most memorable theme of the film. You can see the love Philo has for his furry companion, and vice-versa, and don't question it, despite the bizarreness of the situation. Clyde is perfect, the only creature on Earth with more piss and vinegar running through his veins than Philo, stealing vehicles, flipping off adversaries, and fetching beers, putting any relationship between man and dog to shame.
I can see some people scratching their heads while watching this film, especially over 30 years later. Philo picks fights over territorial disputes about bar peanuts. Bar peanuts. As if there were a shortage of free snacks in the world! The Black Widow biker gang is a tad ridiculous, rarely ever busting out guns, despite the fact that their vehicles are constantly destroyed or stolen. They have the numbers game covered, and the firepower more than handled, yet they are constantly one upped by a simple minded redneck who is more Forrest Gump than he is Dirty Harry. The leader of the gang, Cholla (John Quade), is something special, short, fat, and hairy, wearing an ascot and jackets without shirts that cover his rug, with a black widow tattooed on his gut, shaved all around it. In a word or seven, he's utterly repulsive to taste and fashion. Orville's mother, 'Ma' Boggs (Ruth Gordon) is a distraction to the already scatter brained plot as well, with her constant failures at her DMV tests just taking screen time away from Clyde unfairly.
'Every Which Way But Loose' is the kind of story you'd expect a grandparent to reminisce about: the seriousness of love, the bravado shown in the face of severely outnumbered odds (that grow more drastic over the years), the wit and charm that telling the tale hundreds of times would bring, and the love for friendships that never faded through the years. Does that mean everyone will have the same kind of feelings about the film when thinking about it? Hardly. But those who enjoy the film have plenty to fondly remember here.
'Every Which Way But Loose' arrives on Blu-ray with a VC-1 encode at 1080p that does the film about as much justice as possible without artificially tinkering and ruining the video.
The opening credits give quite a scare, as there's a grain onslaught for the record books on display, coupled with some dirt thrown in for good measure. When the titles end, the picture immediately steps it up a notch, with the grain level dropping down to a minimum, and dirt cleaning up to the point that it is never a distraction, nor are the few scratches on the print.
Detail levels are never all that strong, but the picture is certainly clean, free from any artifacting issues, with no real issues with banding, edge enhancement, DNR, or aliasing to report. Skin tones are natural through most of the film, while outdoor sequences benefit with a bevy of brighter colors on the palette. Blacks are strong, with nice, but nowhere near spectacular, shadow delineation.
There's some grain spikes here and there, and a few other shots that have a purplish/red skin tone and a complete lack of real detail, but those shots are few and far between. All in all, the video for 'Every Which Way But Loose' is very respectable, and is quite solid for the age of the film.
'Every Which Way But Loose' defaults to a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, and since this is a Warner disc, automatically begins play on this track. Keep this in mind, and be sure to press the audio toggle on your remote, or through the menu, to get the lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. Even with lossless, there isn't much here to hear.
The original recording for the film is in mono, so it's tough to expect all that much from surrounds in this lossless track. Motion effects are rarely in effect, though bikes and cars pass through the front channels nicely. Localized audio in the rears is a no go.
Ambiance mostly comes from the front speakers, though a few sequences (the fights) surround you with noise from the crowd chanting on the brawl, though it is hardly as active as one would imagine a fight to be. Music stays in the front for the most part, though Taylor's music seemed to hit the rears stronger than any other bit of music. There is also the tiniest bit of bass in these sequences, and that's practically it for the film in terms of LFE use. Not even the Chevrolet pickup that is in nearly every scene in the film has a bass rumble, nor do the roars of the bike army. Just the music, and a certain old woman's shotgun.
Dialogue is where things fall apart. The words to the film are often overpowered by the light soundtrack or ambient effects, drowning out words both spoken and yelled. Some dialogue is muffled, and not just from other effects, with some distortion evident at times as well. This track is just problematic.
There are no extras on this release.
'Every Which Way But Loose' is a fan favorite for a reason. The mixture of manly action, zany comedy, and romantic drama is superb, with Eastwood and a monkey giving any film duo a run for their money when it comes to chemistry. The Blu-ray release, part of Warner's first budget wave, is a hair below average at best, with nice video, poor audio, and zero extras to speak of. While we wait with baited breath for 'Any Which Way You Can' to hit the format for a double dose of Clyde, a single scoop of monkey antics will do.