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Clint Eastwood

Gran Torino Ending Explained: Clint Eastwood Confronts Dirty Harry

When we first meet Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) at the beginning of “Gran Torino,” he isn’t a very nice man. We might forgive his crankiness a little because he is mourning the recent loss of his wife of 50 years, but then we also get the sense that the worst aspects of his personality aren’t just to do with grief. He hates everybody, and the only bright spots in his life are his dog and beloved vintage Ford Torino. He doesn’t get along with his grown up kids, and he takes grim satisfaction from insulting people who try to help him out.

Walt is also a total bigot, and has no hesitation voicing his prejudices with a stream of ethnic slurs every opportunity he gets. In his neighborhood, he gets plenty; it was once mainly populated by blue-collar white people like himself, but has changed a lot since he first moved in. It’s now very multi-ethnic and has a problem with gang violence, which directly effects his Asian neighbors, the Vang Lor family. The boy, Thao (Bee Vang), is under pressure to join the Hmong gang run by his villainous cousin, Spider. Thao’s unwilling initiation is to steal Walt’s pride and joy, which doesn’t go down very well with Walt.

To apologize, Thao’s mum makes him do chores for Walt. Walt isn’t keen on the idea but eventually develops paternal feelings towards the kid, helping him find a job and giving him dating tips. He is also befriended by Thao’s sister, Sue (Ahney Her), and by extension the whole family. With Spider’s gang still threatening the Vang Lors, must Walt resort to violence to protect his new friends?

Clint Eastwood has helmed around 40 films since his directorial debut with “Play Misty For Me” and starred in many of them. Many of his characters are variations on his distinct persona that he developed in two genres in particular: the western and the crime thriller. His Oscar-winning “Unforgiven” addressed the violence of his laconic western characters, while “Gran Torino” is a conversation with his cop with a very big gun, “Dirty Harry.”

So what happens at the end of Gran Torino?

On the face of it, the ending to “Gran Torino” is fairly straightforward. Thao comes under increasing pressure to join the gang, and they attack him one day on his way home from work. Walt gets involved and beats up a gang member in retaliation. This escalates the situation even further, with the gang shooting up the Vang Lor’s house in a drive-by and beating and sexually assaulting Sue. The family chose not to report either incident to the police, and Walt is furious.

Thao wants to get revenge and asks Walt to help him. As we’ve seen earlier, Walt has no qualms about waving guns around. Walt really cares for the boy now and is dying anyway, and doesn’t want Thao to become a killer. He locks him in the basement and heads out to confront the gang alone on their turf. He draws them out of their house with a lot of yelling and accusations, making sure he also attracts the attention of the neighbors. Calling back to a moment earlier in the film when Walt draws a finger gun on them, he reaches slowly inside his jacket. This time, expecting him to pull out a piece, the gang gun him down. As he dies, it is revealed that he was just taking out his lighter. 

Instead of resorting to violence, Walt has tricked them, laying his life down for his friends so the gang will get sent away for a very long time. It’s a profoundly satisfying ending to the movie, far more so because it inverts what we have come to expect from Eastwood’s screen characters. “Gran Torino” is perhaps Eastwood’s most outright entertaining movie of the 21st century and it works even if you haven’t seen any of his previous films. Where this ending really takes off is when considered in relation to Harry Callahan in the “Dirty Harry” movies.

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What is the connection with Dirty Harry?

After Eastwood’s steely-eyed performances in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy” catapulted him from TV actor to international fame, the role that cemented his status as a Hollywood superstar came in Don Siegel’s seminal action thriller, “Dirty Harry.”

Eastwood played Harry Callahan, a maverick San Francisco police detective on the trail of a killer. He’s a character we’ve seen dozens of times since: a ruthless cop who plays by his own rules, treats his superiors with disdain, and prefers to work alone because his partners have a nasty habit of getting shot. He’s also the kind of guy who shoots first and asks questions later, as in the famous “Do I feel lucky?” scene where he thwarts a bank hold-up by killing one robber and seriously injuring another.

His unconventional methods are pushed to the limit when the city is held to ransom by a giggling hippie maniac calling himself Scorpio (Andy Robinson). Scorpio has already murdered one woman, and promises to kill more people unless the mayor coughs up $100,000. Callahan goes into full-on loose-cannon mode, rampaging across the city after the psycho with little regard for the suspect’s rights.

“Dirty Harry” is a great film — although some critics, including Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert, were quick to write it off its ideas as fascist. It’s far more ambivalent than that, with a screenplay that provokes discussion about the effectiveness of the law, and whether it is fit-for-purpose in extreme situations. In one of its more harrowing scenes, it asks if a murder suspect’s rights should count for anything while their latest victim is hidden away dying in a hole somewhere. Harry Callahan certainly doesn’t think so, skipping due process to torture information out of Scorpio about the missing girl, literally trampling his rights underfoot. It is mean, ugly, and far from a celebration of a fascistic worldview.

One thing we can say about Harry is that he’s a violent bigot who uses detective work as an opportunity for a little peeping tom action on the side. As another cop explains to his new Hispanic partner:

“That’s one thing about our Harry, doesn’t play any favorites! Harry hates everybody: [various ethnic slurs], you name it.”

Despite some critics denouncing it for glorifying police brutality, “Dirty Harry” was a big hit and Eastwood reprised the character in four increasingly tired sequels.

Is Gran Torino Eastwood’s apology for Dirty Harry?

Many have taken “Gran Torino” as Eastwood’s apology for Harry Callahan, much like his revisionist take on his vengeful western persona in “Unforgiven.” At the beginning of the film, Walt is unapologetically racist, takes the law in his own hands, and threatens people’s lives with guns. He is explicitly a different character from Harry, but for the purposes of the message Eastwood wants to make, may as well be Callahan in retirement. John Patterson of The Guardian compared Walt to John Wayne’s character in his final film, “The Shootist,” also directed by Don Siegel:

“Wayne takes all consequences upon himself and refuses to let a boy who idolises him … kill the bad guys. In the age to come, he suggests, young men must find a way to achieve manhood without the shedding of blood. In like manner, Eastwood in “Gran Torino” disavows the violent, racist core of his movie persona — and violence itself — while simultaneously honoring both his on-screen predecessor and his foremost directorial teacher. That’s a neat trick indeed, and a damn fine way to ride into the sunset.”

“Gran Torino” is better at addressing the violence issue than the racist one, and it generated controversy for its non-political correctness and use of ethnic slurs. More recently, Bee Vang (who played Thao) denounced the film for mainstreaming Anti-Asian racism (via USA Today). Watching it back, it’s easy to see where he is coming from. While one of the movie’s goals is to set up Walt as a racist so that outlook can be knocked down, there is an uncomfortable sense that many of his slurs are delivered in a way that seeks laughter. Maybe we’re supposed to be laughing at Walt’s out-of-touch bigotry, but it’s a questionable approach. After all, he isn’t the target of the unacceptable language.

While Eastwood is heavy-handed with the material, it’s clear that he intends his film to reject racist views and redeem himself for one of his most famous and problematic characters. It’s a thorny way to apologize for Dirty Harry, but “Gran Torino” isn’t the same story without depicting Walt’s racism in the first place.

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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood tells of the terrible fire of November 10, but he still has to work.

Clint Eastwood wasn’t going to let a wildfire keep him from getting to work.The 91-year-old actor/director told Ellen on Monday’s episode of how he drove toward a Southern California wildfire last month that was encroaching the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California, where his office has been for 40 years.

Ellen described the November 10 blaze, known as the Barham brush fire, as a ‘really bad fire that came really close to the lot,’ adding that ‘air quality was so bad that everyone evacuated’ – but not Clint!’I was coming back down to do some work at a sound stage and I saw all this smoke going,’ the screen legend said, adding he noticed the smoke plumes emanated from the Warner Bros. lot.

The Tinseltown staple continued: ‘And I’m getting closer and closer and its Warner Bros. and its smoke and I got almost up there and I thought, the whole studio’s burning down, maybe I’ll go in and see if I can retrieve something.’The filmmaker of classics such as Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River and Unforgiven said that the Warner Bros.

Studio was spared of any damage, as the blaze was contained to a nearby hill.’So we went on the sound stage and started working and we forgot about it and … everybody said, “The studio’s been evacuated! And I said, “We’re not evacuated, we’re here working!”‘

The office neighbors where Ellen works out of, and she describes Eastwood as ‘a good neighbor’ who never complains. Ellen showed that she and her staff had helped decorate Eastwood’s office with holiday decor, which Clint called ‘pretty nice.’

He added: ‘A lot better than some of the things she has done. One time she called up and said somebody made a pinata of her and said you have to go out there and take a baseball bat and beat the hell out of it.’Eastwood was on to promote his latest film Richard Jewell, which hits theaters Friday .

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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood’s special dating history with Hollywood beauties .

Actor Clint Eastwood is one lucky guy! He’s dated a lot of gorgeous women in Hollywood, including his ex-wives Maggie Johnson and Dina Eastwood (née Ruiz). But no woman could ever make him feel as incredible as his current girlfriend, Christina Sandera, does.“He’s truly happy with her,” an insider exclusively told Closer Weekly in May 2020. “She’s fun, easygoing and his kids like her too. She’s on an even keel like he is.”

Christina came into the Gran Torino star’s life after Dina filed for divorce from Clint in October 2013. Two months after she sent in the paperwork, the reporter went on Bethenny Frankel’s former eponymous TV show to dish about her separation.“I don’t’ think we will be getting back together,” Dina said at the time. “That is why I filed for divorce. I think maybe a part of me was holding out, like ‘What are we doing here?’

Then there have been some definite signs that we’re not going to get back together so let’s move on amicably is my opinion, but I think there is a mental chokehold on you when you don’t have something in place that shows you are definitely apart.”Although the pair decided to call it quits, Dina explained she has no bad feelings towards Clint. In fact, she said he’s “probably the sweetest guy” she’s ever met. “He is a loving, kind, low-key person, so my intuition was still great on marrying a good person,” the journalist gushed.

By December 2014, Clint and Dina’s divorce was finalized. The Dirty Harry star moved on with Christina and they made their first red carpet appearance together at t he 2015 Oscars. It wasn’t long until the Academy Award winner moved his beloved into the same Carmel, California, home he used to share with Dina.“The first time I saw the place I thought it was terrific,” Clint gushed to Architectural Digest about his beautiful estate in August 2016. “Visually it was something else, and I thought it was the place I’d like to call home.”

Maggie Johnson : Maggie is Clint’s first wife. In 1953, they tied the knot and welcomed two kids together: daughter Alison Eastwood and son Kyle Eastwood. The two lovebirds stayed together for 31 years until they got divorced in 1984.//Roxanne Tunis : In 1959, Clint romanced stuntwoman Roxanne after they met on the set of the western TV show Rawhide. In June 1964, their daughter Kimber arrived in the world.

Sondra Locke : Sondra was in a relationship with Clint in the 1970s. The two actors have starred in many movies together such as The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Gauntlet and Sudden Impact. She died in November 2018 from cardiac arrest. // Jacelyn Reeves : Jacelyn and Clint had a brief fling in 1984. The duo are proud parents to their two kids — Scott Eastwood and Kathryn Eastwood.

Frances Fisher : Clint and Frances were dating from 1990 to 1995. In August 1993, they welcomed daughter Francesca Eastwood into the world. //Dina Ruiz : Clint and Dina were married from 1996 to 2014, and during that time, the couple welcomed a beautiful daughter named Morgan. After they got divorced, Dina went on to marry former basketball player Scott Fisher in 2016.///Erica Tomlinson-Fisher : Although there are no photos of Erica, the Mule star briefly dated her when he broke off his marriage to Dina, per reports. However, their love didn’t last long because Clint settled down with Christina shortly after.

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Clint Eastwood

Why Tom Hanks likens the Clint Eastwood style to entwined horses ?

Veteran actor Tom Hanks has likened Clint Eastwood’s directorial style to wrangling animals. Hanks worked with Eastwood for the first time on Sully, the story of a real-life feat of heroism in which his character, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, safely landed an endangered plane New York’s Hudson river in 2009.

Hanks told the Graham Norton Show: “You certainly don’t want one of those Eastwood looks. “He treats his actors like horses because when he did the 60s series Rawhide, the director would shout ‘Action!’ and all the horses bolted. So when he’s in charge, he says in a really quiet soft voice, ‘All right, go ahead,’ and instead of shouting ‘Cut!’ he says ‘That’s enough of that.’ It’s intimidating as hell!”

Hanks also said that the real Sullenberger made for a strong presence on set, even criticizing Eastwood for his lack of punctuality when he was 20 minutes late. “Sully was very particular about how we portrayed the procedure and the emotions,” said Hanks. “He pulled out this dog-eared, stapled and notated script that he had read. Postits, stapled index cards all over it – I’m sure his wife had even written ‘No’ across it in lipstick! We went through every page and every moment, every beat had been commented on. He had opinions.”

Hanks and Eastwood campaigned for different sides during the recent US presidential campaign. The actor – who was even mooted by documentary-maker Michael Moore as a future Democrat candidate – was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton, frequently speaking of his lack of faith in her rival, Donald Trump, whom he described as a “self-involved” gas bags”.

Eastwood, meanwhile, came out for Trump in August, saying the Republican was “on to something, because everybody’s secretly getting tired of political correctness”. “That’s the kiss-ass generation we’re in right now,” he said. “We’re really in a pussy generation.” Eastwood also said he thought a lot of the backlash to Trump was misplaced.

“We see people people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist. “Everybody, the press and everybody’s going, ‘Oh, well, that’s racist’ and they’re making a big hoodoo out of it. Just fucking get over it. It’s a sad time in history.”Following Trump’s earlier , Hanks election to reassure his fellow Clinton supporters about the future. “We are going to be all right,” he told an audience in New York. “We will move forward, because if we do not move forward, what is to be said about us?”

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