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Doug Gamble- Contributor
Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and
in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]
quiet American hero...
[Doug Gamble] 5/25/05
At a time
when our culture rewards abrasive, in-your-face celebrity,
a man whose movie personas embody the quiet American hero and
who lives his life with similar humility is reaching a milestone.
Clint Eastwood turns 75 next Tuesday.
not since John Wayne have so many of the qualities that made
this country great resided in a single
screen portrayals. From action hero roles including soldier,
cowboy and police detective to more sensitive, vulnerable characters
like a magazine photographer and grizzled boxing manager, Eastwood
epitomizes individualism, courage, honor, integrity, patriotism
and justice. And he occasionally throws in a few unsavory traits
just for spice.
is a living link to the golden days of Hollywood and such similar
stars as Wayne, Humphrey Bogart,
James Cagney, Gary
Cooper and James Stewart. While he would never say this himself,
many of today’s breed of actors -- Leonardo DiCaprio comes
to mind -- are punks compared to those like Eastwood who were
produced by the Hollywood of old.
his screen career almost ended before it began. A youthful
Eastwood was fired as a contract player
Studios in the mid-1950’s, in part because his Adam’s
apple was too big and he talked too slowly. He was told he had
no future in acting.
did he have a future as an actor, creating such iconic movie
heroes as Dirty Harry Callahan and making “Go ahead,
make my day” one of the most quoted catch phrases of all
time, including use by President Ronald Reagan, he has emerged
as one of the film industry’s most talented and respected
directors. Starting with “Play Misty for Me” in 1971
-- where affectionate scenes of Carmel, where he would later
become mayor, and his love of jazz were mixed in among the mayhem
-- his directing, like his acting, has become better with age.
Although a conservative, Eastwood does not believe in mixing
politics with pictures. In “Mystic River” he directed two of Hollywood’s
most prominent liberals, Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. And the assisted suicide
twist of “Million Dollar Baby” provoked the ire of some religious
conservatives, although Eastwood insists it was not meant as a statement.
A long time fixture on the Monterey Peninsula, the San Francisco
native is a co-owner of the world famous Pebble Beach golf resort
among other holdings. His commitment to the community is legend,
including his rescue of an historic Carmel hotel facing destruction
and his low key philanthropy benefiting local youth activities
and other causes.
boosting civic endeavors or doing Oscar-winning work as director
of “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar
Baby,” Eastwood shies from the spotlight as much as possible,
a far cry from so many of today’s “ain’t I
great” brand of celebrities. His discomfort with attention
is apparent in the infrequent interviews he grants, where his
reluctance to talk about his achievements gives renewed meaning
to the phrase, “strong, silent type.”
only apparent concession to age the fact he no longer plays
in the annual AT&T Pro-Am golf tournament at Pebble
Beach each February, Eastwood has plunged into a massive new
project. He is directing “Flags of Our Fathers,” a
movie based on the book of the same name conceived around the
famous WWII photo of U.S. Marines raising the Stars and Stripes
atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
visited the desolate island in March to figure how best to
tell the story of the epic first U.S.
invasion of Japanese
soil, the 6,800 Americans who died there in just 25 days and
the six men who raised the flag and whose lives were forever
changed. It is fitting that this compelling story of our military’s
heroism will be brought to the screen next year by someone whose
career so typifies the American spirit, and whose range of characters
has held up a mirror for us to see ourselves in all that we are,
the good, the bad and the ugly. tRO
California-based Doug Gamble contributed speech material to
Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and writes a twice-monthly
column for the Orange County Register and CaliforniaRepublic.org.
2004 Doug Gamble