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Clint Eastwood

A Cultural Production

1993
Author:

Paul Smith

Clint Eastwood

Reads with polish and force. Extraordinarily lucid discussions about the condition of the Western, auteur theory, masochism, spectatorship, voice, and acting. Smith's book will change the course of film and cultural studies.

Tom Conley

The first full-length study of Clint Eastwood (or any contemporary figure in film) that not only interprets and critiques his films but demonstrates their complex and problematic relationship to American culture.

Clint Eastwood

Reads with polish and force. Extraordinarily lucid discussions about the condition of the Western, auteur theory, masochism, spectatorship, voice, and acting. Smith's book will change the course of film and cultural studies.

Tom Conley

While treating Eastwood’s films seriously, Smith offers a respectful and intelligent disclaimer to the canonization that culminated in his recent double-Oscar triumph with Unforgiven. This volume traces Eastwood's career from his first major success in Sergio Leone's iconoclastic Italian westerns. Smith uses Eastwood's work, its themes and structures, to tease out some interesting notions about gender and sexuality. The result is film criticism that, while conventional, is of a very high level, with Eastwood's career serving as a catalyst for some provocative musings on film theory. These turn particularly fruitful in a lengthy digression that focuses on Eastwood's oft-maligned performances to explore the nature of film acting, which Smith breaks down into three areas—the facial, the corporeal, and the vocal. In addition, Smith incisively examines the visual styles of Leone and Don Siegel and their influence on Eastwood's work. On the down side, Smith often falls into the jargon of Lacanian psychoanalysis and overused technical words like ‘diegesis’ and ‘narrativity.’ The book may be too difficult for the casual reader, but the serious film buff will glean some new ideas about Eastwood.

Publisher's Weekly

Paul Smith’s Clint Eastwood: A Cultural Production is not a biography (it is basically a critical analysis of Eastwood’s films) but it offers many insights into the relationship between the man (especially his political beliefs) and his films. Here is the first in-depth examination of the conflicting political messages of Eastwood's body of work—a strange blend of progressive and reactionary sentiments often contained within the same film.

Variety

Subtly probes the interplay between what Smith calls the cultural verisimilitudes and the world of the films. Convincingly yet delicately lays bare the ideological underpinnings of this quintessential American product.

Wilson Library Bulletin

Smith’s book constitutes a major effort to treat a star seriously in the light of contemporary studies of the representation of the body and the contrast between the ‘real’ body of the actor and ‘reel’ body on the screen. Smith breaks new ground not only through the depth and extent of his serious study of Eastwood but also through this method of connecting a broad range of cultural experiences: the cinematic presentation of Eastwood, the impact of the ‘tributary media’ of television, advertising, and the press, the treatment of ‘aesthetic ideologies’ that relate belief, art, and entertainment, and the dialectic between the audience and the culture industry.

College Literature

Smith examines the ways in which this exceedingly popular actor exemplifies a broad cultural construction, while at the same time contributing to the cultural construction of masculinity. Smith’s book is an excellent text for any course designed to develop critical thinking. The subtlety of Smith’s analysis, coupled with the popularity of his subject, provides an ideal opportunity for students to understand the ways in which any cultural creation exists in a broad social and political context.

Modern Fiction Studies

Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood phenomenon, and Paul Smith’s superb analysis illuminates the Eastwood persona in all its stunning complexity. As actor, political figure, director, or icon, Eastwood embodies some of the most interesting developments in American mass culture, and Smith moves across the different registers of Eastwood’s career with great skill. Whether you are an Eastwood fan, a student of mass culture, or both, Smith’s provocative study will be of enormous interest.

Judith Mayne, Ohio State University

Paul Smith’s iconoclastic book is an exemplary study of one of the most complicated modern figures in North American culture.

Andrew Ross, Princeton University

About This Book