Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Froemming picked “Every Which Way but Loose.”
The Movie: “Every Which Way but Loose”
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis
Director: James Fargo
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) The San Fernando Valley adventures of trucker turned prize-fighter Philo Beddoe and his pet orangutan Clyde.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 37 percent
Froemming: Last week, we visited the gritty underworld of a dirty cop and the crack cocaine he loved to smoke from a hooker’s mouth that was also kind of, but not really, a remake of a better film.
It raised a question for me that was once raised by everyone’s favorite mallrat in the 90s: Why don’t they ever bring back or remake good movies, like “Every Which Way but Loose?” Now there’s a concept I can’t get enough of, a man and his orangutan.
Then I realized that we somehow never reviewed the classic Clint Eastwood movie where our favorite Man Without A Name finally gets one (it’s Philo, which is not very intimidating), and he makes money in fight clubs while taking care of his pet orangutan Clyde. An orangutan that loves beer almost as much as he loves flipping the bird at people.
Brown, as I wonder what kind of sad sack biker gang gets bested by almost everyone in this movie (including a little old woman who is legally blind I think), why don’t you give us your first thoughts?
Brown: This, along with “Paint Your Wagon,” are weird additions to the Clint Eastwood filmography.
If someone mentions something involving a trucker and a monkey, my brain immediately goes to “BJ and the Bear.” I had a vague idea that Clint Eastwood did something with a monkey, but you could have told me that was “BJ and the Bear” and I’d believe you.
Forty-three years after this movie came out, it still boggles my mind that the director of “Gran Torino” and “American Sniper” did a movie with a (REDACTED) monkey.
I dunno man, this feels like something that was made because Clint Eastwood lost a bet.
Froemming: Not just one movie, but he made a sequel to this. And both his monkey movies are two of Eastwood’s highest grossing films.
Brown: The last ‘70s were a hellish time. Thanks, Jimmy Carter’s America.
Froemming, get us started while I start dumping motorcycles into a garbage truck.
Froemming: The movie begins with our hero, Philo, getting off work from his trucking job we never see him work again in this movie. He heads to a bar full of day-drinkers, a concept I never truly understood because booze and sunlight just make me tired, where he starts stealing peanuts from an old drunk guy.
And to a day-drinking old drunk guy, this is reason enough for a good old bar brawl! Excuse me while I pop a quarter in the jukebox, hit G7 and blast “Street Fighting Man” by the Rolling Stones!
Brown: You just hit G8…
Quick aside from the opening credits. You can tell how ‘70s this movie is when Philo punches in and plants a kiss on a receptionist we never see again in the movie. That’s an HR complaint today and a possible termination.
At the bar, I’m stunned that Philo knocked this guy out. As an obnoxious liberterian, Clint Eastwood would fight someone over free handouts.
Froemming: He’s a complex guy. He once yelled at a chair at the RNC. In front of cameras. That is performance art, and if the last review taught us anything, it’s that I don’t like art.
Brown: We see Philo drive home to his mother’s house. His brother, popcorn magnate Orville, also lives there.
Froemming: People complain about the younger generation living at home with their parents in their 20s. These guys are in their 40s.
Brown: Another resident on the property is a monkey! This was my reaction every time I saw the orangutan.
It should also be noted that the monkey, named Clyde, lives in a poorly-ventilated shed in the middle of the San Fernando Valley.
After seeing Clyde’s living quarters, this is why I think Philo and his family have that monkey.
Froemming: We learn later that Philo won Clyde in a fight. But this is how I think he really got his buddy:
Now, we see that in the 1970s, fight clubs did not take place in basements and they certainly did not have some weird-ass plot to destroy all the credit debt in the world. In the ’70s, you just beat a man bloody in the open, surrounded by cheering truckers who decided to move the danger needle from arm wrestling to bare knuckle boxing/MMA.
Brown: A weird parallel there is that one of the bikers in this flick is Gene LeBell, who’s one of the godfathers of mixed martial arts.
Also, are unleashed monkeys commonplace in the Los Angeles area? Because Philo brings Clyde with him all over the place and no one bats a goddamn eye over it. If I see a monkey in public, that’s basically the highlight of my week and I’m not shutting up about it.
workin’ fightin’ day is done, Philo and Orville head to a honky-tonk bar. Sadly, we have no mechanical bull in sight so no “Urban Cowboy” flashbacks for Froemming and I.
Froemming: In my head canon, all the honky tonks in this movie are Gilley’s.
Brown: The brothers are trying to pick up chicks. And when Philo runs into a dismissive college broad, he *checks notes* puts dentures into her New England clam chowder…
This man deserves to die alone. But he won’t, because he’s smitten with the female country singer that just took the stage.
This woman is Lynn Halsey-Taylor, and instead of finishing her gig, just runs off with Philo, who drives her to her camper. Where she lives with her boyfriend. Who she viciously cucks throughout this movie in her cons. Her cons? Getting small amounts of money and love from creepy old drunks at dive bars.
Maybe aim a little higher with your con jobs, Lynn.
But Philo is hit hard with love-at-first-sight and lover’s nuts, so he begins his reign of cucking her boyfriend.
The next day, while out driving, Philo and Clyde are menaced by members of the most non-threatening biker gang I have ever seen: The Black Widows. For tough guys, they sure get their asses kicked all the time, their bikes stolen pretty easily and have some of the worst tattoos I have ever seen. Their ink looks like it came with a side of infectious disease.
Brown: The Black Widows are bumbling morons. But they’re also wearing swastikas and Nazis can fuck off so I’m OK with any and all bad things that happen to them.
Froemming: Hey, when I saw a photo of Sid Vicious wearing a nazi shirt, I realized maybe it was a good thing he is dead. That and also brutally murdering his girlfriend in the throes of a heroin binge. So, two good reasons for him to be dead. So I am right there with ya.
Brown: Philo makes a bit of cash by stealing the Black Widow bikes, repainting them and selling them off. So, you know, criminal activity. But these are Nazi spiders, so I’m cool with it.
With that extra cash, Philo takes Lynn shopping. But on the way back to her trailer, they are attacked on the road by Lynn’s cuckold, Schyler. Not only are they being run off the road, but they’re being fired on with a shotgun.
Seeing that he’s basically Russell Crowe in “Fightin’ Around the World,” Philo wants to confront Schyler. But Lynn talks him down and says she’ll deal with him. Philo gives her the cash and says he wants to be with her.
The next day, Lynn’s trailer is gone. She’s headed back home to Denver with Schyler.
Froemming: I love the guy at the trailer park is also Senor Droolcup from “Twin Peaks.”
He is just as helpful to Philo as he is to a shot and dying Agent Cooper.
Brown: This is when you should realize you got played, cut your losses and go drop more dentures in chowder, right?
Nope. Philo can’t take a hint so he packs up his monkey and his brother to go to the Rockies.
Froemming: This trip goes much better for Orville than the time he ran into the Firefly family in Texas.
They leave behind their mom, who has this weird side plot of not being able to get a driver’s license because, well….
But before they hit the road, Philo beat up some off-duty cops at Gilley’s, so now he has the weirdest biker gang after him AND I guess this movie’s answer to Jackie Gleason in “Smokey and the Bandit.”
So, now they are on the road and stop at a farmer’s market, where I imagine Philo haggles for fruit like Mac does in the Italian Market in Philly.
Brown: Orville has a love-at-first-sight moment with a woman named Echo. He helps Echo out by getting a paying customer (albeit an annoying customer) to run from the farmer’s market in fear. Why, you ask? Because he tells the customer that Echo has the clap…
This apparently is charming enough for Echo to join Philo, Orville and Clyde in what is turning out to be the weirdest RPG party in history.
Meanwhile, the Black Widow Nazi spiders are getting their asses handed to them by middle-aged diner patrons back in the San Fernando Valley.
Watching this, I’m sure this was funny to ‘70s audiences. But this was how I watched this entire movie:
Also, why are they driving to Denver by driving through New Mexico? We see the group make stops in Albuquerque and Santa Fe in a less-than-optimal route to Denver.
Their stop in Albuquerque does lead to perhaps the weirdest sequence in this movie when Philo goes bar-hopping with Clyde and decides to get his monkey laid.
Froemming: Not just that, because the premise alone is very weird, but what really nails it home on being a “holy shit what is going on” moment is the urgency Philo has in getting old Clyde laid. He wakes Orville and Echo in the middle of the night so they can break into a weird zoo. It just comes out of nowhere and I am still flabbergasted by it.
Brown: I was disturbed by how much rope Philo carries in his truck.
Froemming: IT’S HIS TOOLS! HE HAS TO HAVE HIS TOOLS!
Brown: So Philo drops Clyde into a pen where he can just barge into a cage and have non-consensual sex with another monkey. What if Philo had dropped him into a bear exhibit instead of the orangutan exhibit?
This is how I imagine Clyde came out the next morning:
Because I glossed over it, I should also mention that during the bender, Philo and Clyde go into
- A restaurant
- A couple bars
- A strip joint
- A PORNO STORE
What the (REDACTED), movie?
Froemming: Without a doubt, this is one of the weirdest movies we have watched for this blog.
Oh, the cop is still after them and so are the Black Widows, who tried to scare Philo’s mom and she pulled a gun on them, shooting up their bikes. You know, biker gangs are usually very protective of their bikes. It is a large part of their identity. But these goofballs just get theirs stolen or destroyed all the time. Dumb nazi morons.
Well, our team makes it to Colorado, where they camp out, drink beer and not do much. They did win some money in a fight club that took place in a meat locker. But only because Echo pulled a gun on the guys who tried to steal Philo’s winnings. Echo is more Dirty Harry in this than Eastwood is. Way to go, Beverly D’Angelo, for being my favorite character in this weird, weird movie.
Brown: Did it also bother you like it did me just how much drinking and driving happens in this movie? We see Philo do it a few times. The bikers do it. Hell, there’s one scene where Clyde is (REDACTED) putting beer in Philo’s mouth while he’s behind the wheel!
Froemming: It is weird seeing what was socially acceptable in the 1970s: Disco, cocaine, drinking and driving and KISS. It was a dark era, my friend.
Brown: While camping out in the mountains, Philo goes on a run. And he just happens to be on the same road as Lynn. She’s not stoked to meet him, but she stops. And he just hops into the truck with no permission. Then they have sex because why the (REDACTED) not?
Does this summary seem rushed? Well, the sex scene was that sudden and rushed.
Lynn says she’ll meet up with Philo again. Philo REALLY wants her to meet Clyde. Frankly, if I were Lynn, I’d want to meet Clyde because meeting a monkey sounds way more fun than having Clint Eastwood inside you.
Froemming: She stands him up. Which is not shocking. We see her pulling her very weird con of getting small amounts of cash for cucking her boyfriend. Honestly, at this point getting a real job would be less of a hassle, Lynn.
Brown: Hell, actual prostitution sounds like it would be less of a hassle.
Froemming: Hey! We save these conversations for our subscription-only podcast JOE-DOWN NIGHTS!
Anyway, the next day the bikers find Lynn and somehow know who she is and whatnot. They use her as bait to finally unleash their vengeance on Philo, who manages to not only kick all their asses (there are like almost 10 of them) but Orville takes a garbage truck and destroys their bikes!
The Black Widows are very bad at being a gang. Which seems like a very simple way to live.
Anyway, because this movie is 25 percent story, 25 percent country song montages, 25 percent Clint fighting and 25 percent Clint drinking, we plop to the next Gilley’s, where Philo confronts Lynn, who is with her new mark.
She basically has to yell at him that she conned him and is not interested in him, because all the social cues and verbal hints fell on deaf ears and blind eyes. Maybe all the squinting from Philo hurt the latter for him.
Then we finally see the man she has been cucking. Through the movie, he was hidden, not seen at all. There was a mystery to him. And when we finally see him, he looks like a depressed used car salesman.
If this is who Lynn wants, I don’t blame Philo for finding another fight club to beat the sadness out of his fists on some poor bastard’s face.
Brown: Part of me expected Schyler to get the Lester Diamond treatment.
Instead, Philo finally gets a clue and walks away. But he’s got one more bit of business to attend to in Denver:
buy legalized weed fight a legend!
Throughout the movie, Philo keeps hearing the name Tank Murdock, who’s a legend in the street-fighting community.
When we get to this much-hyped battle, turns out that Tank is just a beer-bellied, punchy middle-aged man. You can take a look at Philo’s face and hear this sound in your head:
Philo is kicking the everloving shit out of Tank. Then through a mix of pity and the realization that this is what he’s becoming, Philo takes a dive so that Tank can retire from fighting strangers for money at construction sites, I guess? Doesn’t sound like a lucrative career for ol’ Tank.
Froemming: Philo, who just had all his self-respect destroyed by Lynn and that used car salesman he has been cucking all through the movie, decides to let Tank keep some of his own. I liked that.
Anyway, they take off back to California and see the crippled and broken bikers and off-duty cops they demolished also heading back. Then the movie ends and I realized we did NOT get enough of Clyde in this. It is a movie with a monkey in it and it felt like he got less screen time in this than Heath Ledger’s Joker did in “The Dark Knight.” That is a damn crime to me.
Brown, let’s grab Clyde and drive on down to recommendations!
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: Yup. This was a weird, yet entertaining movie.
Brown: No. This was such a disjointed movie that often felt pointless. And it’s a comedy that just isn’t that funny. I still would love to know why Clint Eastwood decided to do this.
Here is what’s coming up for the next JOE-DOWN:
October is Halloween Month at the JOE-DOWN! Here are our picks!