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    Clint Eastwood - Out of the Shadows
    Warner Bros./Warner Bros. . R4 . COLOR . 87 mins . MA15+ . PAL


    Ask your friends next time you’re sucking down a few beers at the pub “Who’s your favourite actor or director?” and I bet you a Hahn Premium that the answer would rarely come back “Clint Eastwood”. Somehow though, while no-one was watching he built a legion of fans and films, and collected a bunch of Oscars to make it all seem worthwhile. Rarely moving away from the reclusive loner with a dark past, a cross to bear and a six shooter by his side, his roles were generally similar, whether a lone cowboy out for vengeance, a lone cop out for justice or a lone …err, you get the idea.

    But don’t forget that while we were watching him up on the screen, he was also behind the camera, playing director. Making his directorial debut with Starting with Play Misty for Me in 1971, he helmed no less than 16 of his next 28 starring roles. Like the career of any other actor, or director for that matter, there were to be a few duds in the mix. However, his dual efforts paid off handsomely when in 1992 he received his first Academy Award for Unforgiven, going on to win a total of four for what many regard as his best film, and probably one of the finest examples of the genre ever.

    This dvd, preferring to take the road of praise for an American icon rather than a warts and all exposé highlights the general successes and building of a long and respected career. Narrated by Morgan Freeman it also features interviews with many people associated with and on the periphery of Clint’s career, such as Sergio Leone and Eli Wallach through to Curtis Hanson, Martin Scorsese, various co-stars, studio heads and even critics. If I have one criticism to level at this documentary, it would be that most of the interview segments are no way near long enough, and only just scratch the surface. But this is only a minor issue and I wouldn’t let this put you off. More accurately, it's actually a compliment because this documentary leaves me wanting to learn more.

    But, there’s only so much you can cram into one and a half hours when you’re trying to encapsulate a persons life, and they do an admirable job here. This dvd has a lot of ground to cover, and so must be economical at times, but they show a lot of footage from his early films, discussing his early days of learning under Sergio Leone and later Don Seigal. It shows Clint clearly wasn’t the sort to spend his time between takes sitting in a trailer, and we see the lessons learnt enabled him to set up his own production company, Malpaso. This is what gave him the freedom to pick and choose the personal projects between money making commercial efforts. He obviously made a lot of friends (and as many enemies) and earned some respect for the way he did things, and this dvd shows the reclusive characters he played aren’t so far removed from the real person.


    Although presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and being 16x9 enhanced, it uses footage from many of his films and television, and so the ratio varies with the footage being shown. The nicest factor in the transfer is that they’ve clearly taken some care in putting it on dvd, with a good quality picture. Whether it be in the quality of the included film footage, or just in the interview segments with Clint, the picture is generally clear and slightly soft focus looking and mostly free from any really distracting flaws. The sound is no slouch, either. With a good Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio track that is crystal clear and successful in being coherent no matter what was on screen, you’ll be hoping they start getting a few more of his films out on dvd soon. Of course, being a documentary disc to compliment his films, there aren’t any extras on this dvd, but then again you could basically count the whole documentary as an extra in itself, so no complaints from me.

    The end result of Out of the Shadows is a fine companion piece to the Dirty Harry series, and for Clint Eastwood fans overall. This will happily make it back into my dvdplayer for a rerun in the future. I think best of all, it’s nice to know that when you finish enjoying his films you can always slap this on and learn a little bit about the person behind the film, something I wish I could do more of.

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  •   And I quote...
    "...preferring to take the road of praise for an American icon rather than a warts and all exposé... "
    - Vince Carrozza
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