“Sad and pathetic.” That’s how film critic Roger Ebert summed up his hero, Clint Eastwood, after the Hollywood legend gave what can only be described as a bizarre, rambling speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night as a warm-up for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech.
The insta-meme “Eastwooding” skyrocketed after the 82-year-old actor/director left the stage, as did the jokey twitter account @InvisibleChair. Both are references to the empty stool on the stage next to Eastwood during his address, which he pretended was occupied by President Obama. The frequently risqué repartee Eastwood carried on with the chair was reportedly supposed to last five minutes but stretched to over 12.
The appearance was so “Twilight Zone” that even the president couldn’t resist piling on, tweeting a photo of the back of his head peeking over an embossed leather White House chair reading “The President” with the message, “This seat’s taken.”
For the Oscar-winning movie icon and avowed conservative, it was a long way down from such acclaimed films as “Unforgiven,” “Gran Torino,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “Mystic River.” But was it his worst role ever?
We break down five other missteps in Eastwood’s resume:
“Every Which Way But Loose”/”Any Which Way You Can” (1978, 1980): We can forgive a lot of the early work Eastwood did in such dues-paying dreck as “Tarantula” and “Revenge of the Creature.” But by the time Clint made his first (and it should be noted, last) forays into comedy with these two tough-guy-and-his-amusing-pet-orangutan trucker movies, he’d already made some of his most beloved westerns, as well as “Dirty Harry.” Yes, they were a clever skewering of his squinty-eyed brawler persona, and they made tons of money, but really?
“Pink Cadillac” (1989): A not-funny chase comedy co-starring Bernadette Peters and a then-little-known Jim Carrey, this muddled mess has Eastwood donning all kinds of silly disguises as he chases after Peters’ Lou Ann, whose husband is on the run from a white supremacist group. The only thing this one was missing, frankly, was an invisible president in a chair.
“Firefox” (1982) He’d played cops, cowboys, truckers, bounty hunters and soldiers, but a fighter pilot? Hold on to your hat: In this one, Eastwood plays a Vietnam veteran who’s tasked with stealing a top-secret Soviet fighter jet and flying it back to friendly ground for … oh, who cares? There are awesome mid-air dogfights, the obligatory assistance from a group of Jewish dissidents (it was the ’80s), a cameo from future “Cheers” star John Ratzenberger and a subsequent video game from Atari. On Laserdisc.
“The Bridges of Madison County” (1995) Sure, it was Oscar bait with Eastwood playing the bridge photographer tryst of eventual Oscar nominee Meryl Streep. It got generally good reviews for Eastwood’s deft direction and handling of the schlocky source material, but go try and watch it now.
“Space Cowboys” (2000) One of the last clunkers Eastwood made before a Dylan-like late career resurgence that has included some of his most affecting work, this trifle about aging test pilots sent into space to fix an old Russian satellite isn’t so much bad as just … unnecessary. If it were a bad joke it would go like this: a womanizing roller-coaster designer, Baptist minister, crop duster and retired Skylab designer shuffle off into space…