- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2003

Clint’s oeuvre

“In thinking about Clint Eastwood it helps to bear in mind the extent of the body of work associated with him. He has directed 24 features (including only four in which he does not also star). Before directing his first film he had already … starred in 10 films, of which three were directed by Sergio Leone and three by Don Siegel; subsequently he starred in two more by Seigel, as well as 11 by other directors: 47 films in all over a period of roughly 40 years. Eastwood was 34 when he embodied the Man With No Name in Leone’s primordial spaghetti western ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ [in] 1964. …

“The Leone spaghetti westerns brought a spirit to the movies that changed them permanently, accustoming audiences to anti-heroic irony and sardonic cruelty. … As the laconic hero of those films … Eastwood was the still, almost wooden figurine at the center of a swirl of self-conscious flamboyance. …

“Eastwood … has sometimes been typecast as a moral absolutist of the crudest kind. The antipathy of many critics was crystallized by Pauline Kael’s attack on the 1972 ‘Dirty Harry’ … as a ‘fascist’ movie, and it was around that time that Eastwood inherited John Wayne’s status as the all-purpose emblem of the American macho action hero.”

Geoffrey O’Brien, writing on “Fallen World,” in the Dec. 18 issue of the New York Review of Books

Toon tunes

“The singular advantage of growing up in the 1950s was being able to watch Looney Tunes on television. But the children of today need no longer feel culturally deprived. Now, with the release of ‘The Looney Tunes Golden Collection,’ a selection of classic Looney Tunes, kiddies everywhere, by merely pressing a button, may gain entry into a veritable Age of Pericles — cartoonwise, that is.

“But it’s not just the animation of the cartoons that’s so good. It’s the man who composed their music. You probably have never heard of him. … He is, however, an authentic American genius, an original; if you were to hear even a few bars of any of his musical compositions you would recognize the source immediately.

“His name is Carl Stalling. And from 1936, when he hooked up with Warner Bros., until his retirement in 1958, he wrote the musical scores for 600 cartoons. …

“Walt Disney discovered Stalling in the early ‘20s at Kansas City’s Isis Theater, where Stalling was conducting his own orchestra and improvising on the organ to silent movies. …

“Disney had Stalling score two animated shorts for a new character named Mickey Mouse.”

August Kleinzahler, writing on “The Mickey Mouse Genius,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com.

Her g-g-generation

“There isn’t a great deal my generation can look forward to anymore. …

“My generation has no time to ‘find ourselves’ because our cultural identity is being stolen before our very eyes. We watch as all we were supposed to hold dear is stripped or cheapened to the point of insignificance.

“We cannot take pride in the flag because it’s a ‘symbol of oppression.’ We cannot advocate abstinence because it’s imposing a belief system on other people. … We shouldn’t even think about saying the word ‘Christmas’ let alone telling people why we have this ‘holiday’ in the first place. And now, marriage is up for grabs.

“Why try? Is it any wonder that this generation attempts to lose itself in MTV?”

Emily Beal, writing on “Leaving a broken America to our children,” Saturday in WorldNetDaily at WorldNetDaily.com.

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