In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb five acts poster

Jane Fonda in Five Acts

Director Susan Lacy has the great advantage of a subject whose life has been extensively documented literally since birth.

Thumb fahrenheit eleven nine

Fahrenheit 11/9

The messiness of Moore’s film starts to feel appropriate for the times we’re in. With a new issue being debated every day, is it any…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

Coogan's Bluff

  |  

"Coogan's Bluff" is a retelling of one of the oldest American themes: the unspoiled country boy comes to the big city and tests his frontier values against corruption of civilization. This time the hero is a strong, silent deputy sheriff from Arizona, dispatched to New York City to extradite a killer. He runs afoul of big-city criminals and gets tangled up in laws which say an Arizona deputy can't act like a New York cop -- not in New York, anyway.

As Coogan, Clint Eastwood is well cast. In his series of Italian Westerns ("A Fistful of Dollars," "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," etc.), he renewed a tradition recent American Westerns had lost track of: The hero should be a man of few words and many actions. So while Hollywood cowboys were debating capital punishment, Eastwood was spitting and smoking his cigarillo and sneering and gunning people down and getting off a line of dialog, say, every five minutes.

Advertisement

He plays essentially the same character in "Coogan's Bluff." This is Coogan's first visit to the city, and there are a lot of things he doesn't know, but he does know his own mind. A cab driver charges him 50 cents for "luggage" consisting of an attaché case. The fare comes to $2.95. "How many stores are there in this town named Bloomingdale's?" Eastwood asks. "One," the cabbie says. "Well," says Eastwood, "We passed it twice." "It's still $2.95, including the luggage," the cabbie insists. "OK," says Eastwood. "Here's $3, including the tip."

Once safely established, Eastwood goes to pick up his prisoner and gets tangled in a legal hassle with the sheriff (Lee J. Cobb), a romantic complication with a social worker (Susan Clark), a double crossing from a hippie (Tisha Sterling), and a showdown with a mean killer (Don Stroud). These involvements are played off against one another for an hour and that's the movie.

Don Siegel, who directed, is thoroughly at home in this sort of movie. He encourages Eastwood's laconic, slit-eyed hostility, plays up Lee J. Cobb's frustrated humanism, and has a lot of fun with a motorcycle chase up and down the steps and around the sidewalks of a park.

Hollywood used to produce these hard-action cop movies with relative ease, but recently the private eye and cop stuff has been bungled by unsure hands (see Gordon Douglas' uneven direction of "Lady in Cement," for example). Siegel knows what he wants and gets it.

Popular Blog Posts

"You Were Expecting Someone Else?" Why a Non-White James Bond is the Franchise's Logical Next Step

Not only would Idris Elba make a great James Bond, the franchise has been building towards casting an actor of color ...

Grace and Nature: On Criterion’s Release of The Tree of Life

On the new Criterion release of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, which includes a new 50-minute-longer extended cu...

Jonah Hill, Emma Stone Star in Netflix’s Daring, Brilliant Maniac

A review of the phenomenal new Netflix show starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus