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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Beguiled (1971)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Don Siegel

Starring:
Clint Eastwood/Corporal McBurney
Geraldine Page/Miss Martha
Elizabeth Hartman/Edwina
Jo Ann Harris/Carol
8 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Near the end of the American Civil War, a wounded Yankee stud from the South (Eastwood) is taken in by an “All Girl’s Boarding School” (of the North) where he’s nursed back to health. Being the shameless man-whore that he is, he begins to “play” the ladies all at the same time; aiming for that coveted sugar. The gals eventually wise up to his “Sam Malone” ways and pay him back two fold. Clint “The Mack”? YOU BET! SADDLE UP JUNIOR!
THE LOWDOWN

Sinning oughta be saved for much more important things.-McBurney

Late Director Don Siegel left quite a legacy of fine films behind. He was the lad behind the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (in 1956) and he also blessed us with the lean & mean cop thriller Dirty Harry… to name but a few. He and Clint “Genius” Eastwood have worked together on a multitude of cinematic projects; but the Gothic thriller The Beguiled (which Spiegel admitted was his favorite of all his films) was and still is criminally overlooked. This review is my humble “pitch in” to rectify that.

Although “The Beguiled” worked as a metaphor for the strain between the North and the South during the American Civil War, I can’t say that the angle stimulated me much. I’m not a history buff and the story could’ve taken place in a Blade Runner like future for all I cared. The big German Shepard balls the flick sported for its time on the other end; now that made it happen for me! Sexual repression, bisexuality and hints of incest were all themes addressed through this trek and I for one was lapping them up like Chuck Sheen (circa his cocaine days) at a Sushi party that serves no Sushi, if ya know what I mean. And when it wasn’t playing that game to a “F” (for f*ck yeah); the flick was reeling me in via its gripping depiction of a fierce battle of the sexes. I so adored the ambiguity in the male/females characters which displayed traits of both good and evil. Nothing was clear cut! It was left up to us to choose whom we should root for! Unfortunately, a lot of folks mis-interpreted that "shades of grey" approach at the time, calling the flick mysoginist and all. Actually; famous critic Karyn Kay stated in her Beguiled review: “Don Siegel hates women –and fears them”. As a rebuttal; jerk-off John Fallon wrote in is his review; “Karyn, lose the vibrator, get out of the house and date some already!” That’s just how it is! NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A WOMAN! They’re craftier than us dumbo men will ever be! It’s just a fact!

The film’s knack at sucker punching left and right was another one of its strong suits. The sly first hour didn’t prepare me for the awfulness to come and in consequence; when the horror eventually kicked in, I was severely bitch-slapped. Ouch! I felt that! It left a freaking mark! In fact, I caught myself wincing like a constipated geizer during one particularly disgusting bit. That was more than most recent/flimsy “gore films” (Pssst…Murder Set Pieces ) have done for me lately. THANK YOU! With all that said; my focal treat throughout was witnessing Clint Eastwood tackle a role unlike the ones he played before or after! Mr. Malpaso handled his charming, yet conniving, sexist and aggressive part in such a captivating fashion that I wound up rooting for him like a rooster with a hard on in a Hen house. I was having a blast witnessing young Clint "hunt them panties” with skills that would put Trent from Swingers to shame. This was Eastwood stepping out of his usual type casting; this was Eastwood going beyond his “sheer, magnetic presence”, this was Eastwood at his utmost best! WOW! Double down all that sweetness with some arresting imagery via Siegel’s atmospheric eye behind the camera, some genuinely tense moments and all around stronger than “Popeye on a Spinach O.D.” performances and you get a heavy hitter that should be recognized.

On the “oops I messed up” side of things; the flick failed me once where it had a character’ “change his/her tune” in the blink of a blink to accommodate the last plot twist. I didn’t fully buy it and thought it to be an illogical move. Having said that, that bump in the road didn’t come close in hindering my overall enjoyment of this exceptional picture. The Beguiled was a unique sit down, one laced with intelligence, class, unsettling imagery and braveness when it came to delving into the darker corners of the human psyche. It also put out a valuable lesson; although I try to live by the great Frank T.J. Mackey's (from Magnolia) law: "Respect the cock... and tame the cunt." If you try to tame too many pussycats at the same time; they'll eat you alive sooner or later. Write that down guys; it's my mantra of the day. Now, sit down with The Clint man and let him show you how it’s done…OLD SCHOOL!
GORE
We get some light blood here and there and one particularly gruesome scene that I won’t spell out in fear of giving away a hard hitting plot turn; see the film; it gets ugly.
ACTING
I have recently been on a Clint Eastwood (Corporal McBurney) fix where I’m seeing all of his films. What an exceptional man, director and actor! His display in The Beguiled was no exception! Here Eastwood went all out on charisma, and machismo, proving once again that he is the ultimate “man’s man”. He oozed of magnetism! Geraldine Page (Miss Martha) was very convincing in her role; bringing lots of duality to it. Elizabeth Hartman (Edwina) was eerily convincing in her emotionally un-balanced part. Jo Ann Harris (Carol) was sexy as hell as the overt “slut” of the lot; hey, she turned me on!
T & A
The ladies get Clint Eastwood shirtless and we dudes get some cleavage and wishing we looked like Clint Eastwood shirtless.
DIRECTING
Siegel painted a grounded yet surreal picture via stylish shot compositions and mood galore. Much like the film’s storyline; the look and feel of it was quite original.
SOUNDTRACK
The peculiar score by Lalo Schifrin supported the novel storyline and striking images perfectly.
BOTTOM LINE
When initially released; they mis-marketed The Beguiled as a Western to capitalize on Eastwood’s then "King Cowboy" status. But don’t be fooled Buckaroos; this was no gun-slinging opus. This sour drink was about a young, blonde haired Clint Eastwood being a total “man-hussy” and paying the price, plus taxes, for it! I could stop right there and the movie is already worth a rental. But it was much more than that! It was Clint Eastwood being a poon-hunter in a multi- layered, brilliantly cast, exceptionally shot, highly ambitious, taboo heavy and mucho daring little chiller. How can you go wrong with that jive? See it, own it and come to the already “set in stone” conclusion that Clint Eastwood is “The Man”! He was then, still is today and will always be. CLINT! YOU FREAKING ROCK!
BULL'S EYE
Actress Elizabeth Hartman (Edwina) committed suicide in 1987 by jumping out of her apartment window. RIP.

Clint Eastwood was already 40 years old when he acted in The Beguiled. Man he looked so young for his age!

Clint and director Siegel had to fight with Universal to keep the ending of the film as-is (they wanted a happier one).

Clint directed his first film Play Misty for Me right after doing The Beguiled. The rest as they say is history.

Clint dedicated his excellent film “The Unforgiven” to one of his mentors “Don Siegel”.
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