Contrary to popular belief, this film – and its much-the-same sequel Any Which Way You Can – from the swampier regions of the ‘70s are not about an orang-utan named Clyde. Certainly they include an ape by that name, guzzling beer, fouling cop cars and, at the behest of a snappy, “Right turn, Clyde,” knocking flat a gang of bumbling, swastika-stamped bikers (seemingly, the Keystone chapter of the Hell’s Angels fraternity). In truth, he’s merely a secondary character, a Polonius or Banquo to the main drama, which can be summed up, loosely as a redknecked, bare-knuckle-boxing movie-cum-comedy with a Country & Western tang. Or, if we’re talking high concept, the man with the ‘tan lets his fists do the talking.
A bizarre fillip in Eastwood’s transition from matinee idol to grand old man of cinema, they are free-forming episodes of commercial wackiness trading off the craggy machismo of the star as well as the loose-limbed, rootin’-tootin’ chaos of Smokey And The Bandit (1977), Convoy (1978) even The Cannonball Run (1981). Quite frankly Clyde was the least of their oddities. Which beggars the question – what the hell was everyone thinking?
America had finally recovered from Vietnam and Nixon, so put it down to Hollywood just cutting loose and meaningless for a spell. Or, perhaps, it was the fact everyone told Eastwood not to do it, and just like the predilections of his hairy buddy, he flipped them the bird.
To recap, Loose is the one where Clint fights bare-knuckle, falls for slender crooner Sandra Locke and Clyde’s snobbish ‘tude gets on the nerves of the cuss-ready Mama Boggs. The original, by the shortest of hops is the better, at least displaying a belief in backwater togetherness.