Clint Eastwood, Geoffrey Lewis, Sondra Locke and an orangutan named Clyde star in these two comedic action pictures which are packed with fistfights and craziness the like of which we just don’t see anymore.
So let’s take a look and see which is the better film.
Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
Plot: A tough trucker with a cheeky pet orangutan, Philo Beddoe (Clint Eastwood) moonlights as a fighter, with his close friend Orville Boggs (Geoffrey Lewis) setting up matches for him. When Philo begins dating country singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke), and she abruptly disappears, he goes off in search of her, his simian companion and Orville in tow. On their cross-country trek, Philo and friends repeatedly clash with bikers, leading up to a violent showdown.
Every Which Way But Loose was a regular staple in my house growing up and to this day it’s actually one of my favourite Clint Eastwood films. I’d love to know how the concept was thought up – a guy drives around getting into fistfights for money but he brings his pet orangutan called Clyde along with him. Sure, why not. There’s no real reason to have Clyde in the picture as it’s not like he has some great character arc but he’s loveable and makes for a good companion for the amazingly named Philo Beddoe (Clint Eastwood). Not enough is said about Geoffrey Lewis who plays Philo’s partner Orville; the two make for a great double act and the addition of Clyde just makes it all the wackier.
This came out shortly after Smokey & the Bandit so Eastwood was advised to take it due to that movie’s success. Interestingly enough the script was initially meant for Burt Reynolds but Eastwood saw the script and became interested. These caper movies from that period are just massively enjoyable as they provide a perfect escape from reality; I think I’m going to have to review the Smokey & the Bandit movies soon.
Clint’s former flame Sondra Locke plays singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor who is more than meets the eye and when Philo thinks he’s met the love of his live she is in fact a hustler who played him. Beverly D’Angelo is perfect as Echo, who quickly becomes Orville’s love interest and joins the crew on a road trip as Philo chases after his “love” after she runs off on him during the night. I love the running joke that Echo’s name is always said twice…
The real scene stealer though has to be Ruth Gordon as Ma, a “helpless old lady” who has a foul mouth and everything she says is hilarious.
Chasing after the crew is a gang of inept bikers called the Black Widows who are wonderfully useless and get their asses kicked regularly. Then we have the two cops on Philo’s tail wanting revenge after he beats them up so he makes a lot of enemies along the way.
There are fight scenes every few minutes and they are mostly well done however, I feel the close-up camera work does detract a little at times. There are also a few chases and the light tone just keeps everything moving along at a nice pace.
The script is still as entertaining now as was it was back then. Eastwood is so good at playing these blue-collar everyman types and Philo is easy to like; he has great banter with Orville and it’s such a lighthearted romp that it’s difficult not to enjoy every second.
At an hour and 53 minutes it’s maybe a tad too long but I didn’t feel like it dragged at any point.
Music-wise it’s mostly country songs which isn’t really my kind of music but I do love the song Every Which Way But Loose by Eddie Rabbitt.
Overall, Every Which Way But Loose is just an uplifting good time; it doesn’t try to change the world but wants to entertain which after so many years it still does. The cast are all appealing (including Clyde) and there are regular fight scenes to keep fans engaged making for perfect Saturday night fare while pounding a few beers.
Any Which Way You Can (1980)
Plot: Just as underground bare-knuckle fighter Philo Beddoe (Clint Eastwood) is about to retire, he is asked by the Mafia to fight East Coast champion Jack Wilson (William Smith), who has been crippling opponents in his victories. To get Philo to agree to fight, the Mafia kidnaps his old love, Lynn Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke). When Jack finds out, he agrees to help Philo rescue Lynn. Afterward, Philo and Jack decide to fight anyway to settle who is the better brawler.
“Right turn, Clyde!” – This sequel has Clint Eastwood returning with Clyde, Geoffrey Lewis as Orville and Sondra Locke as Lynn Halsey-Taylor. It is practically a straight continuation from the first movie but I find this movie didn’t have as many fights and went more for the bonkers humour. Some of it works better than others but any movie that has a jet driving to a fight on the road gets a thumbs up from me.
In Any Which Way You Can Philo takes part in a bare-knuckle fight to make some more money than he can earn from his car repair business but when he decides to retire from fighting, he’s unable to do so.
Lynn Halsey-Taylor returns into Philo’s life and wants to rekindle their romance; it takes a little while for Philo to thaw towards her after how she screwed him over in the first movie but Clyde being the loyal pal that he is convinces him otherwise. Philo is approached to do one last fight worth big bucks which he initially accepts and he surprisingly befriends his opponent Jack Wilson (William Smith). After the two get into a barfight Philo discovers that Jack was sizing him up and tells him not to fight, then Lynn and Orville also say it’s not worth it so he drops out of the fight. The mob get involved and they end up kidnapping Lynn so he is forced to fight in a rather epic showdown which lasts about 20 minutes.
The pacing does drag a little in the middle this time with a sequence where everyone (including Clyde) is getting laid and it is quite funny but there is a little too long between beatdowns for my liking. The finale more than makes up for it however, with Philo and Jack pounding strips off each other making for a profoundly satisfying showdown.
The Black Widows return and are as dumb as ever but I love how their story ends with this one so everything is wrapped up nicely.
Ruth Wilson returns as Ma but I didn’t think she was as funny this time around but she had her moments.
It was only on this viewing that I noticed that was Miami Vice’s Michael Talbott as Officer Morgan; he would also show up in First Blood as Balford.
The music is similar to the first with a lighthearted country vibe and it’s hard not to like Clint Eastwood’s duet with Ray Charles “Beers to You”.
Both this and the first movie were some of Clint Eastwood’s biggest box office successes and it’s easy to see why as they are just such great fun.
Although I think both movies are fun time I have to go with Every Which Way But Loose as it has more action and the script is just that bit tighter. Any Which Way You Can is still a good time but the pacing lag in the middle lets it down.