Every Which Way But Loose


Whither the All-American Man, beset on every side by unemployment, pesky “women’s-libbers,” and a rapidly-fading sense of self. One could easily mistake him for an endangered species, given the gallons of ink spilled over his declining prospects.

James Fargo’s Every Which Way But Loose is paen to these beer-swilling, sloppy, sensitive sonsabitches of yesteryear. Perma-squinter Clint Eastwood trades guns for guffaws as Philo, a truck-driving jobber and feckless bar-brawler who tumbles in and out of scrapes with his orangutan sidekick, Clyde (Manis). Rounding out this ad hoc “family of man” is Philo’s wacky neighbor Orville (Geoffrey Lewis), with whom he shares a mutual love of Coors Light, engine-tinkering, and country-fried pick-up artistry.

Philo and Company spend their weeks at packing plants, lumber yards, and other bygone cathedrals to strapping manhood. With the exception of Ruth Gordon, as Orville’s spitfire senile mom, their little slice of Pacoima heaven is devoid of feminine frippery. Until, of course, trouble arrives in the form of honky tonk angel Sandra Locke.

When the aforementioned, obligatory love interest makes off with Philo’s cash (and his heart!), the trio head east to Denver, hot on her trailer tail. One donnybrook leads to another, soundtracked throughout by ultra-cheesy Carter-era country ballads, as they make friends (a sensuous Beverly D’Angelo) and enemies (a gay Nazi biker gang, lead by John Quade) along the way.

Loose lives up to its name in spades, ambling along at a leisurely two hours, with just enough punch-uation to keep things moving. The film screens throughout the month as part of Simian Verité, Anthology Film Archives’ potpourri of monkey movies and cult favorites. If a movie date with your Old Man is in the stars, treat him to a tallboy of “Banquet” and this classic caper. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better Father's’ Day flick pick than a sui generis member of the Dad Cinema genus.