during the course of an average workday i see a lot of dvd cover art. today i saw one that i think we need to talk about - the clint eastwood vehicle any which way you can (1980).
i saw this movie in its initial run at my beloved redskin theater in anadarko, oklahoma. i haven't thought about it much in the interim. the artwork on this cover is from the original poster, which i also don't really remember, which seems strange looking at this now because it is complete madness. to better illustrate my point, let's do this. imagine this image free of anything to contextualize it for you.
take your time. soak it in. pretend for a moment that you come from a time and place with no inkling of clint eastwood and his mythology. what are we to glean of the narrative from this artwork?
the main character appears to be this craggy faced, flinty eyed hawk-man who has a fondness for highlights in his tousled hair. perhaps he spends so much time at the salon in an effort to distract our attention from the fact the he apparently has a disproportionately large fist growing out of his sternum. i think that's why he appears to be so angry. a good hairdresser is hard to find and, while he can hold a mug of delicious hot chocolate with his chestfist, he cannot effectively drink it without spilling everywhere and making an absolute fool of himself. at first glance, he would appear to be menacing us but the motion lines actually suggest he is sliding rapidly by us in space, perhaps also in time, which seems like a neat power to have and sort of makes up for the chestfist thing.
the angry hawk-man-god appears to be worshipped by a puzzling assembly who all seem to be longing for relief in some way. reverend jim from the television series taxi appears to both love and fear him. perhaps he is the hawk-man-god's trusted right hand man, which would account for his place at the top of this bizarre totem pole. his furtive glance suggests to me he has possibly embezzled funds.
the cross-eyed blonde angel who visits him in dreams can only speak in dolphin-like squeaks. while appearing to be a woman, the angel is actually sexless.
the village crone is the lone soul who dares to defy the hawk. she appeals to the orangutan god for succor in her hour of need but it turns out it is just a regular orangutan who is wise to the fact that he gets better food if he lets her believe he is a god. she is crushed for her blasphemy. the orangutan has to find another sucker. not a problem, for the orangutan is personality plus!
in an obvious nod to rosey grier and ray milland in the thing with two heads (1972), in the final reel the hawk engages in an epic battle with a two headed monster, one which has horns like a minotaur, the other of which appears to be casually eating a scorpion. very dangerous. using his time/space slide, the hawk prevails and chestpunches the monster into a pit of trucks and rattlesnakes, tragically crushing borat in the process.
as the hawk sits amidst the wreckage in the aftermath of this final battle, he is wracked with guilt over borat's accidental death. the ghost of gene autry appears to comfort him and sings him to sleep, which is also possibly his death. it is not entirely clear.
that's what it looks like to me, anyway.