Despite all the fame and prestige that follows them, sometimes even Hollywood’s mightiest soldiers can’t help but marinate in regret about past projects and skeevy choices, and Clint Eastwood is no exception to that curse of self-reproach. Besides, you know what they say, we’re often our harshest critics. Only, the Eastwood movie in question was such an atrocity that even film critics had nothing but insults to hurl at it.
Paint Your Wagon – The Universally Disliked Western Musical
Out of all the critically panned films and box office bombs that he’s ever witnessed, the unflatteringly wacky ’60s musical is perhaps one of Clint Eastwood‘s greatest regrets in the entirety of his otherwise glorious career. Helmed by late theatre and film director Joshua Logan, Pain Your Wagon was deemed a Western disgrace owing to what was considered to be a miscasting of macho actors like the Gran Torino star and Lee Marvin in a chaotic production.
Poorly executed on a monumental budget of $20 million (that’s a heart attack-inducing figure for making a movie in the ’60s), the musical failed to turn a profit, grossing scarcely $11 million or so more than its hefty production costs at the box office. Eastwood and Marvin’s off-key singing only lent insult to injury, ultimately leading critics and fans to drag the movie through the mud. And even the 4-time Oscar winner acknowledged the fact that his talents were most definitely better recognized in acting and filmmaking.
“I was crazy enough to try anything. I’ve always been interested in music, my father was a singer and I had some knowledge of it. Although what I was doing in that picture was not singing.”
But the 93-year-old’s poor musical prowess (or complete lack thereof) wasn’t the only turbulent aspect of Paint Your Wagon.
Production Problems & Clint Eastwood’s Near Egress
The 1969 musical’s tumultuous production, which was also more or less the reason why Eastwood nearly bailed on it, turned the movie into the butt of a bad joke long before The Simpsons unsparingly trolled it.
One of the major predicaments that troubled the acclaimed actor was the incessant retooling of the script and the innumerable rewrites that followed; what was originally meant to be an inter-ethnic romance was soon transformed into a lousy love triangle. And that was what pushed the Dirty Harry star to want to quit the project altogether.
“I was away shooting Where Eagles Dare, and they flew over (Alan Jay Lerner and director Joshua Logan) and talked me back. It was much lighter, it just didn’t have the dynamics that the original script did. And that was another long shoot…”
From adding new songs to completely altering the main plotline of the film, Paint Your Wagon witnessed an abundant of hindrances (let’s not forget the inflated production budget) which took a total of six months to sort after which it finally premiered, only to get trashed almost instantly.
Paint Your Wagon can be rented or purchased on Apple TV+