48 years later, Clint Eastwood is still ashamed of this western

A western with Clint Eastwood, so far so good. A musical western with Clint Eastwood? This is a film that the famous actor-director is absolutely not proud of…

Who says western, says Clint Eastwood. The actor is inseparable from the genre that made him known at the start of his career. It must be said that the role of cowboy suited him like a glove – the role of singing cowboy? Not really.

There is only one musical in the career of Clint Eastwood. Several decades after its release, the main person still regrets his decision to have participated in it, as he revealed in an interview with Empire in 2017. This film is La Kermesse de l’Ouest (1969) by Joshua Logan: on the program, a love triangle with cowboys who sing along…

Based on a hit Broadway play, The Western Fair follows Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin), an alcoholic and brawling pioneer who teams up with Pardner (Clint Eastwood), a young farmer who is sober and romantic about making money… in any way possible! The two men become friends but nevertheless struggle to find women in the region. They then settle in the small town of No Name City where Ben buys the beautiful Elizabeth (Jean Seberg), auctioned off by her Mormon husband. But that’s without counting on Pardner who also falls in love with the charming young woman and begins to “woo” her…

The Malpaso Company

In addition to its somewhat questionable plot, it also has singing. But since none of the film’s stars had any vocal training, their ballads sound more like “sad and lonely whispers”, according to Collider.

I was crazy enough to try anything. I have always been interested in music, my father was a singer and I had some knowledge of it. Even though what I was doing on this film wasn’t singing.

After countless script rewrites, The Western Fair ultimately no longer resembled the concept for which Clint Eastwood had signed: it was originally an inter-ethnic romance, which had attracted him. The final result was therefore not what was hoped for.

When Clint Eastwood runs away on another set…

In the meantime, the star even wanted to stop everything and started a new shoot. “I was filming When the Eagles Attack, and they flew [le producteur, scénariste et parolier Alan Jay Lerner et le réalisateur Joshua Logan] and convinced me to come back”, he added with a sigh.

Nearly 40 years later (at the time of the interview), the film was still not to his taste. “It was much lighter, it just didn’t have the dynamics of the original script. And it was one of those long shoots…

Indeed, plagued by production problems, the film took six months to complete and went way over budget: “It wasn’t as pleasant an experience as I was used to”, the actor finally concluded.

Today, 55 years after its theatrical release, critical opinions on the only musical Clint Eastwood are always shared: cult and guilty pleasure for some, copy to review (or erase) for others.

It’s up to you to form your own opinion if you haven’t already: La Kermesse de l’Ouest can be (re)watched in streaming on Paramount+.

Discover an excerpt from the film in which we can hear Clint Eastwood singing:

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