Clint Eastwood Faces Online Scrutiny for 1973 Academy Awards Comment

by Jonathan Howard
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Over on Twitter, Clint Eastwood is facing some criticism for comments he made at the 1973 Academy Awards while presenting. It happened after a speech that involved Marlon Brando, Native American activism, and a speech by Sacheen Littlefeather.

In 1973, Marlon Brando was up for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. For his portrayal of Vito Corleone in The Godfather, the actor was the favorite for the award. At the time, Brando was involved in the American Indian Movement and had become friends with Littlefeather.

At the awards, Littlefeather accepted the Best Actor award on his behalf. She commented on the issues that were going on at Wounded Knee at the time. She also made a plea to Hollywood and the film industry for their role in dehumanizing Natives in film. The speech received mixed reactions from the crowd and audiences at home.

Clint Eastwood was set to present the best picture award. That award was won by The Godfather, one of three the film won that year including Brando’s Best Actor award.

Eastwood stepped up to the podium and said, “I don’t know if I should present this award, on behalf of all the cowboys shot in all the John Ford Westerns over the years.” While some claim it was a joke to lighten the mood, others have deemed it inappropriate and dismissive.

The video and tweet have sparked a number of reactions online. They range from “not a big deal” to accusations of racism.

Clint Eastwood ‘Unforgiven’ Star Needed Convincing

Throughout his career, Clint Eastwood has made a living in the western genre. Even today. His new film, at 91-years-old, Cry Macho adds to that list. Back in 1992, when the actor was working on Unforgiven, one star needed convincing.

The film would go on to win a lot of awards. It won Best Picture and Best Actor for Eastwood. So, why did it take Gene Hackman some convincing to be involved? Eastwood talked about the problem back in 2009.

“I submitted it to Gene Hackman and Gene I’d known for many years, but we had never worked together. He was in a mood at that time and he said ‘I don’t want to do any more violent pictures. I’m tired of it.”

While it’s hard to believe, the issue was one that resonated with Clint Eastwood.

“I said, ‘You know, I know exactly where you’re coming from, but read it again because I think we can make a great statement against violence and killing if we do this right.’ It’s all in the execution, you gotta execute it right, or else nothing means anything. He re-read it and came back and said, ‘Yeah, okay, I’ll do this,’” The actor/director said.

So, all these years later Eastwood was right about the film. It was an all-around success.

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