Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gran Turino

If you haven't seen the movie Grand Turino get thee to the video store. I think it's probably the best movie I've seen in the last 5 years.

Many of you have already seen it and I won't give away the ending. But the film is much less a story than a formidable testament to a man's character, as Eastwood's aging character Walt, struggles to come to terms with a changing world and his inner demons, formed in the Korean War. Living in the house he's been in most of his life, quiet after his wife dies, his kids want to put him in a "home" (while the young ones brazenly eye his beloved car and his possessions). Making things harder for him is his issue with the way his blue collar Detroit neighborhood is now overrun by other cultures and increasingly, gangs.

His new neighbors are Hmongs who at first he stereotypically despises, and then befriends, helping the two young people of the family defend themselves against local gangs. This comes to a head when Thao, the family's young son, is blackmailed by a viscous outlaw band, cousins, to try and steal Walt's Gran Torino and is caught in the act. Ashamed, he agrees to work for Walt to pay off his dishonor to him. The car is a key element in the film, more than a vehicle to the man, but a large symbol of a vanished past of men's craftsmanship, hard work ethic, community and values.

As Walt deals with his old family, and this strange new family, for that is what they have become to him, the film quietly turns down a somber path. The ending reminded me, in spirit and subtle detail, of High Noon and The Shootist.

Of course, Walt has an M1 Garand, which I had the opportunity to shoot recently. Awesome weapon. Awesome movie - get your hands on both of them if you can.


  1. Oh, I saw the picture and told my husband "well, Brigid has one, I want one too!" in typical school girl style! Looks sweet, I have not yet seen the movie. I think I just might have too.

  2. I have to agree, the movie was refreshing in its honesty and clear message that hard work is a Good Thing(tm.)

  3. I love this movie! Good review. I may have to watch it again now.

  4. Lisa - the Garand is hard to beat. This one belongs to one of the friends I shoot with and I was honored they let me try it out.

    TheunpaidBill - yes it was.

    Emily. I cried buckets at the end. (but don't tell anyone).

  5. Oh yes, one of my favorite movies!

    It was on a Garand that I first discovered what a good trigger was, and then promptly realized none of MY rifles (at the time) had such a thing....

    I was shocked by the ending of Gran Turino. I had no idea, kind of like when I watched the Perfect Storm, not realizing that it was a true story, and was shocked when they didn't pull off the stupid story book ending I expected.

  6. Incredibly good movie. A great reminder that Clint Eastwood can actually act and tough guys aren't totally out of style!

  7. Haven't seen the movie, though I plan to this winter. Dad bought a very nice M-1 through the CMP several years ago and brought it along on visits to shoot it. It came from Anniston, AL, where he had his basic training, so of course he wondered if it was a rifle he had handled in his younger days. It is a bit heavy for Mom, but last weekend we reviewed how to load it without mashing her thumb. She can if she has to.

  8. Terrific movie. "Get off my lawn!" has already become as famous as "Make my day!" and "Are you feeling lucky, punk? Well, are you?" Eastwood's as good as they come.

    So's the Garand. I had to give mine up in basic at Ft. Leonard Wood a couple weeks before graduation. We had to clean them like they'd never been cleaned before - all for a private dealer who was buying them from the Army - coulda been Sam Cummings, for all I know. After we surrendered them, they issued us the "new" M-14, which we laughed at because they felt like toys compared with the M-1.

    Now I wish I had my M-14, too. Hard to top that platform and the .308 as an infantry rifle.

    Sometimes life just ain't fair.

  9. That movie single-handedly makes up for about the dozen or so lousy movies I saw in the theatre prior.


  10. Just sumbled across your blog whilst killing some time waiting for a storm to pass, really enjoy your writings so, if you don't mind, i'll follow a while in your wake. Oh yeah and Clint's movie is one of the better films that have come out for a while.

  11. Here are a couple links parodies of the new Eastwood catch phrase:

    (I'd post just the photos if that were possible here, without leading you by he nose to my blog. ;>|)

  12. I am happy, I own an M1 Garand, and learning to shoot up to its promise, and saw Gran Turino in the movies and grabbed a DVD when it came out and have repeated the viewing at home. Now, I want to be Walt when I grow up. Outlaw Josie Wales, Unforgiven, Flags of our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, and Gran Turino - Mister Eastwood has done great things. Thank him very much.

  13. The last reel of Eastwood's "Space Cowboys" is some of the best "hard" science fiction I've seen in recent memory. He only abandons plausibility with the final scene, but you'll probably forgive him for the indulgence. Highly recommended if you haven't seen it.

    In "Million Dollar Baby", Eastwood also emphasized that hard work was good. I was surprised when conservatives dumped on the flick for the deeply personal choice Clint's character makes at the end. A liberal statement it most definitely is not.

  14. I don't normally go to the movies, but my grand daughter said I had to see this one.

    You see I owned the car at one time, and still own the Garand I carried in boot camp. A friendly supply saragent and I made a deal. Not very honest I know...But I had to have that gun after I shot it the first time.

    Now I have to watch the movie again.

    Clint is one of my hero's right up there with the Duke.

    See Ya

  15. This movie was fantastic! And yes, a damn fine review Brigid!

  16. That is for sure a movie on my list of "must see's".now more than ever.

  17. Went and watched the movie when it first came out. Had to drive 80 miles to view it in a theater, but such is life when you live in the boonies.

    It was one of Clint's best...and he has quite a few good 'uns.

    I to won't give away the ending, but I must admit to having a bit of eye leakage near the end.

    And I do not have a Garand. Got hooked on the M14 whilst in basic.
    I much prefer the 20 rd magazine to the 8 rd clips.


  18. It was a beautiful movie. The Shootist is a great comparison I wish I could take credit for. I own a Garand and love it. Not the most practical or cheap or easy to reload weapon but none the less a great one to have. Something very American about those big heavy beautifully crafted pieces of wood and steel.

  19. Gran Torino is sitting in the pile of Netflix DVDs. With my work schedule, the ones I put in the queue tend to sit a while until I get them.

    First firearm I bought was a Garand. It had been somewhat de-milled, so I am thinking of getting another one from CMP.

  20. I STILL Haven't seen this movie. Guess it's time to pony up the $5.00 for On Demand.

  21. Great movie. Eastwood's transition sums up one of my favorite sayings: the longest journey a man can take is the eighteen inches from his hear to his heart.

    The ending was way too contrived, but it really doesn't matter. That's some journey, right there.

    The Garand's sweet, too.

  22. Oh yeah. Great movie, and a great rifle. Just gotta love the 30-06 out of any platform, but the garand is a truly fine weapon. As an aside, I discovered a Springfield XD 9mm subcompact that I'm fairly impressed with.

    Sorry about your recent home woes, but glad things are OK. We've found around here that a FOR SALE sign can sometimes attract a bad element. A terrible statement on society, isn't it?

  23. Concur- The byplay between his kids especially the self absorbed one was gut wrenching, having watched a friend go through something similar, but at least he didn't end up like Eastwood. The .45 he had was nice too!


  25. I have two Garands and consider them my most favorite of all my weaponry..One Springfield and one on to the Korean era guns...Careful, it's a nasty disease, this Garand collecting..

  26. Haven't even read the other comments, yet, but I have to say I'm in 100% agreement all around. Best movie in a long time.

    Best. Line. Ever.

    "Get Off My Lawn."

    And I have an M1 Garand. Until four and half years ago, I lived in a very anti-gun, northeastern state, so didn't grow up in the gun culture. Shame, I know. Needless to say, after moving to a much friendlier state relative to gun rights, I've been making up for lost time.

    The M1 Garand was the first rifle I ever bought. With enough surplus ammo to hopefully last until TEOTWAWKI. :-) Out of everything I've bought since, it's still my favorite. If you don't have one, as Brigid says, get one now. The prices aren't going down.


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