My first encounter with Miss Locke had quite an effect on my fragile 9 year old mind. I must admit, looking back all these years later, that her "Lynn Halsey Taylor" did my head in quite a bit. My Mom took my brother (4 and half years older and wiser) and I to see Every Which Way But Loose back in 1978. She later regretted it - more for me than my brother - I think. There was a bit too much foul language and, ahem, adult situations for her tastes with regard to what she felt was "appropriate" for me. Granted, Mom never had any problems with me watching all sorts of stuff that I probably needed a bit of supervision with (my posts on Salems Lot and Horror of Dracula attest to this) - but it was a "different" situation when she paid money for tickets and concession goodies and sat down, the three of us in a movie theater - if you catch my drift. As for the movie.... Well... next paragraph if you please.
I was loving it. Until we got to the last third of the film. It then took a turn that my 9 year old self didn't quite "understand." My logic: Clint digs this girl. This girl seems to dig Clint. She's attractive, I like her too. I wish I had another box of milk duds. Okay, Clint gave this girl a lot of money and she vanished. Clint seems to think she might be in trouble. He and Orville are gonna go save her! Hey! There she is! Clint and the girl have some fun alone time together! (and my the music sure was pretty in that scene) Nice! Well then, things shall go nicely for Clint and Lynn Halsey... (side note: I had my Dad buy me the Eddie Rabbit single of the theme song).
Then came the material I didn't quite GET: That girl sure doesn't want to see Clint anymore. That's funny, they were just kissing and doing other "stuff" a few scenes ago. WOW, she's beating the shit outta Clint and telling him he's a big stupid, dumb, idiot! She's screaming that she hates him! She's clawing his damn eyes out! Uhm, Mommy? Why is that girl such a fucking bitch?
And then, of course, Clint throws the fight with Tank Murdock for reasons that I DID understand, but what about the skinny girl with the big eyes? What the fuck was THAT all about?
That film did a good number on me. And you know what? It's reverberations and repercussions are still felt today. I've dated my share of Lynn Halsey Taylors'. In fact I can recall with stunning clarity the events of a short but intense (on my part) liaison from last summer. I was very much into a young, pretty singer (not unlike Ms. Halsey Taylor) and I was interested in more than just her bed (Clint actually says to Lynn "Maybe I'm the first guy who's wanted to take you further than your bed" to which she starts to gouge his fucking eyes out) and my Lynn Halsey, well, she basically just shit on my feelings pretty darn good. Some life lessons learned take a few tries now don't they...
So, while my first encounter with Sondra Locke was completely confusing, shocking, and nonetheless titillating - I decided to stay clear of the doe-eyed vixen (Clint decided otherwise, but more on that later) for awhile. Well, that didn't last too long as good ol' WKBD was showing The Outlaw Josey Wales about a month or two after I saw Every Which Way in the theater. Now, as my friend Fred as well as good ol' Captain Spaulding are both fond of saying... "What the fuck is this shit?" Now the little minx is sweet and innocent?? Huh? Well maybe she's not so bad. And on that note...
If you place much stock in her auto-biography (and I place a lot) then I feel that Sondra was justified in all her actions towards Eastwood at the close of the 1990s. Her legal battles (of which she won all) took an additional negative toll on an already unpopular public opinion. She had two abortions while with Clint and later had a double mastectomy (breast cancer survivor). Pretty rough folks. Now, I love Clint Eastwood - as a director, actor, producer, icon, etc., but I can pretty easily state that if I was a woman, I probably wouldn't want to date the man.
Sondra could chomp a bit melodramatically on dialogue in her later films (Sudden Impact is an example, but I think her overall performance in that film is damn good) and her singing (showcased in the Every Which Way vehicles) was a bit, shall we say - untrained, but she had a fantastic spark and energy. I found her to be stunning and far more than just capable actress. She won a national talent hunt - sponsored by Warner Brothers - which got her the role of Mick Kelly in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and a nomination at the Academy Awards in the supporting actress role. Not bad for a debut. The simple fact is that both Alan Arkin and Sondra Locke are incredible in their roles. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter resonates long after its first viewing - especially the very tender and sweet relationship between Arkin and Locke. It is a deeply profound and very unforgettable film. You owe it to yourself to check it out. Sondra's last moment alone in the film is VERY tear inducing. But, the film, on the whole, belongs to its lead: Arkin - wow, what a performance. Sondra is pretty spellbinding herself though.
I also love her in Willard (1971) - another touching performance. But, I must explain the glorious fun of watching 1977's (shot in 75 according to some sources) Death Game aka The Seducers. One fun film my friends. This dude's wife and kid are away - it's his birthday and Sondra and her friend show up on a dark stormy night (they are supposedly "lost"). What ensues is a helluva fun ride. Weird, campy, and over the top - Death Game is a complete and total hoot! I Loved every weird little minute of it.
So - that's my two cents on Sondra Locke. I wish she would come back to the industry - I feel that at 61 she's still got a lot left to show us. I have always loved her even though she confused the fuck outta me back in 1978.