• Eastwood as subject of perverse fascination

Wednesday, November 28, at 7:30 PM at the Portage, the Northwest Chicago Film Society will screen The Beguiled (1971), the least characteristic of Clint Eastwood’s five collaborations with director Don Siegel. Made just after their comic western Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) and just before Dirty Harry (1971), the film is a brooding psychodrama set during the Civil War, with Eastwood as a wounded Union soldier who gets taken in by an all-girls boarding school. He soon becomes an object of desire for all the inhabitants, children and adults alike, and this brings to a boil long-simmering rivalries between them. The movie touches on themes of pedophilia, incest, and Freudian trauma; it still has the power to shock those who only know Siegel as an action director.

I spoke with NCFS programmer Kyle Westphal the other day about this cinematic oddity and how it fits into the organization’s commitment to revisionist film history. Our conversation follows.