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Films to See Before You Die: #49 Gran Torino


Gran Torino (2008)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley

Synopsis: Walt Kowalski’s (Clint Eastwood), wife has just passed away leaving him alone in his house and his neighbourhood which has been overcome by Hmong families. He has a prized possession in his 1972 Gran Torino that he installed the steering wheel on himself while working for the Ford factory. At his wife’s wake he is approached by the pastor Father Janovich (Christopher Carley), who promised Walt’s wife that he would look over him and asks if he’s like to give confession but Walt blows him off. One night while asleep he hears someone rifling through his garage so he goes to make a further inspection and find a young boy trying to steal his car but before he can do anything he trips and the boy gets away. A few nights later there is a commotion next door because a few of the neighbourhood gang members are punishing his neighbour Thao (Bee Vang), for not following through on his initiation into their gang. After the scuffle lands on Walt’s lawn he points his rifle at the men assaulting Thao and tells them to get off his lawn and they run off. The next day Thao’s family in an affort to thank Walt for what he did offer him Thao’s services to do chores, also to apologize for Thao trying to steal his car, furious Walt reluctantly accepts. He quickly takes a shine to Thao and his sister Sue (Ahney Her), who also embrace Walt as a sort of father figure. But when the gang members won’t leave Thao, alone Walt, must make a decision and the ultimate sacrifice.

Trivia: In box office terms, the most successful Clint Eastwood movie ever, both in the U.S. and the U.K, but not with inflation. Taking inflation into account, his most successful films are Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can. Open casting calls for Hmong actors were held in Hmong communities in Detroit, Michigan; Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Fresno, California. Only Doua Moua had been in a film before.

Why I think you should see this: I just adore Clint Eastwood and his films, he has been making some great films lately. This film is very powerful with a sad but uplifting ending. They did a real good job casting Walt’s friends Thao and Sue who are played by unknown Hmong actors. This is just film making at its finest with what was supposed to be Clint’s last role but he has a new film this fall which I can’t wait to see. Check this one out you won’t regret it.


About Trevor

Hi my name is Trevor and this is my blog! Films are a passion of mine. I am a total film geek. I own over 700 films and the collection is ever growing. I studied Film Studies and Scriptwriting in College. What I have learned about films is mostly self taught.

8 responses to “Films to See Before You Die: #49 Gran Torino

  1. momshieb

    It seems that my taste and yours are a perfect 50% match! Some of these films (Avatar, Edward Scissorhands) are among my favorite, while others (Gangs of NY) are my least favorite! Ever watch some old films, from the 70’s or earlier? “Easy Rider” and “Cutter and Bone” come to mind for me.

  2. noa834 ⋅

    I loved this film too. Really memorable.

  3. jmount43 ⋅

    Between this and Million Dollar Baby I don’t which was filled more tragedy per frame. This is Clint Eastwood at his best as not only a director, but as an actor as well.

  4. Glad you listed this movie. I think it is one of the all-time-greats and maybe one of my top two Clint Eastwood films (the other is Unforgiven).
    Greetings from north of the Arctic Circle.

  5. Awesome, awesome movie – as is “Harry Brown”! Kim*

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