Clint Eastwood vs Charlie Branch

I heard on NPR near the end of May that Clint Eastwood completed his 89th year of this earthly life.  Did I really hear 89?  That’s only a year younger than Dad!  Thinking about his works that I’ve seen, including the character Rowdy Yates in Rawhide, Lt. Kelly in Kelly’s Heroes, Sir Richard Burton’s partner in Where Eagles Dare, the Man-with-No-Name in Sergio Leone’s trilogy of spaghetti westerns, the character Harry Callaghan in another series of movies, and his director’s works, it’s all rather incredible.  He also served as the mayor of Carmel, CA.

I wanted to play it with an economy of words and create this whole feeling through attitude and movement. It was just the kind of character I had envisioned for a long time, keep to the mystery and allude to what happened in the past. It came about after the frustration of doing Rawhide for so long. I felt the less he said, the stronger he became and the more he grew in the imagination of the audience.

— Eastwood, on playing the Man with No Name character    In: McGilligan, Patrick (2015). Clint: The Life and Legend (updated and revised). New York: OR BooksISBN 978-1-939293-96-1.

Actions often speak louder than words, or “words without deeds are dead.”  That may be in the Bible…  (I just wanted to see if anybody noticed, for it’s definitely there.)  Often times, merely a small action makes a big difference in someone’s life.  Several times a parent delivering students to Sorensen Magnet School in the morning has rolled their window down to tell me that seeing my smile and wave gives them a lift to the start of their day.

Gran Torino is a great movie in that way.  Clint directed and starred as the old man of the neighborhood that has changed through his years of living there.  He still rocks on the porch in the evenings, but lately with a shotgun in his lap to deter mischief from the peer groups of immigrant teenagers passing by.  (Nationality or ethnicity doesn’t matter, does it?  We’re all different and unique.)  After his property is damaged by one of these groups, a younger lad walks up and begins to help him repair the damage.  After this first visit, the young man’s visits become more frequent, and he learns more about and from Clint’s character, and the latter learns and understands more from the young man, and his family.  When it’s time, guess who teaches this young man to drive and what car they’ve been working on and use in the endeavor?   From being at odds with each other in the neighborhood, both arrive at rewarding relationships.

I have tried to explain to my brother that if you stop talking and listen, you’ll find that everyone has a story to tell and they appreciate a good listener.  A neighbor told me on my second visit over coffee about his service as a navy pilot (1960-1967, involuntarily extended two years to deploy with VF-213 to SE Asia).  I wrote up his story the next day, handed it to him several days later on my next visit (over coffee), and it was much appreciated.  In fact, he invited me to go through his material together sometime, and there is potential for a magazine article in his past adventures.  That’s just the Navy, not to mention the airlines.  You just never know who you’ll meet, but they always appear for a reason.

The first chapter of the Letter of James (reference “Lesson Three: Listening and Doing” in Max Lucado’s Life Lessons from James: Practical Wisdom with a shameless plug from/for the McCarty Christcare Group) observes in James 1: 19, “Let every man be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to indignation…”

– David Bentley Hart translation, c. 2017.  The translation of this first chapter stands without explanation of alternative meanings dating from the first century Greeks.   So these principles have been around for at least two thousand years, and definitely stand the test of time.

The question has always been “Will I stand the test?” and I find the answer given in Philippians 4:13: “I have strength for all things in Him who gives me the power.”


Charlie Branch

(I will always be a ‘military brat’ even though we never lived in base housing until Dad’s last AF duty station, 1970-72 at Grand Forks AFB, ND, a 15-mile bus ride to Red River SHS.)

P.S.  You don’t need this part, but I need to go get laundry out of the dryer and dry the washer load for Morgan, Audrey and Zach.  Nice to have an excuse/reason to visit with the baby…  CB





  1. Reply
    Teel says

    WOW! Charlie! what an interesting blog! I have always been an Eastwood fan for his directorial abilities as well as his acting skills. Also..what about his music scores? So talented! But everything you wrote here is so interesting! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Reply
    Carol Landon says

    Very inspirational & true & especially love the memo of your growing family!!
    You have a gift for writing!
    Thanks for sharing !!

  3. Reply
    Bev Turner says

    You definitely have a talent for writing!!! I adored Clint and all his talents, as well. Thanks Charlie.

  4. Reply
    Robert Branch says

    The “old man of the neighborhood” fought in Korea, came home to a job with the Ford Motor Company, bought and paid for his post-war bungalow in a suburb of Detroit. The Gran Torino was special as the last of them rolled off the assembly line when he retired on his pension. He watched as the neighbors either moved, or passed away, and the property values declined. He can’t afford to move. His life was, and is here. Why should he?
    Interesting that you found a parable about listening in this film. It’s one of my favorites, along with Big Fish (a caricature of our paternal grandfather), Second-hand Lions, and the Princess Bride. Courage and Sacrifice are what I got from Clint Eastwood, but then, I never listen.

  5. Reply
    Corey Cherrstrom says

    Charlie you never cease to amaze me, as above you have a great writing gift. Reminds me of John Gierach. Amazes me that “listen more and talk less” lesson has been around so long but we still haven’t learned.

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