WILD ABOUT HARRY
No magnum force, but lots of star power as the Mancini Institute pulled out all the stops to honor the guy who gave us “Dirty Harry.” Clint Eastwood was the man of note at this year’s splashy Mancini Musicale gala at UCLA’s Royce Hall.
True, we’ve come to think of him as a macho, tough guy in flicks like “The Enforcer,” “In the Line of Fire” and “Unforgiven,” but the actor is also respected for his musical talent, and that was what this evening was all about.
“We chose to honor Clint for his distinguished contributions to the world of music,” explained Mancini Institute President Ginny Mancini. “He has an impressive history of incorporating jazz into his films and has touched our lives in a very special way.”
Before Harry got his gun, Eastwood was spinning contemporary tunes in “Play Misty For Me.” Then came sounds of the Old West. But his all-time favorite is all that jazz, and high on that list is “Bird,” the critically acclaimed biography of the late, great Charlie Parker. As for encores, Eastwood has just finished scoring “Mystic River”-a new film starring Sean Penn and Tim Robbins.
The evening wrapped up another successful season of the Mancini Institute’s Summer Concert Series, which featured a wide range of musical programs. One of the most popular was a tribute to film composers with appearances by Randy Newman as well as the music men and women behind such films as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and the “Red Violin.” Even that Huckleberry friend Andy Williams got in on the act with a special rendition of “Moon River.”
Prior to the awards ceremony, Eastwood mingled with guests at an al fresco dinner before making his way into the auditorium to settle in and enjoy performances by Arturo Sandoval and Diana Krall. Krall’s voice was velvety smooth as she delighted the crowd with “Why Should I Care,” which was co-written by Dirty Harry himself. Sandoval took the stage with the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra and performed “Doe Eyes” from “The Bridges of Madison County.”
Composer Quincy Jones presented his buddy with the Hank Award. “Clint is a jazz lover and a great human being,” QJ said. “To have all this come together, it’s divinity.”
But music aside, the actor-turned-politician-turned- actor was also bombarded with recall-related questions. What advice would he have for fellow action hero and political hopeful Arnold Schwarzenegger? “Keep your eye on the ball and take the club back slow,” he quipped.
Well, who knows? If the Terminator strikes out in politics, there is always the greener pasture of golf.