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HBO Max Day-and Date Release Ends a Long, Lonely Trail for Clint Eastwood's 'Cry Macho,' Starting Friday (Trailer)

Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Cry Macho'
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

HBO Max subscribers have been treated to a few DC Comics-based tentpoles, a reboot of classic Japanese monster movie, and a Denzel Washington-led serial killer flick. 

And on Friday, their subscription will get them day-and-date access to another typically reliable theatrical enterprise, Clint Eastwood's Latest Film, in this case, Cry Macho. Like every other Warner Bros. Pictures title in 2021, Cry Macho will debut simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max streaming, sans an additional "PVOD" charge. 

Eastwood, now 91, once again directs and stars, this time as a washed up rodeo star, asked by his former boss (played by Dwight Yoakam) to go to Mexico and bring back his teenage son, Lucas (relative newcomer Ivan Hernandez) , who is on a road to nowhere good while living with an alcoholic mother. 

Getting off the beaten path to avoid trouble as they make their way up through Texas, Eastwood's Mike Milo finds redemption for a haggard life not always well spent, teaching the boy a thing or two about how to live an honorable male adulthood. 

You could say that Arnold Palmer could have retired as just a man who merely invented a simple concocted beverage blending ice tea and lemonade, and that alone might have defined a fairly notable career for most people.

The brand name Clint Eastwood, when its output finally culminates, will certainly come to define a number of different meanings, too. Iconic Spaghetti Westerns. Gritty crime dramas that captured an anxious zeitgeist. Silly buddy comedies co-starring chimpanzees. Prison-escape classics. Jingoistic Reagan-era propaganda films. Heartbreaking Oscar-winners culminating in catastrophic spinal-injury. 

Eastwood's long, varied, distinguished career has unfolded in epochs, the last and most current one spanning the last three decades, in which he has carved out an entirely unique award-winning presence (four Oscars) in the movie business as an auteur who almost always chooses interesting projects ... and as a filmmaker who usually makes the most of these opportunities. 

You may not agree with the man's politics, conspicuously on display during that weird empty chair bit at the 2012 Republican National Convention, or his somewhat old school takes on race and modern masculinity, laid bare in his 2008 film Gran Torino.

But let's call Eastwood for what he is. 

A few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times curiously labeled prolific career comedic supporting actress Molly Shannon a "comedy legend." So yes, Eastwood has been making movies long enough for the definition of "legend" to be watered down like a refreshing non-alcoholic lunch beverage. 

But make no mistake, he is one. Will we have an opportunity to witness the culmination of an iconic career from our living rooms Friday night?

Eastwood hasn't said explicitly that Cry Macho will be his last in a film career that includes 45 directing credits alone. But if it is, the chance to stream the movie--which arrives with weak 53% review aggregation on Rotten Tomatoes --has additional elements of curiosity and intrigue for HBO.

Indeed, Cry Macho has ridden a pretty long trail to HBO Max, too. 

Writer N. Richard Nash's first unsuccessfully pitched the story to Fox as a screenplay--twice--before adapting it as a novel in 1975. The success of the book convinced Fox to finally let the ol' bull out of the stable. 

In 1988, after a stint in development hell, producer Albert Ruddy pitched the project to Eastwood, who demured to shoot another "Dirty Harry" picture, recommending Robert Mitchum for the lead. That never happened. 

Filming finally began in Mexico in 1991, with Roy Scheider wearing the big cowboy hat, but production was never completed. Burt Lancaster and Pierce Brosnan also negotiated for the lead role in Cry Macho, as did Arnold Schwarzenegger, who bowed out several times--once to become governor of California, the other one after his big nanny affair scandal. 

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. His reliable mid-range jump shot, deft ambidextrous post-up game and tough interior defense have been criminally overlooked.