Richard Schickel says with a laugh that he has "no objectivity about Clint."
It isn't merely because the film historian and longtime Time magazine critic has written extensively about Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood.
"He's a great guy to hang out with, to have dinner with, talk about all kinds of things, not necessarily movie stuff," says Schickel, who has created The Eastwood Factor, an intimate documentary about the filmmaker-actor that is part of the extensive new boxed set Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros.
For more than 50 years, Eastwood has had a tough-guy image, but the author says a lot of fans don't "know a great deal about Clint in a funny way." They're clinging to the Dirty Harry image from early in his career.
Schickel paints a portrait of "true likability. I don't think they get the intelligence of the man, the wit of the man. ... There is nobody on the planet that I'd rather have dinner with than Clint," he says. "He's just fun to be with and unpretentious. I mean he's a cool guy."
Cool guy yes, but, Schickel says, Eastwood always has been aware of "the dark side of masculinity." That theme has come out in many of his films going back to The Beguiled (1971), directed by Eastwood's mentor, Don Siegel.
"When he was doing movies like High Plains Drifter (1973), he was largely playing a fairly toughish sort of guy," Schickel says, "but I think at that very time, he was questioning the value of the characters he was playing in these genre movies."
Throughout his career, that issue came to the fore and became urgent for the filmmaker.
The only Warner Bros. Eastwood film not included in the box set is Invictus, released this year.
Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros. retails for $179.98.