Clint Eastwood was one resourceful actor back in the day

Clint Eastwood is a renowned actor who made great action movies.  He is also a very accomplished director. He is a very accomplished musician to boot.  He wrote a couple musical scores for movies he directed.  On top of all this he became a mountain climber for a role in a 1975 action thriller.

The film Eiger Sanction has a segment where Clint climbs the Totem Pole in Monument Valley, Arizona. When I first saw the scene I was sure a double did the climbing for Clint, but no, Clint did it all the way to the top. The Totem Pole is a pillar or rock spire found in Monument Valley. It is a highly eroded remains of a butte. It is 470 feet tall.  Clint practiced mountain climbing in the Sierra Nevada range in California. Talk about taking a role seriously.

Totem Pole.


In what is perhaps the most memorable shot of the entire film, we find Eastwood arriving atop the Totem Pole, a very thin formation reaching several hundred feet high, to a waiting George Kennedy, who sits perilously close to the edge. The shot begins at medium length, which left me wondering if the scene was shot in a studio against a panoramic backdrop. But a short time later, all within the same shot, the camera pulls back wider and wider, becoming clear this is a helicopter shot and Eastwood and Kennedy are really atop the Totem Pole.

Apparently Kennedy and his mountain climbing props were dropped off by the helicopter, while Eastwood himself actually climbed. In reality, the Totem Pole is sacred to the Navajo tribe, and it was contractually agreed upon that permission would be granted to film in exchange for removing the pitons that had accumulated on the Pole over the years. This marked the last time anyone was allowed to climb the Totem Pole, making Eastwood the last person to scale it.










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