Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Clint Eastwood’s 70s Classic That Spawned a Bonkers TV Show

Clint Eastwood’s 70s Classic That Spawned a Bonkers TV Show

Clint Eastwood fans know all about the actor-director’s incredible streak of hit movies that fill up his resume. So, it probably boggles some of their minds as to why he’d make a movie with an orangutan. Man, if you think that’s wild, then wait until you hear about a TV show loosely based on it.

Eastwood – Rowdy Yates, the Man With No Name, Harry Callahan himself – took to the big screen in 1978 with Every Which Way but Loose. In the movie, he plays a boxer truck driver named Philo Beddoe. He finds himself in a search across the American West for Lynn, played by Sondra Locke.

Now, on this trip, Philo is really weighed down by his brother Orville, played by Geoffrey Lewis, and Clyde, the orangutan. People who saw the movie back in the day observed Philo dealing with a bunch of bikers. He’s got Clyde along for the ride, but the orangutan really cannot stand up to fight the gang.

Plus, we get a climactic fight scene between Philo and his nemesis Tank Murdock, played by Walter Burnes. Philo lets the aging fighter win in a bare-knuckle brawl. Throughout Every Which Way but Loose, we see Clint Eastwood interact with Clyde in a funny, humorous way. While the movie was panned by Clint Eastwood critics, fans made their way to the box office. As it turns out, this movie and the sequel, Any Which Way You Can, rank among the top-grossing pictures in Eastwood’s career.

Clint Eastwood Film Lures In TV Executives

There are plenty of scenes where Philo and Clyde interact with one another. TV executives saw this Clint Eastwood flick and they wanted to try and replicate this movie’s vibe on the small screen. This TV show also picked up on the cultural craze around C.B. radios. Toss in popular movies like Convoy and Smokey and the Bandit, and you have some background through which the show was created.

B.J. and the Bear starred Greg Evigan as Billie Joe “B.J.” McKay, a truck driver who drives on America’s highways and roads with his chimpanzee named Bear. Would you believe the show lasted three seasons on NBC? Well, it did.

Now, B.J. had returned home after spending two years in Vietnam. The show’s plot had him imprisoned at the Hanoi Hilton. His helicopter was shot down out of the sky. Most of the show’s episodes have B.J. helping someone get out of certain trouble.

Interestingly enough, B.J. will do battle against crime in cities he’d be driving through. Episodes would show some damsel in distress reaching out to B.J. for help. He would stay around and do his best to clean up the riff-raff. All the time, we see Bear riding along with B.J. in his truck. Just like Clyde did with Philo in Every Which Way but Loose and its sequel, Any Which Way You Can.