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A fistful of goodwil

Clint looks like a 'Million,' but tree fight looms

Clint Eastwood’s integrity has become a banner for more than just his films.

The filmmaker’s rep as a humility-drenched mensch whose auteur-driven movies have trouble getting financed by corporate-owned studios was front and center at this year’s Academy Awards. A fawning aud watched as Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” wracked up four Oscars and the director saluted his 96-year-old mother, who was seated in the crowd.

Indeed, Dirty Harry was more like His Highness Harry.

But that hallowed esprit is being put to the test as Eastwood advances one of his property developments in Northern California.

Eastwood’s Pebble Beach Co. (he’s one of three principal owners) wants to cut down 17,000 Monterey pines to build a golf course and expand the hotel facilities at the Pebble Beach links.

To convince naysayers of the project — there are many in eco-friendly Northern California — Alan Williams, who’s managing the project for Pebble Beach Co., is touting Eastwood’s vaunted reputation.

“I think what comes forward here is the integrity of the man,” Williams said. “He puts as much into this as his movies.”

Eastwood’s Hollywood fans seem to have forgotten his former life as a pro-business mayor of Carmel, much as they’ve forgotten his days portraying a renegade cop, not the curmudgeonly softie who doesn’t train girl boxers.

With Eastwood keeping his distance from the Pebble Beach dispute, it seems he’d like to keep it that way.

The trouble may also be that Eastwood’s filmmaking style — he’s known for keeping to a tight schedule, often using first takes — doesn’t translate to messy, arduous negotiations with bureaucrats and environmentalists.

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