Was Clint Eastwood convincing as a Polish-American in "Gran Torino"?

In the film Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood plays a retired auto-worker and veteran named “Walt Kowalski,” a Catholic in a Detroit working-class neighborhood which was presumably at one point mostly white.

I wasn’t entirely convinced by his accent, though, which sounded more like a California roughneck than anything I’d expect to hear from a rust-belt Midwestern Polish-American. I always thought that Michigan white-ethnic blue collar guys would sound like the “duh Bears” guys from SNL or maybe even like a greatly toned-down version of the “Fargo” accent.

Can someone who has seen this movie and has known Midwestern industrial blue-collar people of Eastern European background comment on Eastwood’s accent and mannerisms? Did he get it right or not?

He had his own accent. He sounded nothing like an Northern Midwesterner. Probably just as well, because doing it poorly would be much more distracting than not doing it at all.

He’s Clint f-ing Eastwood, he doesn’t have to get the accent right. He was playing a cranky old man, he sure got that part right.

A very plausible performance as an aged Kowalski, IMO. Accent’s reasonably close.

Those accents aren’t Detroit accents.

I’ve never seen the movie, but have seen the trailers. I had no idea he was supposed to be affecting a Polish-American accent. I grew up in a very Polish-American community in Chicago (and both my parents are Polish-born), and he didn’t really sound anything like what the Polish-Americans around here sound like.

No, but the Detroit accent is in the same accent family as Chicago (along with Buffalo, Cleveland, Milwaukee, etc.) It’s the Inland North American English accent (or Great Lakes accent.) There’s obviously differences between all of them (hell, even in Chicago there’s a couple accents, some saying shih-CAH-go, others insisting on shih-CAW-go), but they are all in the same ballpark. Fargo, though? No, completely different.

I’m not sure they’re completely different. I didn’t hear any Fargo-like accents when I was growing up in Western New York, but darn if Lucille Ball (who grew up not 20 miles from my hometown) doesn’t sound just a bit like the stereotypical Northern Great Plains accent.

Some accents in those cities are from the same family of accents, but the Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo accents don’t create the impression of the “Duh Bearss” accent mentioned in the OP.

Sure, the stereotypical exaggerated “duh Bearssss” accent is overstating it but, to my ears, Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, and to a lesser extent Detroit all sound very similar. So much so, that on my first day in college, a student came up to me and immediately identified me as being either from Chicago or Cleveland, based on my accent. (Chicago was the correct answer.) I’ve dated three girls from Buffalo, and I’d be hard-pressed to identify the differences between that accent and Chicago.

I’m sure there’s a continuum there. But, to my ears, once you head to northwest Wisconsin and over into Minnesota, the vowels and accent patterns change a bit. The accent is more sing-songy, there is evidence of Canadian raising in certain dialects (the “about” = “aboot/aboat” stereotype). This is the North Central American English dialect.

According to that, I guess I was wrong in calling Inland North American English the Great Lakes accent. Apparently, North Central American English is Great Lakes. My bad.

While the movie is depicted as taking place in Michigan, the original story (and true background information for the storyline) took place in Minneapolis. So consider it a Polish-American accent with Minnesota-Scandinavian roots.

The story makes far more sense as taking place in Minneapolis as well, as there is a far greater Hmong population there. It would have made sense to set it in Hamtramck (instead of Highland Park, which was where they shot some local scenes), which has a historic Polish population and has become a bastion of multiculturalism in recent times, but a Hmong gang is far more likely in Minneapolis.