Even now, in her moment of vengeance, Sondra Locke looks vulnerable. She is petite and delicate, like a small bird. Her double-breasted black suit is too big for her. The shoes, flats, are all wrong for a power lunch. Her hazel eyes are plaintive. She smiles gratefully at the waiter announcing the specials.

Sondra Locke. Remember her? Her filmography says it all: "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" (1968) for which she was nominated for an Oscar; then "Willard" (1971), a cult movie about a rat. Then: "The Outlaw Josey Wales" (1976) with Clint Eastwood; "Every Which Way but Loose" (1978) with Clint Eastwood; "Bronco Billy" (1980) with Clint Eastwood; and "Any Which Way You Can" (1980) and "Sudden Impact" (1983) with -- you guessed it -- Clint Eastwood.

"He's like the emperor," Locke says. "He always had his own company store. If you were in Clint Eastwood movies, you were in the Clint Eastwood movie business. You weren't in the movie business. You weren't part of Hollywood. This became clear early on; people stopped calling. They automatically assumed I was working exclusively with Clint."

Shortly after that she wasn't working at all. Hollywood -- Clint's Hollywood -- swallowed her up and spit her out.

Now she's spitting back. In a new book, "The Good, the Bad & the Very Ugly," Locke unleashes her Southern fury on all those who failed her during her sink into oblivion: power-friends Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, producers Richard and Lili Fini Zanuck, and Warner Bros. studio chiefs Bob Daly and Terry Semel, among others.

But most of her vitriol, not surprisingly, is reserved for the man with whom she lived for 13 years, for whom she had two abortions (he didn't want any more kids, she says), whom she ultimately sued after he kicked her out and cut her off without so much as a "Thanks for the good times, kiddo."

The man America reveres as a national emblem of grit and courage and make-my-day machismo is not the Clint Eastwood portrayed in this book. The man Sondra Locke describes is cold and self-centered, childish and cowardly. Cheap. Jealous. An all-around louse.

Eastwood himself probably doesn't agree, but in the meantime he has no comment about the book. "We have nothing to say. He has no comment to make either," said Joe Hyams, Eastwood's publicist. His lawyers have written a warning letter to the publisher, William Morrow. The word is out that the media gives Locke a platform at its peril: "Entertainment Tonight" canceled a scheduled interview with the actress, instead running a segment on Eastwood's new movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." "Oprah" passed, saying they "were going to try and do Clint," according to a William Morrow publicist. "It's so clear that people are afraid to offend him," said the publicist, Sharyn Rosenblum.

But an "Entertainment Tonight" spokeswoman denied that there was pressure not to interview Locke. "After considering the material we realized it was the same old story told again. There was nothing new in the book," the spokeswoman said.

That's not exactly true. There are lots of new things in the book, none of them particularly nice. And Eastwood isn't the only one who may dislike it, Locke realizes. America might not appreciate her candor. His fans may not want to see an American giant cut down to size.

"I'm sorry he is who he is. As sorry as people are going to be, it was far more devastating to me to find out who he really was," she says. "I loved him. I entrusted myself to him." Life With Clint

The romance started in 1975 on the set of "The Outlaw Josey Wales," in which Locke played Laura Lee, one of several characters who joined Josey (Eastwood) on a quest to avenge his family's destruction during the Civil War. Locke, having won an Academy Award nomination with her first film, had a reputation in Hollywood as an actress with promise. Eastwood was the star of westerns and Dirty Harry movies -- a big box office draw.

The chemistry was instant. "He was more than handsome," she writes. "He was compelling. In spite of all the usual bustle and chaos on a movie set, there was a hushed aura surrounding him, like the quiet at the center of a storm. . . . Just as he was about to look away into the distant desert, he caught sight of me. I wasn't prepared for the way our eyes seemed to instantly fuse."

He invited her to dinner. She accepted. They became inseparable. Eastwood left his wife; Locke moved in. He bought them a magnificent country property, Rising River, in Northern California. They socialized with the Hollywood elite, such as close friends Schwarzenegger and Shriver. Eastwood cast Locke in his movies; he called her "sveetie" and "princess" and "elf." She called him "Daddy."

To live with Eastwood was to live the uniquely privileged existence reserved for American movie stars. Private planes arrived as transport; crowds parted; lines were nonexistent. The White House called with invitations. Movies (Eastwood's movies, anyway) were given the go-ahead with little fuss. The words "no" and "can't" vanished from her life. It was no wonder that their lives, for a very long time, were conflict-free.

If Eastwood had his flaws, Locke overlooked them. Sure, he was penny-pinching with employees at his production company; she didn't like that he seemed uncomfortable with other people's physical shortcomings. She says he even stole an idea of hers for his own movie. And in retrospect, there were warning signs that she should have heeded. When the star wanted to be rid of longtime partner Fritz Manes, he didn't fire him, he simply ignored him, and finally had an intermediary suggest that Manes quit. It was the same with another longstanding producer, Bob Daley.

But Eastwood loved Locke and supported her -- that is, as long as she remained in his orbit. As she sums it up in the book, "Clint was happy. Therefore, I was happy." The star frowned on her interest in expanding her acting career outside his movies; she let it drop. He finally acquiesced when she said she wanted to direct, and helped her land a project at Warner Bros., an offbeat, low-budget film, "Ratboy," and then another, "Impulse."

But her independence took a toll on the relationship, as she tells it. Eastwood withdrew -- in characteristic fashion -- without explanation. He would leave for Carmel on the spur of the moment before she could pack a bag to join him. (Later she learned that he was secretly involved with another woman, with whom he has two children, in Carmel.) Once, while she was still in the shower, he left to go to a party to which they'd both been invited. They didn't fight or exchange insults. With Eastwood, all was communicated by gesture, by inference -- by what wasn't said or done.

Things grew progressively worse. By early 1989 they barely saw each other. Locke suspected that he was tapping the phones. (He later confirmed in a deposition that he was.) Though she knew things were bad, she was unprepared for the abrupt end to their 13-year relationship one day in April. While she was on the set of "Impulse," Eastwood changed the locks to their house. He had her clothes boxed and removed, and it swiftly became as if she had never existed. Panicked, confused, Locke sued. In acrimonious depositions, Eastwood called his former lover his "occasional roommate . . . for 10 years." Still, she settled when he seemed prepared to give her what she really wanted: the opportunity to work. The linchpin of the accord was a deal at Warner Bros. where Locke would develop scripts to direct.

But three years into that deal, and after more than a dozen rejections by the studio heads of every script she brought them, she realized that the deal was a sham. Neither Eastwood nor Warner Bros. had intended her to work; she was meant to disappear. So she sued again, this time for fraud. In court Warner Bros. Chairman Terry Semel said Locke's inexperience was the reason none of her scripts was approved for production. Eastwood, meanwhile, testified that he'd been victimized by Locke's suit after years of supporting her and casting her in movies. He said, "I felt it was like social extortion of a kind, blackmail or whatever you want to call it."

But when Locke settled this suit in 1996 for an undisclosed sum, she felt vindicated; the deal came after the jury went into deliberations and seemed poised to rule in her favor. As it turns out, it was. "We didn't buy Mr. Eastwood's argument," says juror Yvonne Beltzer, a newswriter at KNBC in Los Angeles. "We felt that he had bought his way out of a palimony suit. More or less 11 out of 12 people had come to the same conclusion."

She adds, "As a juror, what really killed the case for Mr. Eastwood was the Warner Brothers executives who sat there and said, Nothing she did had any merit.' . . . They sounded like they would say whatever they were paid to say."

The book details that ordeal and more; her life has not been easy or simple. After the first lawsuit she was diagnosed with breast cancer, resulting in a double mastectomy. She is still struggling to get a directing project going, though she recently got the go-ahead for a movie at Showtime. Much of the book is also devoted to her relationship with Gordon Anderson, a childhood friend from Tennessee and lifelong companion (they have been legally married since 1967, though Anderson is openly gay) whose spiritual, para-normal experiences have influenced her outlook on life.

But the heart of the book is her take on Clint. Willfully or not, he crushed her. He ruined her life. Now she most of all wants to tell her side of things. "I think he thought I'd go away, because he always gets his way," Locke says. "He just wills people to do things, he would say that all the time. And he was willing me to go away. And I didn't. So he had to make it happen, which is not his way."

She draws a breath. "I'd been so reasonable. He got off so easily. He broke all his promises with such a cavalier hand. And I reasoned it all away; I just wanted to go forward, I just wanted to work. It seemed more important to me."

Eastwood, in an interview with Playboy in March, said Locke remained "obsessed" with the relationship, and had had an "unhealthy" closeness with Anderson. "I didn't want to be with someone who had some strange thing going on," he said. As for the deal with Warner Bros., he said, "It was my fault. . . . I tried to help. I thought she would get directing assignments, but it didn't work out that way."

Locke demurs. "People can say, He made her famous, he gave her movies.' " She shakes her head. "He didn't give me movies, I did a job. He didn't make me famous. It was never my fame -- it was his fame. I was Clint's girl. I only stood to lose professionally." A pause. "I didn't think about it initially, but three years in, I knew it. I saw it. Certainly I take responsibility for it." Had she pursued her own career, she goes on, "I understood it would be at the risk of our relationship. And when I did, that was the beginning of the end." Hollywood Chill

For Locke, learning about the less sympathetic side of Clint Eastwood was synonymous with learning about the cruel side of Hollywood. When it was good with the movie star, life was easy, perfect, a dream. When things soured for the couple, every aspect of the life she had built with him disappeared.

In Hollywood, Eastwood is one of the masters of the universe. It is possible for him to pretend that Locke never existed, as he did in a 90-minute TNT special, "Eastwood on Eastwood," that aired this month. Who would want to remind him? Similarly, friends may have decided that it is impolitic to associate with Locke since the split. In Hollywood, friendship is frequently another form of networking; loyalty can be an expendable commodity.

So it went for her. At first friends were aghast at the way Eastwood cast Locke out. Then slowly they fell away; Shriver failed to testify on Locke's behalf at a deposition. So did Lili Zanuck, who was busy working on a movie. Television producer Bud Yorkin and his wife, Cynthia, initially put Locke up and stored her boxed belongings when she was in the throes of the breakup; after a short time, they requested that she move out. "I didn't realize how much relationships here are more about business than anything else," Locke says, a sad lilt entering her voice. "People in Hollywood on that level -- such a high-stakes level -- these people make it their business to know the people who will possibly benefit them. As opposed to having a heart connection, a soul connection."

But maybe it was more complicated than that. In a telephone interview, Yorkin said that there was no way for friends to choose between Locke and Eastwood. "It's like in any divorce; I could mention a dozen things she did wrong and you'd say, Geez, I can't believe Clint stuck with her,' " he said. "There's always two sides to every coin. Let's grow up and move on." He added that Locke lived in his guest house for three months before he asked her to move out, and that other friends were similarly supportive. "People know us and Maria Shriver and Arnold {Schwarzenegger} as people who don't dump on people. I don't live my life that way," he said.

Speaking through a publicist, Shriver said she hadn't read Locke's book but "I always enjoyed her as a person and I wish her the best."

In the end, the only one who stuck with Locke was Gordon Anderson, who remains her close companion, and a doctor she met during her ordeal with cancer, Scott Cunneen. He and Locke now live together. One Regret

At 50, Locke is older, yes, and wiser. But she manages, somehow, to seem naive as well.

When lunch is over she heads off to a photo shoot, not stopping to check herself in the mirror or even apply lipstick. She wears almost no makeup to begin with, and has done nothing to mask the tiny lines beneath her eyes or the small imperfection on her upper lip. At some level Locke seems terminally unable to adopt the pretense that is so much a part of Hollywood. Which may be what Clint Eastwood liked about her in the first place.

Is she not fearful that her book will spark even more hostility toward her in the movie business? She shakes her head. "I feel like now, in a sense, with all he's done to me, in some quarters it's already irreversible," she says. "To write a book is perhaps my only chance of conveying who I am, of turning around some people who don't need him. At least I'll have had the chance of saying who I am."

She smiles ruefully. "My biggest misfortune, my greatest regret, is that I wish I'd cut my time with Clint in half. I wouldn't say I wish I never had the relationship, but I wish I'd found a way, I'd understood who he was, where it would end, five or six years earlier so I could have gotten on with things." She strokes a still-smooth cheek. "I just feel like, Oh my God, I've lost so much time. If only I were 40, it wouldn't be so bad." She sighs. "If I were 40." CAPTION: "He didn't make me famous," says Sondra Locke, Clint Eastwood's former girlfriend and film co-star, left and top (in 1977's "The Gauntlet"). "It was never my fame -- it was his fame." Right, Eastwood and wife Dina Ruiz at the premiere of his latest film this week. CAPTION: The happy couple: Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke in 1982, following a State Department screening of his film "Firefox."