A Tribute to Clint Eastwood
Younger filmgoers would probably be surprised to learn that at one time Clint Eastwood was considered by critics to be in the same category as Ahnold, or Sly Stallone — a glorified B-movie hero. He specialized in spaghetti westerns and violent cop shows, and his repertoire of expressions included two: grim and grimmer.
Were you to step back in time and inform those same critics that this man — whose movies often ended with him calmly shooting a large number of people — had become not only an icon of American film, but an auteur as well, you would no doubt be greeted with horse laughter (no pun intended).
But such are the possibilities in American film in the 21st century, and today The Man With No Name is the man whose name is spoken with reverence. Dirty Harry has become the Commissioner, and with good reason: He has survived when others have fallen, he’s made a lot of loyal friends, and he knows what he’s doing.
Born in San Francisco, California in 1930, he began his film career as a B-movie actor before landing a lead role on the TV series Rawhide. He became a big star, but it was just the beginning. He found a niche as The Man With No Name in a series of “spaghetti” westerns, including A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and the very successful The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966). (The genre also included the later Hang ‘Em High (1968) and High Plains Drifter (1973).)
He proved he was more than a cowboy star in Where Eagles Dare (1968), with Richard Burton, Coogan’s Bluff (1968), Paint Your Wagon(1969), and Kelly’s Heroes (1970). The following year he appeared in three films, Play Misty for Me, The Beguiled, and Dirty Harry, the latter giving him an iconic role that even eclipsed The Man With No Name. He continued to hit the boxoffice bullseye throughout the 70s, with Joe Kidd (1972), Magnum Force (1973), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), The Enforcer (1976), and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976).
He turned to comedy in the late 70s, with Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and more thrillers, such as Escape from Alcatraz (1979).Honkytonk Man (1982) and Firefox (1982) were well-received, and Sudden Impact (1983) was the fourth (and some believe the best) in the Dirty Harry series. By this time he was one of the top boxoffice stars in Hollywood.
However, his star began to fade in the mid-eighties, with solid but unspectacular films such as Tightrope (1984), City Heat (1984), and The Dead Pool (1988), and films that didn’t do well at all, such as The Rookie (1990) and Pink Cadillac (1989). He directed the Charlie Parker biography Bird (1988) and White Hunter Black Heart (1990), a John Huston biopic.
Then came Unforgiven (1992), bringing with it an Oscar for Best Director, plus a nomination for Best Actor. In the Line of Fire (1993) was a hit, as well as The Bridges of Madison County (1995). He also directed the well-received Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in 1997. FollowingTrue Crime (1999), Blood Work (2002), and Space Cowboys (2000), Eastwood hit gold twice in a row, first with a Best Director nomination for Mystic River (2003), and most recently a smash hit with Million Dollar Baby (2004), which won Best Picture and Best Actor, plus a nomination for him for Best Director.
We can only hope that his career continues on this upward trend, bringing us even more important and entertaining films and further solidifying his reputation as one of the best there ever was.
Part I: Introduction
Part III: Movie Reviews & Where to Find His Movies