ICONS: The Films of Clint Eastwood
For over 50 years, Actor/Director/Producer/Musician Clint Eastwood has been an icon in the world of cinema. From the early days when he starred as “The Man With No Name” and Dirty Harry through to when he got behind the camera to tell his own cinematic stories, Clint has been one of our biggest heroes working in the film business. With his latest controversial box office hit “AMERICAN SNIPER” currently in theaters we thought now would be the perfect time to make a new list of our favorite furious films from his acting career. Included are some brief synopsis’ and thoughts on the titles we’ve chosen.
Following his role as Rowdy Yates on the popular Western TV show Rawhide, these three groundbreaking spaghetti westerns turned Clint into an internationally famous star. They are some of the greatest works of genre cinema ever produced.
Hang ‘Em High (1968, Dir: Ted Post)
When Clint arrived back in America after working with Sergio Leone, this Western was his first Hollywood outing. Jed Cooper (Eastwood), a cattleman, is wrongly accused of murder and stealing from a rancher. He is then hung by a lynch mob but barely survives. Cooper later becomes a deputy for the Oklahoma territory and sets out to bring the gang of men who attacked him to justice. Co-starring Inger Stevens, Bruce Dern, Ed Begley Sr, Dennis Hopper.
In Clint’s first collaboration with his pal Don Siegel he plays Coogan, an Arizona lawman who travels to New York City to extradite a criminal (Don Stroud) on the lam. This modern urban Western set during the hippie era is still striking for its depiction of violence. Co-starring Susan Clark, Lee J. Cobb.
In this hit crime-thriller, Clint is Harry Callahan, a rebellious San Francisco police detective who must catch a psychopathic serial killer known as “Scorpio” (Andrew Robinson) spreading fear in the city. Harry turned out to be one of Clint’s most famous roles and featured memorable dialogue like “Do ya feel lucky punk?”. It would be followed by several successful sequels. Co-starring Reni Santoni.
A Western that brought in supernatural thriller elements to the genre which gave it a much needed reimagining. “The Stranger” (Eastwood) a mysterious drifter, stops to rest in a small mining town where the residents are haunted by the death of their former sheriff. The Stranger’s deadly skill with a gun turns him into the town’s only hope when a trio of murderous outlaws come looking for revenge. Co-starring Billy Curtis, Geoffrey Lewis, Anthony James, Mitchell Ryan.
The Eiger Sanction (1975, Dir: Clint Eastwood)
College art history professor Jonathan Hemlock (Eastwood) is a retired secret assassin for the government. When his former director of operations Mr. Dragon (Thayer David) approaches him with a new assignment, Hemlock refuses. Dragon then blackmails Hemlock into taking on the job by mentioning his priceless art collection, bought with untaxed funds from his past “work”. Hemlock’s advanced skills in mountain climbing also come into play when he learns his latest target is taking part in a competition. Co-starring George Kennedy, Vonetta McGee, Jack Cassidy.
Play Misty For Me (1971, Dir: Clint Eastwood)
You might expect Clint’s directorial debut to be a Western, but he opted for a chilling Fatal Attraction style psychological thriller instead. The story focuses on a California based radio DJ (Eastwood) who is stalked by an obsessed psychotic female fan (Jessica Walter). Clint filmed this in and around his hometown of Carmel, California.
Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970, Dir: Don Siegel)
An outlaw named Hogan (Eastwood) saves Sister Sara (Shirley MacLaine) a nun from being raped by two men. She then asks Hogan to accompany her to a Mexican camp, where she’s to aid a group of Juarista revolutionaries fighting the French occupation. The two unlikely partners face several obstacles as they make their way across rough terrain filled with scavengers and Indians. An Odd Couple themed Western adventure peppered with sexual tension and humor. Featuring an excellent, twangy score by Ennio Morricone which recalls his earlier work on the Leone films.
A comical, action packed World War II caper/Men on A Mission movie in which a squad of American soldiers led by Kelly (Clint Eastwood) take a detour from their official duties fighting the Nazis to seek out a cache of gold bars being held behind enemy lines. Featuring an excellent supporting cast including Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland and Carroll O’Connor.
Where Eagles Dare (1968, Dir: Brian Hutton)
Clint and Richard Burton co-star in this WWII Men on A Mission classic about two commandos that go undercover to rescue an American officer being held by Nazis in a fortress high in the Bavarian Alps. Co-starring Patrick Wymark, Mary Ure, Robert Beatty.
Escape From Alcatraz (1979, Dir: Don Siegel)
Based on true events, Clint stars as Frank Morris, a prisoner on Alcatraz Island who decides to plan an escape with the help of a few fellow inmates. Meanwhile he must endure the cruelty of the sadistic warden (Patrick McGoohan) and unwanted attention from a big brute. Co-starring Fred Ward, Paul Benjamin.
During The Civil War, a band of renegade Union soldiers known as “Red Legs” attack the peaceful homestead of a Southern farmer named Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood). Following the burial of his wife and son, Josey vows to get revenge on the men responsible while he fights for the Confederacy. After the war ends, Josey becomes the last hold out, refusing to give himself into the new US government. On the run, he finds a new family in some misfit travelers while evading the Union soldiers who are ordered to bring him in. Co-starring Chief Dan George, Sonia Locke, Sam Bottoms, John Vernon, Bill McKinney.
Honkytonk Man (1982, Dir: Clint Eastwood)
A country singer named Red Stovall (Eastwood) hits the road with his nephew (Kyle Eastwood) and a young runaway (Alexa Kenin) and heads for Memphis Tennessee hoping to get showcased at the Grand Ole Opry. Red has got plenty of talent but his declining health due to a bad case of tuberculosis begins to impede his dreams of being the next big sensation. A touching tale that showcased Clint’s love of music.
The Gauntlet (1977, Dir: Clint Eastwood)
An alcoholic cop, Ben Shockley (Eastwood) from Phoenix Arizona is ordered to bring prostitute Gus Mally (Sondra Locke) to Las Vegas so she can testify against the mob in a trial. On the way, Shockley and his rambunctious prisoner come under attack from a variety of outside forces trying to stop them. Co-starring Pat Hingle, Bill McKinney.
Unforgiven (1992, Dir: Clint Eastwood)
An infamous retired gunslinging killer named William Munny (Eastwood) in need of funds to keep his farm going, joins The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) and an old friend Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) to collect a reward placed on two cowboys. Will’s choice to take part in the bounty hunt sets off a series of events that bring back his repressed murderous side. This Academy Award winning masterpiece by Clint was a demystification of the earlier macho movies he made in the Western genre, showing the raw, brutal reality of killing. Co-starring Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, Frances Fisher.
During the Civil War, a Union officer John McBirney (Clint Eastwood) is wounded and taken in by a southern woman (Geraldine Page) that runs an all girls school. As McBirney recuperates, he begins getting closer to several of the women who fall for his charms. McBirney’s wreckless flirtations and trists soon stirs up something he didn’t expect. A suspenseful thriller where Clint has the tables turned on him by the opposite sex. Co-starring Elizabeth Hartman, Mae Mercer.
Gran Torino (2008, Dir: Clint Eastwood)
Aging Korean war veteran/widower Walt Kowalski (Eastwood) must overcome his prejudices when a Korean family moves in next door. One night, Walt’s new teenage neighbor Thao (Bee Vang), tries to steal his cherished Gran Torino muscle car as a gang initiation but is caught. Thao, who Walt nicknames “Toad”, is ordered to help do yard work and other chores as payback. Meanwhile, Thao’s cousin, a gangbanger and bully terrorizes him for turning his back on the group. This leads to a series of dangerous confrontations with Walt stuck in the middle. One of Clint’s most emotionally resonant works that showed yet another side of his tough guy movie persona.
Joe Kidd (1972, Dir: John Sturges)
An ex-bounty hunter Joe Kidd (Clint Eastwood) is asked by wealthy rancher Frank Harlan (Robert Duvall) to join a party out to get Luis Chama (John Saxon) a Mexican revolutionary leading a revolt against farmers who are kicking the native residents off their land. Kidd agrees to ride with Harlan but later finds himself morally conflicted during the hunt. Co-starring Don Stroud, Paul Koslo, Dick Van Patten.
Magnum Force (1973, Dir: Ted Post)
In this exceptional follow up to Dirty Harry, Harry (Eastwood) finds himself in the middle of a deadly conflict when a group of young cops decide to take the law into their own hands and become vigilantes on the streets of San Francisco. Screenplay written by John Milius and Michael Cimino. Co-starring David Soul, Tim Matheson.
A professional bank robber known as “The Thunderbolt” (Eastwood) on the run from his ex-partners, befriends a young drifter Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges) and the two work together to plan a new robbery. A superbly directed, rollicking buddy/road/crime movie. Co-starring George Kennedy, Geoffrey Lewis, Gary Busey.
Heartbreak Ridge (1986, Dir: Clint Eastwood)
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tom Highway (Eastwood) a jarheaded hero is on the verge of retirement from duty. After managing to be transferred back to his former unit, he comes under the wrath of a brash young officer (Everett McGill) who sees him as a relic of a time long forgotten. Highway’s new platoon are a rowdy bunch of slackers with no discipline. Gunny soon lays down the law and retrains the clowns, turning them into true badass soldiers. He also tries to regain lost love with his bitter, estranged ex-wife Aggie (Marsha Mason). Co-starring Mario Van Peebles, Bo Svenson.