Happy 89th Birthday CLINT EASTWOOD! Here Are His Ten Best Films

Article by Jim Batts, Dana Jung, and Tom Stockman

Happy Birthday to one in every of We Are Movie Geeks favorite stars. Clint Eastwood was born on today in 1930, making him 89 years previous in the present day. The actor and two-time Oscar profitable director hasn’t let his age sluggish him down a bit.

We posted an inventory in 2011 of his ten greatest directorial efforts HERE

Clint Eastwood has appeared in 68 movies in his six (!) many years as an actor, and here, based on We Are Film Geeks, are his ten greatest:

Honorable Mention: HONKYTONK MAN

By the 1980s, Clint Eastwood was one among Hollywood’s most bankable stars.  Together with his personal manufacturing firm, directorial expertise, and financial clout, Eastwood was capable of make smaller, extra private films.  An ideal example is the underrated HONKYTONK MAN, which additionally happens to be certainly one of Eastwood’s best performances.

Drawing upon Eastwood’s love of each music and interval history, MAN tells the story of Pink Stovall, a consumptive however hard-living country singer, set sometime in the course of the Melancholy.  While on his strategy to Nashville for a shot at the Grand Ole Opry, Pink stops to collect his nephew Hoss (charmingly played by Eastwood’s son, Kyle) from his sister’s farm in the Oklahoma dust bowl.  Additionally tagging alongside is Hoss’s grandfather (John McIntire), who needs to return to his family homestead in Tennessee.  From that setup, the movie is actually a street trip filled with adventures—each comic and tragic—that may have an effect on Hoss ceaselessly. This pretty simple story is advised with great affection by Eastwood the director.  The period detail and setpieces are fantastic, with Eastwood again displaying a eager eye for both comedian timing and character-driven drama.  He even throws in some suspense, as as soon as again Eastwood the actor wields a gun—however this time with humorous results.  And a visitors stop which begins with some pressure ends with an extended punchline.  Eastwood also handles his actors with ease, drawing first-class performances from a gaggle of great character actors, together with Eastwood “regulars” Verna Bloom (HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER) and Matt Clark (JOSEY WALES), plus Barry Corbin, Tim Thomerson, and Gary Grubbs.  As grandpa, the veteran McIntire was by no means higher; the scene the place he recollects the Land Rush of 1893 is just good.  Additionally giving a incredible performance was Alexa Kenin as Marlene, a younger stowaway on the street journey who supplies much comedian aid.  A well-known face on 1970s TV, Kenin was a rising younger supporting actress (PRETTY IN PINK) who was found lifeless in her condo a number of years later at age 23.  Her explanation for demise has never been disclosed. MAN can also be peppered with a number of the brightest stars of country music.  Ray Worth, Shelly West, David Frizzell, and Porter Wagoner all make temporary appearances, and Marty Robbins, who died a short time after filming, had a Prime 10 nation hit together with his rendition of the title music.  Along with the nation music which fills the soundtrack, there’s a healthy shot of blues in the type of Linda Hopkins.  Eastwood does all his own singing for the film, and has a pleasing sufficient voice to make his efficiency solely believable.  Relaxed and humorous, Eastwood appears right at residence with the interval dialogue, corresponding to “my raw-boned Okie girl,” and “double damn tarnation!”  Whether or not he’s on stage singing, or educating his nephew the methods of the world, or stealing chickens (!), Eastwood dominates the movie and exhibits simply what an amazing display presence he is—typically tough, typically delicate, however all the time likable.


Reality: Alcatraz is an impenetrable island fortress. Reality: No one has ever escaped from Alcatraz. Reality: Clint Eastwood doesn’t care a lot for information! In ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ Eastwood gave one in every of his greatest display performances; distinctive, persuasive, and powerful. We know little or no of his Frank Morris besides that he has escaped from prisons earlier than and has been despatched to Alcatraz as a result of no one gets off the Rock. Eastwood’s fifth and remaining movie with director Don Siegel has aged properly, with no sentiment or melodrama to get in the best way of the small print of the escape. ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ doesn’t proceed on the break-neck tempo of your typical motion film. Siegel follows the breakout plan with meticulous detail. Even when Morris and his two comrades manage to get out of their cells, the story doesn’t give attention to the suspense of the chase between escapees and guards. In reality, the jail officers are usually not seen until the invention on Angel Island, and at that time, the prisoners are never seen again. As an alternative, the battle is between males and the bodily area they have to overcome. It’s much less about avoiding guards and extra to do with navigating heights and depths and limitations. The jail itself, quite than those that oversee it, becomes the antagonist. When Eastwood gained his first directing Oscar, he thanked Siegel (and Sergio Leone) and when watching ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ, a masterful piece of storytelling during which the characters say little, letting the digital camera explain the motion. the older director’s affect is clear.


As Clint Eastwood’s film profession neared the fifty yr mark, his characters eased into previous age, slowed down bodily, and have been haunted by their ghosts of the past. That is undoubtedly the case with Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan in Wolfgang Peterson’s IN THE LINE OF FIRE. Frank’s nonetheless on the job, and he sweats and wheezes as he joins the much youthful agent s in operating alongside the presidential limo. Apart from his shortened stamina, he’s haunted by that Fall day in Dallas over thirty years in the past, when he couldn’t defend the young Commander-in-Chief in time. As Frank puts it, ” If I had taken that bullet, it might’ve been alright with me”. Unfortunately a deranged assassin performed with gusto by John Malkovich knows of Frank’s previous and taunts him ( ” I see you standing over the grave of one other president’ ) in several encounters. Eastwood’s registers Frank’s every emotion ( shock, disgust, worry while making an attempt to keep him on the road long enough for a hint ) during several telephone conversations with the threatening gunman. In addition to these scenes with Malkovich, Eastwood exhibits a special aspect with two of the other young actors in the movie. With the novice agent played by Dylan McDermott, Eastwood’s a instructor, mentor, and father figure, while with Rene Russo’s Lilly Raines, he attempts a mild, hesitant friendship that becomes a tender romance. Peterson has crafted a gripping, edge-of-your-seat action thriller anchored by one in every of Eastwood’s greatest, mature, weak performances.


THE BEGUILED was a gothic tale of deception and horror from 1971 set within the time of the Civil Conflict. Clint Eastwood played John McBurney, a wounded Union soldier who takes refuge in a Southern faculty for girls whom he should maintain beguiled or danger being turned over to the Confederates. Directed by Don Siegel, this gothic horror story ends with the captive paying dearly for his ingratitude in the direction of his captors’ sick brand of Southern hospitality. In addition to the implied sexual state of affairs, there’s an specific seduction adopted by a ugly amputation scene. Siegel (whose DIRTY HARRY would open a couple of months after this box-office failure) not only paces THE BEGUILED with a strong mixture of sexual rigidity, eroticism and black humor, he matches the female forged perfectly to their roles – from Geraldine Web page’s craving spinster (with a very dirty secret), to Elizabeth Hartman’s naive nineteen-year-old with chaste romantic fantasies, to Jo Ann Harris’s seductive teen slut. The characters Eastwood played in his profession survived Nazis, lynchings, assassins, and gangsters but John McBurney by no means stood a chance in a home filled with scorned ladies.


One of many headstones in a graveyard in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER bears the identify Sergio Leone as tribute as the first western that Clint Eastwood directed exudes the legendary aura of lots of Leone’s style choices. Principally reprising his “Man With No Name” persona from the Leone trilogy, Eastwood took the usual Western revenge story to new levels. In HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER Eastwood is “The Stranger” who wanders into the small mining town of Lago to merely have a couple of drinks, a quick shave, and tub. Earlier than lengthy, he’s killed three dangerous guys, raped the town tramp, pressured the city to rename itself ‘Hell’ and has actually painted it purple. And he’s the hero! Virtually all of the characters in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER are repellant and unlikeable particularly the cowardly townsfolk who stood by idly and watched as three gunmen bullwhipped their sheriff to demise. No marvel John Wayne, after seeing HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, wrote an indignant letter of protest to Eastwood complaining concerning the destructive depiction of Wayne’s beloved “spirit of the West”. Too dangerous Duke, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER is likely one of the greats!


For a fella that’s gone most people’ retirement age, Clint Eastwood is filled with surprises. And great performances. In 2004’s MILLION DOLLAR BABY, which he additionally produced, directed, and scored, Eastwood is grizzled previous boxing medic Frankie Dunn. Like lots of his later characters Dunn is haunted by the past. However it’s not simply the reminiscences of massive fights and title bouts, it’s his estrangement from his daughter. In his golden years his solely family is another former boxer Eddie ‘ Scrap-Iron’ Dupris performed by Morgan Freeman who helps in operating Dunn ‘s seen-better-days training gym. Just as in  UNFORGIVEN the two actors have a great relaxed rapport as they wax nostalgic about the good ole’ days ( correcting one another’s recollections ) and disparage the shortage of class and grit in the new youngsters. After which Hilary Swank’s Maggie enters their lives. We see Eastwood act casually dismissive of the ” woman ” boxer, but he progressively responds to her spirit. Reluctantly he turns into her stern trainer and slowly becomes a surrogate father to Maggie. In one terrific sequence Maggie’s grasping, ” trashy”, family members berate and bully them. The Eastwood of a couple of many years in the past would’ve put that younger ‘mouth-y’ punk by means of a wall, but the older, wiser man knows this thug isn’t well worth the effort or abbreviation. He’s value no more than a hard, disgusted stare. Within the film’s heartbreaking last scenes we get to see a young, loving Eastwood that he’s not often proven on display. The ultimate encounter between Frankie and Maggie might have probably the most macho movie fan reaching for his hankie. Although Eastwood earned no appearing gold , his co-stars Freeman and Swank both earned Oscars. It’s quite a testament to Eastwood’s appearing ( and directing ) expertise – he’s so good he pushes his fellow thespians do their greatest work.

In 2008, Clint Eastwood made GRAN TORINO, both as a director and as an actor, but Eastwood himself pronounced this might be the last time he stars in one in every of his films. Whether or not that holds true is but to be seen, given rumors about his subsequent movie TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE. What was, perhaps painfully clear nevertheless, is that Eastwood is not a spring hen. Very similar to his character in the film, Walt Kowalski is an getting old and stubborn man, set in his methods. Stroll units out to teach a teenage neighbor a factor or two after he attempts to steal Walt’s satisfaction and pleasure, a candy 1972 Gran Torino muscle automotive. The strain arises as Walt, a Korean Warfare veteran, builds an unlikely friendship with the boy of Hmong ethnicity, each of whom stay in a crumbling urban neighborhood. Walt sees the world around him falling aside in his eyes, however ultimately comes to terms together with his personal prejudice by means of his actions in the teenage boy’s benefit. Eastwood plays the crotchety curmudgeon with a pure ease, drawing a bit from Soiled Harry’s own sense of allure and manners. It’s great to see Eastwood increasing his storytelling craft into extra significant films, while additionally embracing his age as an actor in a much less flattering position, giving the film a stronger resonance.


“You’ve got to ask yourself a question: ‘do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?” Clint Eastwood muttered his most famous line in DIRTY HARRY, starring as Harry Callahan, the hard-working San Francisco cop who can’t end his lunch without having to cease a bank theft together with his 44 Magnum (“the most powerful handgun in the world”). Harry should take the regulation into his personal palms when a psychotic killer is launched on a technicality and the cat and mouse play between Harry and the killer ‘Scorpio’ is taut, suspenseful and horrifying but critics in 1971 attacked the film for evading the complicated authorized issues and ethical issues of vigilante justice. Clint’s cynical superhero is principally irresponsible in endangering the lives of harmless individuals in his personal campaign towards criminals but that just made Harry more endearing to most audiences and the film was a smash success, spawning four (wonderful) sequels. Director Don Siegel retains the action tightly-wound and fast-paced and Andy Robinson is among the most vicious, warped, and sophisticated villains in cinema. Because of Callahan’s fascist nature, John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, and Paul Newman all reportedly turned down the half. Eastwood stepped in to the position and when he’s twisting Scorpio’s damaged arm (“I have a right to a lawyer!” Scorpio whines), he smiles just a bit and we behold the right match between actor and character.


In 1976, the nation’s Bicentennial acquired a special present with the release of THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, arguably Clint Eastwood’s greatest Western movie, and the most effective Westerns ever made.  There’s a lot about JOSEY WALES that is exceptional, compelling, and downright entertaining, that I reckon we’ll begin with the making of the movie.  Based mostly on a novel by Forrest Carter, the movie follows the books’ combination of vengeance tale, travelogue, buddy story, Previous West folklore, and reasonable Native American characters, with a sprinkling of precise historic figures, comparable to the good Comanche chief Ten Bears.  (The writer himself is a captivating story, as he was initially a segregationist speechwriter named Asa Carter, who labored for George Wallace and even ran for public office earlier than reinventing himself as an award-winning writer sympathetic to Native American causes.  For years, “Forrest” denied that he was Asa Carter and even tried to offer the impression that he was Native American.) The film’s production can also be a grand story of Hollywood lore.  Initially, Phil Kaufman (RIGHT STUFF) was hired to direct the movie with Eastwood and his company producing.  Kaufman labored on the pre-production and casting, rewrote the script, and commenced principal cinematography.  Nevertheless, less than a month into capturing, Kaufman was unceremoniously fired from the production, and Eastwood took over as director and completed the film.  The Director’s Guild turned concerned and created a new rule that prohibits anyone working on a film to switch a director fired from the same film.  This rule (unofficially referred to as the “Eastwood rule”) continues to be in impact at the moment.  In accordance with legend, Kaufman was fired because each he and Eastwood have been smitten with a reasonably younger actress in the movie named Sondra Locke.  The truth is, Locke and Eastwood turned a couple afterwards and labored together on five extra films earlier than their relationship crashed and burned in a stormy public breakup 10 years later.  Nevertheless, a more doubtless purpose for the firing was Kaufman’s detail-oriented fashion using multiple takes.  An economy-minded Eastwood supposedly had his fill when Kaufman drove miles again to city from an isolated set to accumulate a small prop he needed to include in a scene. Whatever its origins, JOSEY WALES has develop into a modern basic.  One of many few Western movies to be included within the National Historic Registry, the film succeeds on all levels.   JOSEY WALES begins as a post-Civil Conflict revenge tale, however this plotline is soon kind of resolved in what’s the first of many amazingly filmed gun battles.  The story then becomes a street film, with Wales on the run from the evil bluecoats.  It’s fascinating to note that in almost each different movie remedy of the Missouri/Kansas border wars, the pro-Union Kansas abolitionists are portrayed as the great guys, while the Missouri rebels are the dangerous guys.  JOSEY WALES neatly flips this mannequin so that we instantly sympathize with the outlaw.  Throughout his flight to safety within the Indian Nations, Wales collects a ragtag group of residents (a Native American man and lady, two Kansas ladies, a Mexican, and so forth.) who seem prepared to forgive whatever crimes are in his past and comply with him.  It also doesn’t harm that Wales is mighty useful with a pistol, and has saved lots of their lives. The movie is constructed as a collection of misadventures, and Eastwood the director exhibits an distinctive flair for character-driven comedy, and for staging a number of the coolest gunfights ever to hit the silver display.  Eastwood the actor provides certainly one of his greatest performances as Josey Wales, a man who has misplaced every little thing but finds he isn’t alone.  Because the movie progresses, we see the brittle hardness of the outlaw soften into a person with hope for a future.  The supporting roles are uniformly wonderful as nicely.  John Vernon (POINT BLANK, ANIMAL HOUSE) is the turncoat who involves sympathize with Wales.  Bill McKinney (DELIVERANCE) is the obsessed evil bluecoat chief.  Sam Bottoms, Woodrow Parfrey, Sheb Wooley, and Royal Dano are all great character actors who’re marvelous right here.  Locke is just fantastic in her scenes and brings a sweet notice of innocence to the film.  But particular mention must go to Chief Dan George (LITTLE BIG MAN), the good Native American actor as Wales’ first new good friend, Lone Watie.  Half Scarecrow of Oz, part spokesman for the Native American plight, and half action hero, George steals each scene he is in. And the basic dialogue- much of it lifted proper from the novel –is just unforgettable:   “Dyin’ ain’t much of a living.”  “Hell is coming to breakfast.”  “Endeavour to persevere!”   Most necessary of all, the movie has an enormous, bold coronary heart as Eastwood unabashedly exhibits each his love for this era of American historical past and his love of movie, by no means shying away from softer moments, corresponding to with Locke, or from the violence of the frontier which might occur at any moment.  Within the meeting with Ten Bears, the thematic climax of the movie, these parts mix superbly in a brilliantly executed scene that accommodates the fantastic “There is iron in your words of death” speech delivered by actor Will Sampson.  The struggles of the fashionable world will not be life or demise, however we as moviegoers and People can definitely relate to stories of friendship, adversity, and on a regular basis human truths.


In 1964, Clint Eastwood accepted the lead position in a Western being filmed in Spain titled “The Magnificent Stranger.”  The part had been provided to lots of Hollywood’s most rugged actors, together with Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, and Charles Bronson.  Eastwood, on break from his TV collection RAWHIDE and in search of a film challenge, immediately recognized the story as a remake of Kurosawa’s YOJIMBO.   When the film was finally released in the US, the title had changed to A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, and each a star and a brand new style, the “spaghetti Western,” have been born. The “Man With No Name” collection of Westerns directed by Sergio Leone and starring Eastwood got here to a spectacular conclusion with THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY.   Set amid the turmoil of the Civil Conflict, the story follows three men (hence the title) on a quest for gold treasure.   Leone directs together with his ordinary dramatic aptitude, filling the display with landscapes, gunfights, closeups of dangerous men, treks via the desert, prison camps, Civil Warfare battles, and an incredibly suspenseful and satisfying conclusion.  With cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli, who would later shoot films for some of Europe’s biggest directors (Louis Malle, Roman Polanski, Lina Wertmuller, and so on.) and composer Ennio Morricone (who topped his previous two No Identify Westerns with one of the great film scores of all time here), Leone created what some critics regard as his masterpiece.  Yes, even better than ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Eastwood’s “No Name” character fills the great position of the title, whereas great character actors Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach are the dangerous and the ugly.  Van Cleef, the co-hero of Leone’s and Eastwood’s earlier Western FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, right here completely personifies evil.  Ruthless and calculating, together with his “devil eyes,” Van Cleef is a superb display villain.  Wallach provides the efficiency of his career as Tuco, the ugly.  Whether or not he’s faced with demise on the hangman’s noose, or confronting his Catholic heritage, or making an attempt to revive his “friend,” the marvelous Wallach all the time makes Tuco sympathetic and likable—so much so that you simply’re alarmed when Eastwood’s character is imply to him. Eastwood has joked that the small cigarillos he had to smoke stored him in character as The Man With No Identify because (a) he’s a non-smoker, and (b) they tasted actually, actually dangerous.  In his last Leone Western, Eastwood exhibits the identical laconic squint that made him so well-known.  However he also exhibits a little bit of the same compassion we solely glimpsed in the previous No Identify Westerns, here in his relationship with Tuco, and in smaller moments, similar to witnessing the carnage left after warfare.  In its last photographs of Eastwood driving off into the sunset, rich and invincible, THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY capped an unimaginable trilogy within the annals of film mythology.


Within the 1960’s Clint Eastwood broke free of his television work and helped redefine the movie Western ( together with movie maker Sergio Leone ). Almost thirty years later Eastwood determined to close the door on his work in the ‘oaters’ with the character of William Munny in UNFORGIVEN. While most of his Westerners have been anti-heroes or rebels, Munny is a full-fledged outlaw who’s tried to vary his ways. You possibly can see the toll this life has taken on Munny’s face : exhausted by his failure at farming through the day and from sleepless nights haunted by the ghosts of his victims of his lawless years. Eastwood has nice rapport together with his co-stars. Morgan Freeman shares the trail ( and felony reminiscences ) through the journey to avenge the “working” women. The 2 previous saddletramps are virtually an aged married couple who calls out the opposite on their B.S. with out hesitation. Eastwood turns into the instructor/ mentor with Jaimz Woolvett as the full-of-bravado ‘ Schofield Kid’. After a bloody shoot-out they trade the movie’s greatest strains. The visibly shaken Child : ” Yeah, properly, I assume that they had it coming.” The weary Munny replies, ” We all obtained it coming, kid “. And then there’s the scenes with the town Sheriff, ” Little” Bill Daggett expertly played by Gene Hackman ( earning a well-deserved Oscar ). After Invoice exhibits his true colours, Eastwood releases his internal beast from his youthful violent days in a memorably brutal, bloody climax. His ” Man with no Identify” may be his most famous Western character, however Willian Munny makes for an exceptional last act for Eastwood’s work in this genre.

Clint Eastwood has made so many great movies and runner-ups for this listing would have to embrace A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, BRONCO BILLY, TIGHTROPE, and WHERE EAGLES DARE.  Happy Birthday Clint!