Clinton “Clint” Eastwood is an actor, film director, producer, musician and politician. He is a pioneer figure in American cinema. He first became an important figure in western movies. Later on he proved that he could also be a good director. As a talented actor and director, Eastwood did many important Hollywood movies till this day. Clint Eastwood was born in 1930 and today he is one of the most respected figures of Hollywood.
Eastwood began his career with small parts in movies in early 50s. His first role was a small un-credited role in 1955 sci-fi movie Revenge Of The Creature. Then he had another small part in Tarantula (1955). He continued to take small parts till he had played the leading role in legendary Sergio Leone movies. Clint Eastwood played the “man with no name” in Sergio Leone’s Dollers trilogy.
First of the movies was A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) and he immediately rose to international fame. Spaghetti Westerns were the hit and favorite movies of the time and Leone was a great director of the genre. After A Fistful Of Dollars, Leone shot other two movies of the trilogy; For A Few Dollars More (1965) and the most famous one of the trilogy The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966). With Dollars trilogy, Eastwood got great fame all around the world. Children began to play “Eastwood-ing” in streets and youngesters filled the theaters to see Eastwood movies over and over again. Although spaghetti westerns were B-movies, Dollars trilogy grossed a great deal at box office. After Dollars trilogy king of western played a dirty cop. This time he was an “antihero” cop. As Harry Callahan Eastwood became the legend of another decade as well. He was the “man with no name” of 60s and he was the “Dirty Harry” of 70s. He shot 5 Dirty Harry movies, which were very popular in 70s and 80s as well. Thus Clint Eastwood became a true and legendary figure of American cinema and a cultural icon of masculinity.
Eastwood is a total cinema person. He both acted and directed movies. His first important directing experience was Play Misty For Me (1971). It was a dark thriller and thrillers were so popular in 70s. But Play Misty For Me was a revolutionary movie, because first in American cinema history, the “psycho” of the movie was a woman. The movie was a total surprise for the critics and they totally loved it. Eastwood also directed fine pieces such as High Plains Drifter (1973), Breezy (1973), Sudden Impact (1983), Firefox (1982), Pale Rider (1985), White Hunter Black Heart (1990), The Unforgiven (1992), A Perfect World (1993), The Bridges Of Madison County (1995), Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil (1997), Absolute Power (1997), True Crime (1999), Blood Work (2002), Mystic River (2003), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Flags Of Our Fathers (2006), Letters From Iwo Jima (2006), Gran Torino (2008), Invictus (2009), Jersey Boys (2014) and American Sniper (2014).
Clint Eastwood won Academy Awards for Best Director and Producer of the Best Picture by his movies Unforgiven (1992) and sports drama movie Million Dollar Baby (2004). In those movies he was also nominated for best actor Oscar.
Up to this day Eastwood directed 37 movies and played in 67. Among them, there are many blockbusters of its time and many favorite or cult movies. Dollars trilogy and Dirty Harry movies are among the cult movies Clint Eastwood played. There are also other cult movies he played like Hang ‘Em High (1968), Escape From Alcatraz (1979), Branco Billy (1980), High Plains Drifter (1973), Play Misty For Me (1971) and In the Line of Fire (1993).
In most of the movies Eastwood directed, he also appears as an actor in them. But there are also movies in which he doesn’t appear such as the mystery drama Mystic River (2003) and the war drama Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) and the drama Changeling (2008). The war drama American Sniper (2014) set box office records for the biggest January release ever. American Sniper was also the biggest opening ever for an Eastwood film.
Along with Oscars he got, Eastwood also recieved many other international awards. He step by step became a well respected figure in cinema history. Today he is accepted as one of the legendary movie persons of history.
Clinton Eastwood was born in San Francisco, California. He was named after his father Clinton Eastwood Sr, who was a migrant steelworker. Eastwood has English, Irish, Scottish, and Dutch ancestry. Although he was raised in a working class neighbourhood, his family used to move a lot since his father worked different sites along the West Coast. While he attended Oakland Technical High School, his drama teachers encouraged him to take part in school plays. At first Eastwood was not interested in acting. He worked a bunch of works other than acting such as grocery clerk and life guard. Eastwood also got into the army and was sent to Korea to fight in the Korean War. But in mid 50s, everything changed for him.
In mid 50s, Eastwood began to take small parts in movies such as Revenge Of The Creature (1955) and Tarantula (1955). Over the next three years, he had uncredited small parts in several other films such as Lady Godiva of Coventry, Never Say Goodbye and Escapade in Japan, and also a small speaking role in Francis in the Navy. However first important role of him was in CBS tv-series Rawhide (1959-1965). In this western themed tv-series, Eastwood played “Rowdy Yates” for 216 episodes, although he was not happy with that role at first. However this series was the real reason he later became a leading figure in western cinema. Because the series was a total success. Critics and the audience loved the series.
Later on it was stated that The Rawhide years were some of the most grueling years of Eastwood’s career. He often used to film for 6 days a week at an average of 12 hours a day. But back then “hard work” had some other meanings, because some directors still criticized him for not working hard enough. By 1963, show’s popularity began to decline. Back then Eastwood wanted to direct an episode but the producers of the show didn’t agree with him. So he was able to shoot some trailers of the show instead shooting a whole episode. However that changed his path of career. He decided to get into cinema. He filmed his legendary cult character in the movie of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful Dollars (1964), which truely changed his life.
EASTWOOD IN 60s, 70s AND 80s
60s, 70s and 80s were the decades in which Clint Eastwood was so very popular as a western actor and also the imfamous cop “Dirty Harry”. And all began with A Fistful Of Dollars. The role of “the man with no name” was first offered to Eric Fleming, Eastwood’s co-star in Rawhide series. But he refused the role. What Eric Fleming rejected did Eastwood an international star. Back in 1963, Eastwood was not happy with his role in Rawhide and he seeked an escape. He didn’t liked his character because it was so very unreal. Later on he stated in an interview that “in Rawhide I played a hero who kisses old ladies and dogs and was kind to everybody. So I decided that it was now time to be an anti-hero”. So the spaghetti western which was going to shoot in Spain was a great idea.
A Fistful of Dollars was a total revolutionary movie which proved that low budget spaghetti westerns could be as nice as high budget Hollywood movies. In the movie, Leone created a more lawless and remote world in which he challenged the American western movie stereotypes. Back in early 60s, the concept of “anti-hero” was totally new for American cinema. Because Hays Code was still in charge of everything in cinema industry. However the film’s success was inevitable and it made Eastwood a major star in Italy and all along in Europe, where the movie was released. So he was able to be in other 2 movies of the trilogy; For A Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966). Today the third of the trilogy The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966) is accepted as one of the most influential movies ever made. However back then although the audience loved the trilogy, the critics didn’t. All three films received bad reviews, and became the beginning of a battle for Eastwood to win American film critics’ respect, which resulted him to make some of the finest movies of the time.
After an unseccessful part in La Streghe (1967), Eastwood played in Ted Post‘s cult-classic western movie Hang ‘Em High (1968). It was a revisionist western movie, which was shot just one year later the Hays Code lost the battle. Today Hang ‘Em High is accepted among the most important early examples of “American New Wave”. In the movie Eastwood played alongside Inger Stevens, Dennis Hopper, Pat Hingle, Ed Begley and James MacArthur. The movie focused on the term of justice back in the “western times” and gave a true panaroma of being a marshal back in those dangerous times. Hang ‘Em High is also the first movie that Eastwood’s production company Malpaso Productions ever producted. The movie was a total success. It was praised by the critics and it grossed a great many at box office.
In 1968 Eastwood played in Don Siegel movie Coogan’s Bluff and in some war dramas such as Where Eagles Dare. In 1970, Eastwood starred with Shirley MacLaine in the western Two Mules for Sister Sara, directed by Don Siegel. Eastwood played a mysterious stranger again who happened to be cigar smoking man.
Eastwood’s career reached a turning point in 1971. In 1971 Eastwood released the year’s one of the hits, Play Misty For Me. It was a movie that gave Eastwood the artistic praise he desired since the beginning of his career. It was also the first movie he ever directed. Till that day, nobody created a female “pyscho” in an American movie. It was risky, but it worthed the try. The movie was about a jazz dj named Dave (Eastwood). Dave had an affair with Evelyn (Jessica Walter), a listener. But then she began to call the radio station repeatedly at night, and asked him to play her favorite song — Erroll Garner’s “Misty”. The movie was highly acclaimed with critics.
Clint Eastwood became a star in 60s, but his golden age was without a doubt 70s and 80s. After Play Misty For Me, Eastwood played one of his most iconic characters ever, Dirty Harry.
Dirty Harry (1971) was an action movie written by Harry and Rita Fink. The movie told the story of a New York cop, who did not hesitate to do what needed to be done in the name of justice. Dirty Harry is one of the most iconic cop characters of the cinema history. Police inspector Harry Callahan became so famous that they had to make 4 more Dirty Harry movies. After Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood played in 4 more Harry movies; Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983) and The Dead Pool (1986).
Today Dirty Harry has been described as Eastwood’s most memorable character. And the movie also created its own sub-genre as “dirty cop movies”. Dirty Harry achieved a great success after its release. The movie grossed $22 million in the US and Canada alone. It was Siegel’s highest-grossing movie.
After Sean Connery announced that he wouldn’t be playing James Bond again, producers asked Eastwood the role. But he turned it down because he stated that James Bond should be played by an English actor.
Among Eastwood’s some other 70s movies there are Joe Kidd (1972), High Plains Drifter (1973) which was directed by Eastwood himself, Breezy (1973) which was also directed by Eastwood, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), The Eiger Sanction (1975) which was directed by Eastwood, The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) which was directed by Eastwood, The Gauntlet (1977) which was directed by Eastwood, Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and one of his legendary movies Escape From Alcatraz (1979).
In 1980s, Eastwood already became an important and respected figure of American cinema. He had already played and directed many hit and best movies. After 2 decades of working, he had achieved what he always wished to achieve as an actor and a director. Therefore he shifted to politics, another passion for him. It wouldn’t be wrong to tell that 80s were a more slow decade for Eastwood. However he continued to play and direct movies.
He started the decade with Branco Billy (1980), a western comedy that was both played and directed by Eastwood. Bronco Billy as being one of the most relaxed shoots of his career. And it was a commercial disappointment in Eastwood’s career, although the critics loved the movie. Later that year, Eastwood starred in Any Which Way You Can, the sequel to Every Which Way But Loose.
In 1982, Eastwood directed and starred in Honkytonk Man. The movie was another Eastwood movie that recieved negative critical reactions. In 1982 Eastwood also directed, produced, and starred in the cold war-themed movie “Firefox”. Some of the movie was taking place in Soviet Russia and it was impossible to shoot any scenes in Soviet Union. So Eastwood shot some scenes in Vienna and other locations in Austria. The production cost was $20 million, which was Eastwood’s highest budget movie to date. It recieved mediocre reactions both from the critics and the audience. By the time Dirty Harry movies were also being shot and making Eastwood still one of the most famous actors of the time.
In 1984 Eastwood starred Richard Tuggle movie Tightrope (1984). ıt was another cop movie but a way different from Dirty Harry. Eastwood played a divorced cop who was slowly drawn into his target’s troubled psychology and his fascination for some psycho sado-masochism. Tightrope was a critical and commercial success and became the fourth highest-grossing R-rated film of 1984. Same year Eastwood also starred in the crime comedy City Heat (1984) with Burt Reynolds.
In 1985 Eastwood turned to his old friend genre western and directed Pale Rider (1985). It was based on the classic 1953 western “Shane” and tells the story of the miners during the California Gold Rush of 1850s. And Pale Rider became one of Eastwood’s most successful films to date.
In 1986, Eastwood co-starred with Marsha Mason in the military drama Heartbreak Ridge. The film was a commercial success rather than a critical one.
Eastwood directed Bird (1988), a biopic starring Forest Whitaker as jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker. Eastwood received two Golden Globes for the film. Eastwood starred in Pink Cadillac (1989), which did not recieved positive reactions. The movie failed both critically and commercially. However its name is still regocnized as a “successful” movie of Eastwood.
EASTWOOD IN 90s, 2000s AND 2010s
After 90s, but especially after 2000s, Eastwood became one of the most successful directors of his time. All the great actors and actresses wished to work with him. He began to shoot movies rather than playing them. He continued to act as well, but focused on his directing career and made some of his best movies ever.
Eastwood directed and starred in White Hunter Black Heart (1990), an adaptation of Peter Viertel’s roman. The movie was shot in Zimbabwe in the summer of 1989. Later in 1990, Eastwood directed and co-starred with Charlie Sheen in The Rookie. However 1992 Clint Eastwood movie The Unforgiven proved that Eastwood was already a true classical director with unique style.
It is stated that Eastwood wrote the movie back in 1976. But he waited until he was old enough to play his character. Unforgiven was a major commercial and critical success; it was a true classic immediately and a “game changer” which managed to change all the rules of western movies. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture and Best Director for Eastwood.
In 1993, Eastwood played in the Secret Service thriller In the Line of Fire (1993), which was directed by Wolfgang Petersen. The film was among the top 10 box office performers in that year. , again in 1993, he directed and co-starred with Kevin Costner in A Perfect World. He was applaused as a director once again.
At 1994 Cannes Film Festival, Eastwood received “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” medal. In 1995, he was awarded the “Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award” at the 67th Academy Awards. In 1995 Eastwood played with Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County (1995). The movie was also directed by Eastwood. The Bridges of Madison County was a commercial and critical success. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture and won a César Award for Best Foreign Film. Streep was also nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
In 1997, Eastwood directed and starred in the political thriller Absolute Power, alongside Gene Hackman. The movie received some mixed reactions. Same year Eastwood directed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), starring John Cusack, Kevin Spacey and Jude Law.
In 1999, Eastwood directed and starred one of his best movies, True Crime (1999). At first True Crime received mixed reactions but then it was praised by the critics. But the movie was a box office failure.
In 2000, Eastwood directed and starred in his western-themed sci-fi comedy Space Cowboys alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner. The movie recieved generally positive reactions and critics praised the movie. Space Cowboys grossed more than $90 million in US, more than Eastwood’s two previous films combined.
In 2002, Eastwood played and directed Blood Work (2002). It was a successful thriller however was a commercial failure. But one year later, Eastwood shot one of his bests, Mystic River (2003).
Eastwood directed and scored the crime drama Mystic River in 2003. A very complex movie that deals with themes like murder, vigilantism and sexual abuse. In the movie it stars Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins as three old friends. The movie was praised by critics and it also won two Academy Awards, Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Supporting Actor (Tim Robbins).
In 2004 Eastwood shot Million Dollar Baby (2004), which he gained great praise and positive critics. He himself played a trainer who tries to train a female boxer, Hilary Swank. For her role Swank won a Academy Award for best actress. And the movie was one of the best movies of the year as well as being a commercial success.
In 2006, Eastwood directed two films about World War II; Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. Both films received positive reactions from the critics and earned some nominations, including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay for Letters from Iwo Jima.
Eastwood then directed Changeling (2008), starring Angelina Jolie, which was based on a true story set in the late 1920s. Same year Eastwood also shot one of his favorite movies of all time, Gran Torino (2008). The movie grossed more than $30 million during its opening weekend. It was the highest of his career.
Eastwood’s 30th movie as a director was Invictus (2009). Morgan Freeman starring as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as rugby team captain, the movie generally got positive reviews. Eastwood was nominated for Best Director at the 67th Golden Globe Awards.
In 2010, Eastwood directed Hereafter, It stars Matt Damon as a psychic. Hereafter generally received mixed reviews. It was accepted as a sincere movie that fails to express its goal.
A year later Eastwood directed J. Edgar (2011), a biopic starring Leonardo Di Caprio, in which he played FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. J. Edgar is accepted as one of those movies in which Di Caprio could have won the Oscar but he didn’t.
In 2012 Eastwood appeared in Robert Lorenz movie Trouble with the Curve (2012), as a veteran baseball scout. In 2014 Eastwood directed 2 movies. First of them was Jersey Boys (2014), a musical biopic based on the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys. The movie recieved generally positive reactions but it was overshadowed by Eastwood’s other 2014 movie American Sniper (2014), which was a total success both critically and commercially. It is also the last movie of Clint Eastwood so far.