Celebrating Clint Eastwood

“The old dreams were good dreams.  They didn’t work out but I’m glad I had them.” (The Bridges of Madison County).

“The thing that haunts a man the most is what he isn’t ordered to do.” (Gran Torino).

Clint Eastwood’s 80th birthday and Memorial Day on the same day.  How many times does such a coinciding take place?  I wrote an article about Mr. Eastwood for FilmThreat.  Click here to see a screencap of it on the homepage.  I’m copying and pasting an excerpt below:

Comparing Clint Eastwood to his contemporaries, Jonathan Heaf astutely observes in the March 2010 issue of British GQ, “Paul Newman was always too smooth, Marlon Brando too pretty; Steve McQueen too much of a hothead,” but “there is a stylish nonchalance about Eastwood; he drives home fervour [sic] and conviction without so much as flickering a smouldering [sic] cheroot from one corner of his mouth to the other” (100). Robert Redford, if I may add, was too untroubled.

Eastwood was an infant in the 1930s, a young man during the late 40s, and an indisputable movie star by the 70s. Having worked as both actor and director for Warner Brothers for thirty-five years, Eastwood has collaborated with great talents such as Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Hal Holbrook, Blake Edwards, Burt Reynolds, Rip Torn, Madeline Kahn, Bernadette Peters, Raul Julia, Tom Skerritt, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Scott Glenn, Kevin Spacey, James Woods, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Laurence Fishburne, and Hilary Swank.

When I initially decided to write an article about Clint Eastwood in celebration of his 80th birthday, which also coincides with Memorial Day 2010, I had planned to incorporate biographical, historical, and thematic analyses of his body of work.  After seeing “The Bridges of Madison County,” (Eastwood, 1995), “Dirty Harry” (Don Siegel, 1971), “A Fistful of Dollars“(Sergio Leone, 1964) and “Gran Torino” (Eastwood, 2008), though, I realized that any attempt to illustrate with the written word the man’s brilliance and significance would not do him sufficient justice.  The proper and most satisfying way to appreciate his achievements is to watch his films.

Furthermore, the adage about being a man of few words fits Clint Eastwood’s onscreen presence. He doesn’t say much, but when he does, he is profound. My hope is that in sharing with you my impressions, instead of densely packed summaries and praises, your own budding (or continuing) acquaintanceship with Eastwood’s contributions to filmmaking will be more personal.

Read the rest of the article here.


Read more about Clint Eastwood here, here, here, and here.   Or, if you’d prefer something less “binding,” hop on over here.   While you’re at Senses of Cinema, take a moment to read Dean Brandum’s piece on Dennis Hopper.

11 thoughts on “Celebrating Clint Eastwood

  1. The Mark

    I wish more people had seen Gran Torino. It captured life in the suburbs of Detroit perfectly.

    My top three Eastwood films are Unforgiven, A Fistful of Dollars and Million Dollar Baby.

    I looked up Clint on imdb and I see he’s working on a J. Edgar Hoover film with DiCaprio as the CIA’s top man. Interesting.

      1. The Mark

        I didn’t realize it did so well. I just didn’t remember there being much buzz amongst people I know.

        I guess my friends don’t constitute a good enough sample of how well a film is received. I should’ve realized that when a few of my friends thought Jackass was an awesome movie.

        1. sittingpugs Post author

          A person’s taste in movies can run the gamut of low to high art. I love Tommy Boy and Yojimbo equally. Jeff Daniels sitting on a toilet in Dumb & Dumber makes me laugh as much as The Marx Brothers trying to play football in Horse Feathers.

          Do your friends brush twice a day? Floss at least once? Wash their hands every time they’ve gone to the loo? That could be the real gauge.

          1. The Mark

            What a juxtaposition, Tommy Boy and Yojimbo.

            The English Patient is my favorite movie but given the choice between that and A Night at the Roxbury, Count Almasy might have to wait.

  2. sittingpugs Post author

    Wow…ming didn’t like An English Patient. I love Kristin Scott Thomas, but it bored ming to tears. Hmmm, I may need to watch it again.

    Swingers, gotta love Swingers. Heathers. Reality Bites, Empire Records, The Last Boy Scout.

    Coming to America.

  3. Jeremy

    Two of Clint Eastwood’s most powerful characters, Dirty Harry Callahan and The Man With No Name, got their power I think because they were American male archetypes.

    They were very similar – the taciturn man, invincible, working by his own rules, who fights evil and defeats it.

    Each would belong in the pantheon of Joseph Campbell’s heroes with a thousand faces.

    1. sittingpugs Post author

      Hi Jeremy, thanks for stopping by.

      Politics aside, Dirty Harry resonated with its audience because the character evoked an authenticity that went beyond being flawed. Being imperfect doesn’t make one more real. Harry produced results…just like the Man With No Name.

      Sergio Leone deserves some love for bringing to A Fistful of Dollars its won personality. Even with the near-shot-by-shot similarities, the film didn’t give me the feeling that Eastwood was pretending to be or even re-inventing Toshiro Mifune.

  4. kevmoore

    Clint Eastwood, in all his many guises, has run like a rich seam of gold through every phase of my life, bringing a quality and consistency to acting that is seen in but a rarified few.
    He has that immeasurable ‘watchability’ that he shares with, in my opinion, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Morgan Freeman – they could act the telephone directory and you’d still be riveted by the performance.
    Eastwood’s performances are so succinct, his economical, languid delivery honed to such perfection, it really is a masterclass of acting. The beauty is, he has transcended the studio floor and brings similar qualities to his directing. Million Dollar Baby is a fine example.
    I have had the privilege of living in an era that gave us Fistful of Dollars (made just a few miles up the road from me) Dirty Harry, Bridges of Madison County, Play Misty for me, and Unforgiven, and if I was to ask myself Mr Callaghan’s pointed question “Do I feel lucky?” I’d have to answer, hell, yeah.
    Happy Birthday Clint.

    1. sittingpugs Post author

      He has that immeasurable ‘watchability’ that he shares with, in my opinion, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Morgan Freeman – they could act the telephone directory and you’d still be riveted by the performance.

      I’ll have to add Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman to that list.

  5. kevmoore

    “…I’ll have to add Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman to that list…”

    -No argument from me there. Oldman has an edginess that is eminently watchable. We’re currently revisiting the crucible where Denzel honed his craft – St. Elsewhere. What a great series that was.


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