Clint Eastwood’s best films as a director and actor

Clint Eastwood, American actor and film director, was born in 1930 in San Francisco. After finishing elementary school, at the height of the Great Depression, he had to earn a living in various jobs: he was a lumberjack, bricklayer and metal worker. After spending four years in the army, beginning in 1954 he tried to make a place for himself in Hollywood as a supporting actor. His first performance was in ‘Francis Joins de Wacs‘ (1954), by Arthur Lubin, which was followed by some work for television.

But it was in Italy where he made fame and fortune with the character of the ‘Man with no name’, the hero of the great westerns of Serge Leone: ‘For a Fistful of Dollars’ (1964), ‘Death Had a Price’ (1965), and ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ (1966), considered canonical works of the spaghetti western (low-budget productions based on in the American western made in Italy). Of three, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ It is the quintessential spaghetti western.

later it would come ‘Until his time came’ (1968), an amazing film both in terms of planning and photography in technicolor and panoramic Techniscope, the work of Tonino delli Colli, or in the vigorous staging by Nino Baragli. Filmed in Almería, the soundtrack of Ennio Morricone It would deserve all the honors on its own.

This kind of trilogy catapulted Clint Eastwood to stardom, helping him to consolidate his image. His charisma, his tall and somewhat lanky profile and a dry face, with a reduced range of gestures but great expressiveness, would eventually make him one of the most appreciated actors in Hollywood.

Back in the United States, Eastwood founded the production company Malpaso and increased his prestige from his collaboration with director Don Siegel, especially through the character of harry callahan, a policeman with very particular ways, tough, violent, self-sufficient and not devoid of cynicism. The first title in this series was Dirty Harry’ (1971), a film that gave him the definitive accolade and from which four sequels would be shot.

the character of harry callahan he is the archetype of the ruthless and violent defender of the law. A man of action, violent and bitter, he takes justice into his own hands and has no other way out than to rebel against the rules he considers unfair. Moved by his own law, he respects little or nothing the decisions of the authority.

Described by critics as a film with a fascistic tone, its followers only see Callahan a character with his own morals, independence of rules and freedom of action. Little by little, in the following films, the character acquired greater sense of humor and lost some of its violence. The following installments would be ‘Harry, the Strong’ (1973), by Ted Post, on a script by John Milius and Michael Cimino; ‘Harry, the Enforcer’ (1976), by James Fargo; ‘Sudden impact’ (1983) directed by himself; and Buddg Van Horn’s ‘The Black List’ (1988).

In the field of acting, Clint Eastwood was becoming an actor who connected with the old Hollywood tradition, an artist whose presence was felt at the box office and who managed to give films personality. Still in the 90s, more than one title achieved a public triumph and even good reviews as a result of Eastwood’s interpretation; such is the case of ‘In the line of fire‘ (1993), by Wolfgang Petersen, in which he played a presidential bodyguard whose years begin to weigh him down physically and morally.

As a director, he slowly earned critical respect for his classic approach to filmmaking and his ability to handle action with fluidity, without diminishing the psychological depth of the characters or the dramatic and human strength of the conflicts raised. Sometimes he added to his work as a director that of interpreter of his own films, without one activity drowning out the other.

It started with ‘Chill in the night’ (1971) and, from the mid-1980s, a series of notable titles proved his worth as a filmmaker. Thus, he directed and starred in ‘The Pale Horseman’ (1985), a western of biblical reminiscences in which he managed to update a genre that seemed exhausted by changing public tastes. Your movie ‘bird’based on the life of saxophonist Charlie Parker (a role brilliantly performed by Forest Whitaker) achieved great international success in 1988 and gained critical respect.

In 1989 he directed and starred in a film that did not achieve all the success that was expected, but that showed his courage and originality when choosing the approaches: ‘White hunter, black heart’. Inspired by the filming of ‘The African Queen’, the legendary film by John Huston, Eastwood reserved the character of Huston himself, whose personality he carried out an accurate analysis of.

The fertile and at the same time suggestive career of Clint Eastwood as a director found in 1992 one of its most definitive expressions in the unrepeatable ‘no forgiveness’. Dedicated to Sergio Leone and Don Siegel, masters of Eastwood’s beginnings in film as an actor, it is a western that, decades after the apparent death of the genre, manages to recover and collect all the tradition of it and of Eastwood’s own career . From the Fordian shots in which the women are distributed in a painful choreography on the porches of the town to see the protagonists arrive, this Eastwood masterpiece is a somber and twilight tour of the hero’s fatigue and his impossible redemption.

no forgiveness‘ is a western of impeccable classicism, direct and transparent, irresistibly lyrical; but it is also, at the same time, a sordid tragedy full of sound and fury, inevitably violent, in which the purity of the objectives does not serve to redeem the chaos and hatred that feeds the soul of its protagonist. The film received, among others, the Oscar to the best film and to the best direction, and consecrated Clint Eastwood as one of the wisest filmmakers of the moment.

Yes no forgiveness It’s the definitive Eastwood western, in a way. ‘The bridges of Madison’ (1995) was his definitive melodrama, in a decade in which the creative talent of its director is in an unrepeatable state of grace. ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ is a brave melodramatic proposal based solely on the love of cinema, a prolonged prowling between two characters (Eastwood himself and an excellent Meryl Streep) who evolve before a camera fascinated by each of the gestures, the glances, of the words that are addressed to each other.

The tremendous emotional catharsis that Eastwood is capable of arousing through the image is transparently revealed in the captivating final third, in which the sentimental suspense reaches heights of unusual nudity, something that is also found in the splendid ‘A perfect world’ (1993), melodramatic thriller of sentimental initiation between an escaped prisoner (Kevin Costner) and a child kidnapped by him in his escape. Eastwood’s classicism makes him recover the best traditions of American cinema with an admirable aesthetic and ethical honesty, something that, as has already been said, derives from the passionate lessons learned from John Fordas well as his blood brothers Siegel and Leone.

After several decades of professionalism, Clint Eastwood He is considered a master of directing, and it is even appreciated that his interpretive work has improved over the years. Artistically ambitious, his style always aspires to perfection, both acting and directing, a quest that has not been at odds with box office success. Among his latest films, the aforementioned ‘A Perfect World’ (1993), ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ (1997), ‘Imminent Execution’ (1999) and ‘Space Cowboys’ (2000) stand out.

Clint Eastwood with Leonardo Di Caprio
Clint Eastwood with Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of «J. Edgar»

‘Mystic River‘ (2003) received several awards at both the Golden Globes and the Oscars, most notably for its male actors, Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. The same thing happened with ‘Million dollar Baby’ (2004), an Oscar-winning drama about a woman who insists on being a boxer in order to succeed in life, for which she establishes an intense relationship with a former boxer who is dedicated to training.

In 2006, the actor and filmmaker directed ‘Flags of our fathers’ Y ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’, two films that refer to the same moment in history (the battle of Iwo Jima, at the end of World War II), but seen in the first case from the American perspective and in the second from the Japanese. At the age of 76, Eastwood gave a new twist to his long career with a deep meditation on the essence of heroism, analyzed from a position of absolute independence. ‘Great Turin’, ‘J. Edgar ‘,’ Jersey Boys ‘and’ American sniper ‘are his last films and reaffirm Eastwood as one of the great contemporary film directors.

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Clint Eastwood’s best films as a director and actor


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