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To be honest with you, there are a number of Clint movies that I don't like for the simple reason that they gave a lot of wannabes the idea that all you have to do to solve a problem is blow someone away with a great big gun ("Dirty Harry" for example). On the other hand, he's made some damn fine movies. And I still hold a place in my heart for him as Rowdy Yates on "Rawhide".

Ralph H.

He's made some wonderful movies as well as some that were pretty terrible, but Kelly's Heroes stands out as an outstanding existential war movie, with a superb ensemble cast. And a real Tiger tank!

Ken Muldrew

The Eiger Sanction is my favourite Eastwood movie. I still wonder why he wore a construction hard hat while on the Eiger. In fact, I remember going to a slide show by Hamish Macinnes (he was one of my climbing heroes back then, and he had coordinated the climbing sequences for the movie) where he expressed his own amazement at Eastwood's insistence on wearing a construction hard hat. Eastwood was actually way up on the Eiger for many of the sequences, and the rock there is much like the Canadian Rockies in that it is crumbling at an appalling rate. Just being on that cliff puts you in danger of getting brained by rockfall. An odd choice for a Hollywood movie star, that's for sure.

PZ Myers

C'mon. Rowdy Yates. Rawhide. That's what I remember.

Then the spaghetti westerns.


I think the first Eastwood movie I saw beyond the Leone ones was "Play Misty for Me," which did what a scary movie is supposed to do. It scared me. And Clint was good in it, which showed me that he wasn't just a guy in a serape with a cheroot.

Kevin Wolf

Oddly, I do remember the fascist label and the titters about Clint's acting. That all stuck even as he became big at the boxoffice. The thing to remember with Eastwood, and I suppose this would apply to anybody with a career as long and as busy as his, is that the work is wildly uneven both in directing and acting. And when it's bad, there seems to be an odd lack of self-awareness at the root.

Dirty Harry is problematic because, despite the outlaw hero tradition you rightfully cite, we were no longer dealing with fantasy or "ye olde days." We're right on the streets of "your" city - at a time when crime was seen to be rampant and those who could were fleeing urban areas for suburban. Kael is, in an essential way, correct about the movie. (She was actually more incensed by Magnum Force: "The movie is full of what in a moral landscape would be sickening scenes of death... Here, the audience is meant not to empathize but to say 'Wow!'") Of course, the movies and outlaw heroes being what they are, all of this is what made the movies popular. Dirty Harry certainly fit the mood of the moment. And damn, but Dan Siegel sure knew what he was doing (though, he too, was never a Kael favorite).

Clint was obviously smarter than he was given credit for, and smart enough to trade on his image (such as in the Every Which Way movies, his biggest hits up to that time, believe it or not). But as he moved in the 80's to broaden the types of films he made, he made some real crap. Heartbreak Ridge, anyone? Eastwood should have known this was pure dreck before he shot the first scene.

In the early 80's I lived in New York City and when Honkytonk Man was released it was treated respectfully - my first experience with Eastwood as auteur. (Not that I went to see the film - and neither did anybody else.) In the course of the 80's Eastwood put out some just plain good movies like Escape From Alcatraz - Siegel again - and Bronco Billy, a favorite of mine. And he put out bad movies like the disaster City Heat, his Burt Reynold buddy cop pic. Bird was his bid for seriousness and that was also that movie's problem.

Whatever. By the 90's he reestablished himself on both sides of the camera (In the Line of Fire and Unforgiven) and became not just a pop icon but an artiste. As director I think he's just plugged away at it and gotten better - helped also when the material suits him. It's as an actor that I find Eastwood's arc to be more interesting. He's never had much range, and as a physical specimen simply can't hide who he is. But beginning mainly in the 80's he's managed some interesting variations. A favorite of mine is in The Gauntlet - one of his junkier vehicles - in which he plays a tough but none too smart cop. He very nicely shows us that his character just is not bright. He plays a deeply flawed homicide cop in Tightrope (another flawed movie).

That he remains worth watching is amazing. He's worth following. You can probably tell by now that I've spent too much time watching Eastwood's movies.

minstrel hussain boy

"bird" is one of the better snapshots of a musician's life. he got a lot of it right. and forest whitaker was brilliant. (but, even though he tried really hard, i could tell he was faking the sax. i don't blame him for faking, just that i could tell)

Tom Mason

Where Eagles Dare was probably my first Eastwood movie, followed by Kelly's Heroes, (and to this day I love both of them) then I backtracked to the Italian Westerns. (And The Secret War of Harry Frigg remains one of my favorite Paul Newman movies.)


Everything Kevin Wolf said, and I also LOVE "The Gauntlet" with Clint's female companion of the time, Sondra Locke, accompanying him in the defensively fortified bus he drives up the corrupt downtown streets of Phoenix with the entire police department shooting at them.

Also enjoyed the Dirty Harry movies when they came out as weirdly violent, homoerotic camp, but Pauline was right, they were pure fascism with real consequences, as the recent Martin/Zimmerman make my day moment in Florida reminds us.

As for Ward flipping out over "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly," that was probably more on account of Sergio Leone, the wildly underrated popular director than Clint Eastwood as an actor, though you have to admit the camera has always loved Eastwood. Personally, I preferred Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson in "Once Upon a Time in the West" in the REAL Spaghetti Western masterpiece.


I, too, remember the days when liking Eastwood was considered a guilty pleasure, although I hasten to add that I was then not yet old enough to share in that feeling.

I liked a lot of his pictures, but if I had to pick one, as measured by how much I expected to like it compared to how much I ended up liking it, I think it would have to be Unforgiven.

Leo Leahy

Clint Eastwood was an underappreciated actor in the '70s, but he learned his craft as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide and the spaghetti westerns are justifiably classics now, as is the Dirty Harry series. He's made some marginal movies (as did Laurence Olivier and Henry Fonda, among others) but his acting in Play Misty For Me, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider and Unforgiven is deservedly celebrated, as are his directing in Bird, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima. Sometimes Pauline Kael missed the mark.

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