Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2002 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival The 10 Best Films Of 2001 The 10 Best Films Of 2001 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment Watch: Full 90-Minute Documentary 'Great Directors' With David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Todd Haynes And More Watch: Full 90-Minute Documentary 'Great Directors' With David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Todd Haynes And More "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 20 Most Anticipated Foreign Films Of 2015 The 20 Most Anticipated Foreign Films Of 2015 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

The Films Of Clint Eastwood, Director: A Retrospective

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist October 22, 2010 at 6:38AM

On May 31st this year, Clinton "Clint" Eastwood reached 80 years of age, and he's been acting for 56 of them. Remarkably, since TV show "Rawhide" made him a star in 1958, he's been at the top for almost all that time, having had major box office hits in every decade since the '60s: most recently, "Gran Torino," which surprised most pundits by taking in over $250 million worldwide. There's never quite been an acting career like it, and a retrospective on Clint Eastwood: movie star, would show the breadth and depth of his career.
11

Clint Eastwood
On May 31st this year, Clinton "Clint" Eastwood reached 80 years of age, and he's been acting for 56 of them. Remarkably, since TV show "Rawhide" made him a star in 1958, he's been at the top for almost all that time, having had major box office hits in every decade since the '60s: most recently, "Gran Torino," which surprised most pundits by taking in over $250 million worldwide. There's never quite been an acting career like it, and a retrospective on Clint Eastwood: movie star, would show the breadth and depth of his career.

But in recent years, Eastwood's been better known as a director, and has major movie stars like Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Angelina Jolie falling over themselves to be involved in his projects. He's able to pick and choose from the very best writers and collaborators (Oscar winners Peter Morgan and Dustin Lance Black wrote his two most recent projects), and film festivals, most notably Cannes, where he's something of a favorite, fight for the chance to premiere his latest films. With his latest directorial effort, "Hereafter" expanding to a wider audience today, it seemed like as good a time as any to look at Eastwood's work behind the camera.

We have to admit, we've had our reservations in the past about Eastwood as a helmer: his recent output seems to have suffered from the no fuss, let's-keep-it-to-one-take-so-we-can-be-on-the-links-by-five approach that actors in his films have reported (normally in a positive way, it should be said). But in putting this piece together, we've found a renewed appreciation. For an actor who fits into certain stereotypes fairly easily, his directorial work is varied and unpredictable, and even when the films don't work, they're pretty fascinating.

And when they do work, and there's several stone-cold classics on this list, there are few working in American cinema who can match him. We haven't included everything, particularly in Eastwood's fallow period in the 1980s (mainly because no-one really wants to read 300 words on "Firefox"), but the significant films are all here after the jump, and it's enough to make even those of us who haven't been on the Eastwood train of late eagerly anticipate next year's "Hoover." And for everything that'll follow that too...

"Play Misty For Me" (1971)
The premise for Eastwood’s directorial debut might seem absurdly comical today but hey, it was the ‘70s so cut the guy some slack. The film follows Eastwood, playing a radio DJ who meets a woman who, at first, seems to be a playfully obsessed female fan. She constantly calls into his radio show requesting Errol Garner’s “Misty” and soon Eastwood is curious enough to meet her. They have a one night stand and Eastwood thinks that’s it for her, but as these sorts of stories go, she won’t let him get away that easy. The film has a breezy sort of charm, a few genuine thrills that make it an easy watch on a late night. But the film is also anonymously directed, completely forgettable, and kind of dumb. In many respects it's a “First Film” through and through, with all the imperfections that come with the territory. One to get under your belt and get those muscles moving and to that end, it delivers what you might expect. If anything, the film served as an announcement by Eastwood to his fans, that “Hey, I like jazz music, okay?” and well, mission accomplished. [C]

"High Plains Drifter" (1973)
This might be Eastwood's most overlooked Western and also his most interesting, especially when it's read as a horror Western, instead of just a straight-up gunslinger tale. Eastwood plays The Stranger who defends a small mining town against a bunch of bloodthirsty villains, which is typical Western fare. But the movie has a surprisingly raw edge, especially for populist entertainment in 1973, with strong violence and sexuality. But the genius of "High Plains Drifter" lies in its supernatural overtones, replete with numerous biblical references -- the town Eastwood defends is initially called Lago but is re-titled, in a swath of red paint, as Hell -- and there's a nasty dwarf, played memorably by character actor Billy Curtis, named, biblically, Mordecai. The movie is, visually and thematically, indebted to Sergio Leone and Don Siegel (whose names appear on tombstones in a graveyard sequence in the film), with a much stranger tone that's more akin to modern day revenge epics (Tarantino borrowed heavily for the second half of "Kill Bill" and Edgar Wright is an admitted fan) and ghost stories, than the spaghetti Westerns Eastwood was so well known for. If you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. This is one of the highlights of his entire career. [A-]

This article is related to: Films, Feature, Hereafter, Clint Eastwood, Retrospective


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates