One of my all time favourite actors/directors turned 85 on 31/5/2015. So I thought I’d celebrate the man that influenced Hollywood for decades, Mr. Clint Eastwood.
Born on May 31, 1930. Clinton “Clint” Eastwood, Jr. has many strings to his bow including; actor, director, producer, musician, and even politician.
I still remember the first time my elder brother (Robert) introduced me to Clint Eastwood with; The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. This remains one of my all time favorite films today. Lets take a quick look at Clint’s acting and directing career to date.
Eastwood’s acting debut was an uncredited bit part as a lab assistant in the 1955 film titled: Revenge of the Creature. He went on to have uncredited bit parts in several other films including: Lady Godiva of Coventry, Never Say Goodbye and Escapade in Japan, as well as his first ever small speaking role in: Francis in the Navy.
In 1958, Clint finally received his break in the role of Rowdy Yates for the TV series Rawhide.
Working on Rawhide were some of the most grueling days and months of Clint’s career, where he would often film for six days a week at an average of twelve hours a day. Some directors of the show would criticize Clint for not working hard enough. Rawhide was canceled in the middle of 1965’s. Eastwood made his first attempt at directing when he filmed several trailers for the show, although he was unable to convince producers to let him direct an episode.
Clint was just not getting the roles he wanted, either as an actor or director and would often think about quitting the career.
In 1963, then relatively unknown Italian director; Sergio Leone decided to make a classic American western with a modern Italian twist and style called: Per un pugno di dollari (A Fistful of Dollars) which was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s; Yojimbo.
Eastwood’s co-star on Rawhide, Eric Fleming was offered the lead role but rejected the offer to star in the Italian made film and instead suggested his co-star, Clint Eastwood for the leading part.
From then, a legend of cinema was born.
Clint would go on to make three films in the “Spaghetti Western” sub-genre with Sergio Leone which became collectively known as the “Dollars Trilogy” and this would pave the way for Clint to become a big star back home in America.
Eastwood helped to create one of the most iconic anti-heroes in cinema with the “Dollars Trilogy” by bringing to life “The Man with No Name” as he became known…even though his character in the three films was a different character each time and even more so, in each film his character did have a name…don’t ask, it was a stupid American Marketing idea.
The “Dollars Trilogy” was not released in America until 1967, but with A Fistful of Dollars , For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly all released in 1967 between January and December, these three films marked Clint Eastwood’s first starring role and got him noticed in America cinema.
All three of the films were commercially successful and turned Eastwood into a major film star. However, all three films received bad reviews initially and this marked the beginning of a battle for Eastwood to win American film critics’ respect.
Now with new found recognition also brought more roles being offered to Eastwood. He signed to star in western; Hang ‘Em High, Coogan’s Bluff and Where Eagles Dare (1968). Then he also starred in western musical; Paint Your Wagon (1969).
Clint would direct his first ever feature film in 1971 with; Play Misty for Me. Also in 1971 Clint would star in the action packed cop thriller; Dirty Harry, which would again give Clint the opportunity to bring one of cinema’s most iconic characters and even spawn four sequels.
By this time, Clint had finally answered his critics and became a genuine Hollywood star and director.
Eastwood would end the 70’s with films like; The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Gauntlet, Every Which Way but Loose (where he shared the screen with Orangutan Clyde) and Escape from Alcatraz.
As the 80’s began, Clint carried on his success with more Dirty Harry sequels, along with returning to his western roots with films like; Pale Rider as well as once again teaming up Clyde for the sequel; Any Which Way You Can.
By the late 80’s, Clint Eastwood was firmly cemented as genuine and bankable Hollywood talent as both an actor and director. A talent which carried over into the 90’s with several films including the simply amazing; Unforgiven. A return to Clint’s humble beginnings of the western genre in which he not only starred, but also produced and directed.
As the new millennium approached, Clint started to take more of a backseat in terms of acting and concentrated more on directing with films such as; Mystic River as well as; Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima which was an interesting concept as the two films were companion pieces to each other as both films told the same story of the Battle for Iwo Jima but from two different viewpoints.
While during this time, Clint took more of a directorial role, he still appeared in the odd starring role along the way with; Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino.
Nowadays, Clint rarely appears in front of the camera with his last film as an actor being; Trouble with the Curve (2012). But he has still directed several films including; Invictus, Hereafter, J. Edgar, Jersey Boys and American Sniper. With American Sniper being his latest film to date in 2014.
From humble beginnings of bit parts and simple TV roles to becoming a genuine and hugely talented Hollywood star and even multiple Oscar winner.
Clint has remained one of the most recognisable actor/directors ever, with a rich & varied filmography while also helping to create some of the most memorable and iconic films and characters along the way. I think it’s more than safe to say that Clint Eastwood has definitely answered his earlier critics over the years.
Happy 85th Birthday to one of my all time favourite actor/directors.
Will Munny: “That’s right. I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another. And I’m here to kill you, Little Bill, for what you did to Ned.”
This is just one part of my 85th Birthday celebration of Clint Eastwood. Please also read my overviews of Unforgiven and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.