Eastwood plays an aging gunfighter in this so-called “anti-Western,” which he also directed and won Best Director and Best Picture Oscars for.
Million Dollar Baby
A Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated performance as a grizzled boxing trainer who decides to take on a girl, against his better judgment. She (Hilary Swank) turns out to be the champ he never had. Morgan Freeman also plays the best sidekick ever. Though he didn’t win for acting, he did win the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director, again.
GREAT PERFORMANCES YOU MAY NOT HAVE SEEN:
Play Misty for Me (a jazz DJ who is stalked by a woman, in his directorial debut)
Coogan’s Bluff (a Western sheriff in New York City)
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (a semi-retired thief, opposite Jeff Bridges)
Every Which Way but Loose (a bare-knuckle boxer with an orangutan)
Honkytonk Man (a guy seeking a last chance to become a star)
Tightrope (a New Orleans detective)
Absolute Power (a thief who witnesses a murder involving the President)
Gran Torino (a grizzled neighbor of a Korean boy whom he protects from Asian gangs)
Where Eagles Dare (a soldier in WWII)
Kelly’s Heroes (a soldier in WWII)
Escape from Alcatraz (real-life escapee Frank Morris)
In the Line of Fire (a Secret Service agent, opposite John Malkovich as the villain)
Space Cowboys (an old, old astronaut given another chance to go into space)
Paint Your Wagon (a miner in a musical, opposite Lee Marvin and Jean Seberg)
THE ORIGINAL MAN WITH NO NAME:
A Fistful of Dollars
For a Few Dollars More
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
THE BEST OF THE WEST:
Hang ‘em High (a sheriff turned farmer out for revenge against nine men who wrongfully hanged him)
Two Mules for Sister Sara (opposite Shirley Maclaine)
High Plains Drifter (a mysterious cowboy savior)
The Outlaw Josey Wales (a farmer out for revenge on his family’s murderers)
Pale Rider (a mysterious cowboy savior)
The Gauntlet (Callahan by another name)
The Dead Pool
THE REAL EASTWOOD:
Before he made it as an actor, Eastwood was a jazz pianist, a firefighter, a lumberjack, a steelworker, and a soldier during the Korean War. Oh, and after he made it as an actor, he was the mayor of Carmel, California. Clearly, he’s not far from any of his many macho roles. Even in his most brilliant directorial efforts he puts himself as a cowboy and a boxing trainer. Probably the real Eastwood is closest to his film, “Bird,” about Charlie Bird Parker. After all, his first directorial piece had him as a jazz dj, and he’s written many of the scores for his films.
Minimalist. If John Wayne could act (and direct, for that matter), he would be Clint Eastwood. That statement isn’t exactly fair to Clint, who was just as high, if not higher than the Duke, in the popularity polls even when John Wayne was kicking. As a matter of fact, Eastwood has been one of the top ten most popular actors every decade since the ‘50s. It’s also not fair because Wayne took forever to say nothing, and Eastwood says volumes with a mere utterance.
Rather than playing the same ol’ cowpoke for decades, Eastwood traded his appearances in the Westerns and other macho schtick for the chance to direct and star in his own pieces. Some of those lesser-known pieces are his best.
BITS AND QUIRKS:
It’s not like you don’t know them. They’re classic. The squint. The gritting teeth and growl out of the side of the mouth. The heavy, heavy stare (separate from the squint). Talking through clinched teeth. Crazy driving. The roll of the head, led by the chin. Jazz. The whisper.
“This is a 44 Magnum” speech
“Go ahead. Make my day.” speech
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Arguing with Hilary Swank over taking her on > The training sequence > The fights > The hospital scene at the end
Confronting the Asian gangs
IN THE LINE OF FIRE
In the glass elevator with Malkovich > Stopping the assassination
Always the confrontation, before the gunfight
EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE
The scenes with Clyde, the orangutan > the bare-knuckle boxing scenes
The training sequence > Fixing the satellite > Landing the crippled shuttle