Today, May 31, Clint Eastwood junior turns 90. He will do it at a family meal, with some of his children. One of them, Scott, also an actor, already announced a few days ago to American television, that although his father does not like those parties, of course there would be cake. Beyond his complex personality, which has earned him many enemies, the filmmaker has always shown a good nose for choosing films both as an actor and as a director that fit him and his style. He has never written a script, but has known how to select the best scripts that appeared on his table, and that is why he has marked current American cinema, turned into a classic in a world of superheroes and fervid special effects, a lover of fast filming and first-time shots in an industry anchored in ultra-studied shots so that they can be retouched by CGI, which lengthens any filming. In these 90 years, Eastwood has participated in or directed a large number of huge films and a handful of masterpieces. Here we select nine to honor his nine decades of life.
THE DOLLAR TRILOGY (1964-1966)
If they are seen in a row, it is perfectly understood that Sergio Leone created a unity of style through the man without a name, the cowboy in the poncho that Clint Eastwood gave life to in For a bunch of dollars (1964), The dead had a price (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Legend has it that the poncho was the same in all three films and that it was never washed. Eastwood got fed up with the perfectionist Leone and they never worked together again, despite the fact that the two built a monumental key trilogy in world cinema, a cornerstone of the world. spaguetti western and an artistic lesson for Eastwood, especially in his composition of shots: some frames of his films as A perfect world (1993) seem dictated by Leone. By the way, of the seven actors who worked on the three films, only one remains. Obviously Eastwood. And that he was not the youngest of that select group.
‘THE LEGEND OF THE CITY WITHOUT A NAME’ (1969)
Lee Marvin – drunk every day of the shoot – and Clint Eastwood share Jean Seberg during the California Gold Rush. And on top of that they sing. Only someone like Joshua Logan, possessor of a fascinating eclectic filmography in which this was his last film, could carry out a musical western with these wickers. It was shot in natural settings in Oregon, in the shadow of the success of Smiles and tears, and that’s why he adapts a Broadway hit of which only the title remained on the screen (Paint Your Wagon), half of the songs and some of the characters in a script by the mythical Paddy Chayefsky. The final budget was doubled originally, the film was a disaster at the box office, and Eastwood learned from that moment that the best producer was himself. And yet, what a marvel, what dialogues (“What is a fornicator?” “I don’t know, I’m not a religious man” or “I’ll give you a boy, give me back a man”, which they commission from a prostitute), what great characters.
DIRTY HARRY (1971)
The other director from whom Eastwood learned to make film was Don Siegel, with whom he worked at ease on the four films they made together. With this Dirty Harry I start the legend of the unscrupulous cop Harry Callahan. Mitchum and Lancaster had already rejected the story – as violent – when it fell into Eastwood’s hands, and it was Eastwood who hired Siegel; Together they decided which script to shoot: there were up to four versions of the story. One of them was written by Terrence Malick. It was not used, but many of his ideas put together the script for the sequel Harry the strong. As he used to say to his armed opponents: “Go … make my day.”
Now nobody remembers, but Clint Eastwood has directed 38 feature films. And many did not achieve the complacency of the critics … except The pale rider (1985), the western he made before returning to the genre in Without forgiveness (1992). Of course, box office, all. Eastwood was a hit with the public. Until Bird, in which the filmmaker shows his passion for jazz. The biography of Charlie Parker, played by Forest Whitaker, won two awards at Cannes (including best actor), the Golden Globe for best director and an Oscar, the first for an Eastwood film. It is also his first masterpiece as a director thanks to his understanding and explanation of wildlife and the talent of the saxophonist who died at just 34 years old.
‘WITHOUT FORGIVENESS’ (1992)
Eastwood ascended to heaven, the film won four Oscars (two for him, as director and producer of the best picture), and the western settled in the cinema of the nineties. The script about William Munny, this gunman who returns for a last mission, spent two decades hanging around Hollywood (Gene Hackman rejected it at the time), until Eastwood rescued him, convinced Hackman, recruited Richard Harris and Morgan Freeman, and filmed his last canonical western.
‘THE BRIDGES OF MADISON’ (1995)
The most sentimental drama of Eastwood’s career. And it is true that it might not catch on in his career (it was even thought for Robert Redford, a more obvious choice). But in his hands it became a very intelligent film, starting with the choice of another veteran actress to give life to Francesca, although physically she did not fit the character’s traits: the idea of calling Meryl Streep came from Ruth Wood, the mother of Eastwood. He played the magazine photographer National Geographic which portrays bridges in Iowa and therefore passes by the farm where Francesca spends a few days alone, after her husband and children go on vacation. The novel had been a bestseller, even if its quality was not up to that high, and it was Richard LaGravenese’s script that raised its bar.
‘MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL’ (1997)
It is extremely rare for an exceptional novel to come out of an exceptional film, as fortunately happens in this case. John Berendt wrote a book that drinks the soul of Savannah, the most eccentric city full of myths and enigmatic characters in Georgia, through the eyes of a reporter who arrives to cover the murder trial in which a millionaire is accused local. Eastwood had the wisdom to shoot in the same settings as the events that inspired the book, and some supporting characters are played by the real people. By the way, the producer and director put his daughter Alison through up to three auditions and several script readings before she landed her role.
‘MYSTIC RIVER’ (2003)
One of the best films of the 21st century so far. And a title that places Eastwood at the height of the greatest. With ultra-delicate material: the portrait of three Bostonians, childhood friends until one of them was kidnapped by a pedophile. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins (Oscars for both) and Kevin Bacon chisel out their characters, and in supporting roles Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney (what a final conversation with Penn) underpin the story, based on a Dennis Lehane novel. Eastwood made his usual move of shooting at the location (Boston) where the story is set to achieve proper verisimilitude. By the way, the film went through Cannes without winning a single award.
‘LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA’ (2006)
The original idea was complex: tell the battle of Iwo Jima from both sides, the American and the Japanese. And release the two films in a row, and in the respective languages. Flags of our fathers hook, but Letters from Iwo Jima It is resounding, brutal, honest. It benefits from an impressive actor, Ken Watanabe, who plays General Kuribayashi, and who was unfairly not nominated for an Oscar (yes the movie). Eastwood has filmed various war conflicts throughout his career; even so, Letters from Iwo Jima It is his great piece in this genre.
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Clint Eastwood: Nine Movies for Nine Decades | Culture