Icon and a living legend, Clint Eastwood is a superstar in international cinema. Born in San Francisco 81 years ago today, he is the son of steelworker Clinton Eastwood Sr. (1906-1970), and factor worker Ruth Eastwood-Belden (nee Runner, 1909-2006). The family moved around Northern California before settling in Oregon. After graduating high school, he moved to Seattle and worked as a lifeguard before training as a lifeguard for the military in 1951. After completing his service, he moved to Los Angeles where he found work digging swimming pools. Clint started trying out for bit parts in B-movies, and was signed as a contract player for Universal. He found work as an actor with brief, uncredited appearances in ‘Tarantula’ (1955) and ‘Revenge of the Creature’ (1955), which led to credited supporting roles in more various b-movies. He got his breakthrough at the end of the decade with the TV series ‘Rawhide’ (1959), where he was a cast member for six years. As Rowdy Yates, he made the show his own and became a household name around the country.
But Eastwood found even bigger and better things with ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ (1964), ‘For A Few Dollars More’ (1965) an ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’ (1966). Clint became synonymous with the character the Man With No Name and the movies were a big hits, with the latter turning him into an international star. Eastwood got some excellent roles thereafter. He starred in ‘Coogans Bluff’ (1968), the western ‘Hang ‘Em High’ (1968) and the musical ‘Paint Your Wagon’ (1969). Eastwood went in an experimental direction again with ‘Kellys Heroes’ (1970) and ‘Two Mules For Sister Sara’ (1970), both of which combined tough-guy action with offbeat humor.
1971 proved to be his best year in film, or at least one of his best. He directed his first movie, the thriller ‘Play Misty For Me’ (1971), in which he played a man being stalked by a crazed female admirer whose obsession with him turns from seductive to violent. That same year, he starred for his mentor, director Don Siegel in ‘The Beguiled’ (1971) an played the hard edge police inspector in ‘Dirty Harry’ (1971) that gave Eastwood another one of his signature roles and invented the loose-cannon cop genre that has been imitated even to this day. Eastwood also found work in American revisionist westerns like ‘High Plains Drifter’ (1973), which he also directed. He had constant quality films over the next few years, teaming up with Jeff Bridges in Michael Cimino’s directorial debut, the buddy-acton flick ‘Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’ (1974), and starring the “Dirty Harry” sequels ‘Magnum Force’ (1973) and ‘The Enforcer’ (1976), the quintessential western and my personal favourite ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ (1976), action flick ‘The Gauntlet’ (1977), and the hugely successful comedy ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ (1978) with Clyde the orangutan.
Eastwood found even more solid work with the fact-based thriller ‘Escape From Alcatraz’ (1979). The sequel to “Every Which Way but Loose”, ‘Any Which Way You Can’ (1980), was also a blockbuster despite negative reviews from critics. It was the fourth ‘Dirty Harry’ sequel, ‘Sudden Impact’ (1983) (the highest grossing film of the series) that made him a viable star for the eighties and gave to world a new catchphrase: “Go ahead, make my day”. Clint also starred in ‘Firefox’ (1982), ‘Tightrope’ (1984), ‘Pale Rider’ (1985), and ‘Heartbreak Ridge’ (1986), which were all big hits but did not become classics. His fifth and final “Dirty Harry” movie, ‘The Dead Pool’ (1988), was a minor commercial hit but severely panned by critics. Shortly after his career declined with the outright bomb comedy ‘Pink Cadillac’ (1989) and the disappointing cop adventure ‘The Rookie’ (1990). It was fairly obvious Eastwood’s star was declining as it never had before.
But Eastwood surprised yet again. First with his western, ‘Unforgiven’ (1992), which garnered him an Oscar for best director and producer of the best picture, and nomination for best actor. Then he took on the secret service in ‘In The Line of Fire’ (1993), another huge hit. Next up was ‘The Bridges of madison Couty’ (1995), a popular love story with Meryl Streep. Over the next few years, the quality of his films was up and down. He directed and starred in the well-received ‘Absolute Power’ (1997) and ‘Space Cowboys’ (2000), and the poorly received ‘True Crime’ (1999) and ‘Blood Work’ (2002).
However, Eastwood rose to prominence once again, first as director with ‘Mystic river’ (2004) and then directing and starring opposite Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman in what is arguably the best made film of his career: the boxing drama ‘Million Dollar Baby’ (2004). A critical and commercial triumph, the movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as earning Eastwood a nomination for Best Actor and a win for Best Director. He directed ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ and ‘Letters From Iwo Jima’ (2006) for producer Steven Speilberg. He then directed the Angelina Jolie starring ‘The Changeling’ before breaking his four-year acting hiatus by starring in ‘Gran Torino’ (2008). This film grossed $30 million during its opening weekend in 2009, making him the oldest leading man to reach #1 at the box office, and another one of his biggest hits.
After starring in iconic movies for four decades, Clint Eastwood has proved himself to be the longest-running movie star. Although he is aging now and focusing more on directing, his career continues to thrive. Clint Eastwood has been one of my idols for as long as I can remember, as a kid watching him on TV, seeing him at the cinema to replaying VHS copies of his movies throughout the 80’s and now on DVD. I love the image, his westerns, the dry humour and dark heart in his work; he’s priceless and irreplacable. LEGEND.
This entry was posted on May 31, 2011 by Geordie. It was filed under Biography, Biography: ACTORS, Biography: DIRECTORS, Birthdays and was tagged with Action, Actors, Awards, Biography, Blockbuster, Classic, Cult, Hollywood, Icons, Images, Legend, Thriller.