There are few in Hollywood history who have approached what Clint Eastwood has accomplished. He's been in the business for 65 years and has been directing movies for nearly 50. He went from TV star to Spaghetti Western icon to Dirty Harry to Josey Wales to Philo Beddoe to Bill Munny to Walt Kowalski with many other memorable performances peppered in along the way. He directed masterpieces like UNFORGIVEN and MYSTIC RIVER. In his trademark economical style, Eastwood also helmed LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, BIRD, GRAND TORINO, THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, THE GAUNTLET, SUDDEN IMPACT, and AMERICAN SNIPER.
Clint is a one of a kind. My first memories of him are as the bare-knuckle boxer Philo Beddoe and his orangutan buddy Clyde in the 1978 hit EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE and its sequel ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN. My introduction to his iconic "Dirty Harry" Callahan was via the grimy and effective SUDDEN IMPACT, which gifted us with the iconic line, "Go ahead...make my day". But Harry's reputation as a McGarnagle-like rule-breaker was due to the character's eponyous deput and '70s folllow-ups. DIRTY HARRY may not play today like it did in 1971 but it's an of-its-era game-changer. He continued his Western rep with THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES and PALE RIDER while also burnishing his reputation as a director.
With UNFORGIVEN, Eastwood summoned the best of his skills to both star in and direct his slow-burn, high-wattage Western, getting high-caliber work from legends like Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris. After the success of the film, Clint directed more than he acted though he stil had a few memorable roles left. But where younger audiences know him as the director who talked to an empty chair that time and his late career work, Eastwood is nothing short of Hollywood royalty. He's made movies forever. Starred in them forever. Has been on top, on the bottom, and in between.
Clint Eastwood achieved the level where he becomes his own brand, like John Wayne or Tom Cruise or Denzel Washington. Along the way, he's gifted his audiences with some great art. So thanks, Clint. And Happy 90th Birthday to a legend.
P.S. The most underrated Eastwood movie is 1984's tense, psycho-sexual thriller TIGHTROPE. In between Dirty Harry gigs, he played New Orleans cop Wes Block on the trail of a killer whose fetishes align with those of his pursuer. It's some tense, creepy shit and I recommend it.