best film:  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was at #46 on my top 100 of all-time. It’s the strongest of the “Dollars” or “Man With No Name” trilogy though Fistful of Dollars (essentially a Yojimbo remake) and For a Few Dollars More are continually amongst my films listed when I discuss all-time underrated films by the consensus on TSPDT. These are superbly rendered and stylized films by Leone and Eastwood is sensational in the lead. Beyond the work with Leone Unforgiven is a masterpiece and I’m pretty confident Million Dollar Baby is, too. Those films come from Clint the director/auteur and feature him in front of the camera of course.

best performance: Unforgiven thought I think you could talk me into at least three others (top four below). His physical (largely silent) performance in the first and last leg of the trio of films with Leone are justifiably iconic. Million Dollar Baby has it all and I could easily argue he gives the best performance of his career (and in that film which is loaded with great acting) in it. However, I think I ultimately land on Unforgiven as his best work. It has some of the silent and screen presence “Eastwood as icon” (a la John Wayne) moments like he did so well in his work with Leone—- but—it also has some more tender moments like his few moments with his children, the moments with the prostitute who mends his wounds, and of course, the brilliant soliloquy under the tree to the “Schofield Kid” actor Jaimz Woolvett.

stylistic innovations/traits:  Eastwood has 20 films in the archives as actor. His career is pretty easy to break down in phases. He has those three landmark films with Leone in the 1960’s and  another solid four films with Don Siegel (2-3 of which are in the top 10 of their respective year). That’s a minimum of five top ten of the year films starring Clint already and we’re not even to 1980. Those two directors (Leone and Siegel) are highly influential on Eastwood (as he notes in his dedication to both in the credit sequence of Unforgiven). He made a bunch of Dirty Harry sequel—some good some bad– made some missteps when he didn’t direct (Clint was a been a massive box office star for the better part of the last 50 years) so I think he largely has liked to remain behind the camera when he acts (directed 10 of his own 20 archiveable performances). He’s no versatile actor—clearly he’s not known for his range. He’s a large screen presence (someone like Jeff Bridges in 1974 just evaporates (not ready) sharing the screen with him) and easily identifiable persona (tough as nails often violent, no BS, moral).  It would be a fantastic study to compare his acting career and accomplishments with Wayne. Clearly Eastwood emerged 60’s and beyond during an era where method and range were considered more important traits for a great actor but Clint’s filmography matches and exceeds many of the best of the same era even during the New Age of Hollywood in the 70’s (many would be thrilled to have In the Line of Fine as their 10th best performance).

directors worked with:   Eastwood (10),  Don Siegel (4), Leone (3) and then once with Cimino

Top 10 Performances:

  1. Unforgiven
  2. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
  3. A Fistful of Dollars
  4. Million Dollar Baby
  5. The Outlaw Josey Wales
  6. Dirty Harry
  7. For a Few Dollars More
  8. High Plains Drifter
  9. The Bridges of Madison County
  10. In the Line of Fire

Archiveable films

1964- A Fistful of Dollars
1965- For a Few Dollars More
1966- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
1968- Hang’em High
1970- Two Mules For Sister Sara
1971- Dirty Harry
1971- Play Misty For Me
1971- The Beguiled
1972- High Plains Drifter
1974- Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
1976- The Outlaw Josey Wales
1979- Escape From Alcatraz
1983- Sudden Impact
1985- Pale Rider
1992- Unforgiven
1993- A Perfect World
1993- In the Line of Fire
1995- The Bridges of Madison County
2004- Million Dollar Baby
2008- Gran Torino