A new collection crams much of Clint Eastwoods six-decade career into a box set. What do the films, from Dirty Harry to The Bridges of Madison County, tell us about the life and politics of this prolific American institution?
Clint Eastwood occupies the same position in pop culture that Keith Richards does: he has been around for ever; he has done tons of amazing work; he embodies the rebellious, iconoclastic spirit of the mid-60s; and he has never sold out and become a joke like just about everyone else in his generation.
Even timid, self-effacing men who have never fired a gun, much less puffed on a stogie, secretly wish that they could just once sport that filthy poncho, bite down on that cigarillo and fill the streets of Laredo with lead. When push comes to shove, Eastwood, the original rock-star cowboy, can always fall back on the statement: Im Clint Eastwood, and youre not.
A newly released box set, Clint Eastwood: 40 Film Collection, provides a perfect opportunity to assess the stars remarkable career both as an actor and as a director.
Eastwood, with whom the public has had a love affair for the 59 years since he debuted as high chaparral stud muffin Rowdy Yates in the TV series Rawhide, has probably had the most amazing career in motion picture history. There are bigger stars and there are better directors, and there are other stars who have become accomplished film-makers, but none of them can touch Eastwood for the breadth and quality of his work, for his success at the box office, and for his ability to never go out of fashion.
Eastwood has starred in or directed roughly one movie a year for the past 53 years. Most of them have been pretty good; some have been great. (Some of the greats dont actually make this box set, including A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the films that made him famous).
The equally prolific Woody Allen comes closest to Eastwood as a creative double threat, but Allen makes the same movie over and over again, and he cannot act in any way, shape or form. And, unlike Woody Allen, the public actually likes Clint Eastwood.