There are two types of film actors-those who lose themselves in the role becoming the part and those who adopt a persona that catches on with the public which they take from role to role.
Clint Eastwood is definitely the latter and he announced awhile back that he would not be doing any more acting and that GRAN TORINO is his last film as an actor (he will still at the age of 80 continue to produce and direct films ).
Clint Eastwood is hard figure to discuss in a critical sense. He’s just made so many films both good and bad. I salute his discipline!
I’ve decided to make a list of my five favorite Eastwood performances (Most of these films he also directed). Counting backwards….
5.) THE GAUNTLET – Eastwood plays an alcoholic policeman from Arizona, hardly Dirty Harry more of a loser who is given the task of escorting a prostitute to testify in court. The information she possess would indict forces at the highest echelons of the Phoenix police force. The film is quite good because it possesses a sense of reality. The characters are not especially clever (except for the prostitute who is sly in the street sense). Plenty of good action and Eastwood does a good job playing a much less than superhuman character.
4.) ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ – Eastwood in prison. Well made almost documentary like film and the scenes between Eastwood and Patrick McGoohan are a primer in acting.
3.) UNFORGIVEN – I love this film but still can’t help feeling it’s slightly overrated. It’s well written got an interesting plot and allows Eastwood to do his avenging angel thing although he does play around with his persona wrestling pigs in mud etc. Both Gene Hackman and Richard Harris almost steal the show here. Some of the critics went overboard in their praise but it is an interesting meditation on violence and the cycle of violence.
2.) WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART – This is the closest I’ve ever seen to Eastwood actually playing a role. Here he plays a fictionalized version of the director John Huston as he attempts to direct THE AFRICAN QUEEN (Names changed due to the threat of lawsuit I imagine). Eastwood actually adopts Huston’s trademark raspy delivery and takes on his character-a very good film!
1.) HONKEYTONK MAN – My favorite Eastwood performance. A doomed country singer dying of tuberculosis, a man who missed his moment in life as viewed through his nephew (played by his own son Kyle). Eastwood creates an original character and sings his own songs as well. His greatest performance.