Clint Eastwood still tops directors by half his age at 91
It is impossible to put Clint Eastwood on the pasture.
Clint turns 91 today, and it’s worth celebrating that this Hollywood legend is still working on a faster, higher-quality clip than virtually anyone in the industry. Granted, prolific doesn’t always mean better, and it can be frustrating to watch your fans hail every new movie as a new masterpiece, when only a fraction of them truly deserve the title. But consider that since the turn of the century, he has given us 17 films including “Mystic River”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “American Sniper” (the latter has grossed over half a billion dollars). dollars, baby).
Five decades ago this year, Eastwood made his directorial debut on ‘Play Misty for Me’, and for a time he was dismissed as one of those ‘directing actors’ – a patronizing label. usually slapped on dilettantes who only got the job done once. , like Marlon Brando (with “One-Eyed Jacks”) or Steven Seagal (“On Deadly Ground”).
But here we are, with 39 movies made – that’s counting Clint’s upcoming “Cry Macho”, a grizzled-cow-boy-make-good saga in which he also appears – and the world has come to recognize Eastwood in first as a filmmaker and a second actor. This helped the French take him seriously, as press agent Pierre Rissient and other Paris-based champions insisted on treating Eastwood like an author from the start. Five of Eastwood’s films competed at Cannes, including ‘White Hunger Black Heart’, in which he played a vaguely fictional version of John Huston, another ‘actor who directs’ – and who did his best work behind the camera. .
Like Huston, Eastwood cannot be traced back to one genre, having tried his hand at several, action (you can feel the influence of Don Siegel in “Sudden Impact”), romance (“The Bridges of Madison County “), war (” Flags of our fathers “), musical (” Jersey Boys “) and of course, Western. Aside from his character of Dirty Harry, who appeared in five films spanning the ’70s and’ 80s, Eastwood is most associated with the West, having effectively replaced the earlier tradition of a friendly white hat hero. with a stoic and discreet character with ambiguous intentions.
At 34, the actor was already crow’s feet when he shot “A Fistful of Dollars,” the 1964 spaghetti western that actually made him a star. The skin around Eastwood’s eyes crumpled like leather every time her unnamed man squinted in this movie, highlighting the fact that he wasn’t an upstart in his twenties taking a break, but a man whose the sturdy cup masked some life experience. Rugged but beautiful, because Eastwood’s undeniable beauty was also a factor – and the very quality that “Dirty Harry” director Siegel put to use in the Civil War reverie of “The Beguiled,” sparking the fainting of a house full of ladies from the South in front of this wounded stud farm of the Union army. .
In the beginning, Eastwood didn’t have the same power to choose projects that we see today – which might explain a seemingly paltry outlier like “Every Which Way but Loose”, although the Orang Buddy movie- utan turned out to be his biggest box office hit, so it can’t have been such a terrible decision. Overall, Eastwood has remarkably consistent in his choices, chiselling out one of the clearest and most iconic screen characters of his generation. It helps that he hardly ever appears in other directors’ films (the last of these dates back to 2012, appearing in Robert Lorenz’s’ The Trouble With the Curve ‘), which has allowed him to shape his own brand. And even some offscreen missteps – like the bit from the 2012 RNC convention where he addressed an empty chair – sounded like a natural extension of the surly “Get off my lawn!” guy he had developed in the movies.
Eastwood’s most enduring film as a director and star, “Unforgiven,” makes particularly careful use of the actor’s “baggage”, effectively deconstructing the image he had cultivated during his career at that time. day, until her Rowdy Yates character from the “Rawhide” television series. This more nuanced revamp of this avid performer role emerged in the Eastwood trilogy starring Sergio Leone, and got even more gritty in “High Plains Drifter” and “Pale Rider,” before being finally canceled for “Unforgiven”. . With this project, knowing we would be rooted for it, Eastwood encouraged us to question the motives for revenge and the morals of those who use violence to solve problems.
As Leone has taken his shooting style to self-aware extremes – dramatic angles, extreme close-ups, and musical cues that threaten to take over the action – Eastwood has clearly resisted this trend in his own. approach. As a director and star, he embraces the “less is more” philosophy, so his technique rarely draws attention to itself. He doesn’t indulge in multiple takes or endless days of filming, engaging in virtually every performance of his actors – which works great when paired with professionals, but less successful when working with. child actors (“Changeling”) or non-professionals (“Le 15h17 à Paris”). He’s also not picky about screenplays, which is a shame, as a handful of his most beloved films could have been a lot better if their writers had put more effort into it up front.
Personally, I have a soft spot for “A Perfect World”, the film that immediately followed “Unforgiven”, a conscientious detective film from the 1960s, in which the fleeing character of Kevin Costner takes a young Jehovah’s Witness hostage. for a chase across the country. . And while it has its detractors, I consider “Mystic River” to be Eastwood’s best film this century: a heartbreaking, dark look at the Upset American Dream. This film, like the novel by Dennis Lehane that inspired it, recognizes the enormous effort that working-class parents put into creating a better life for their children even as it faces the turmoil that ensues. when someone breaks that chain of hope by hurting or killing a child. It is a Greek tragedy transposed in the streets of Boston.
So many filmmakers lose their contact beyond a certain age. This is why Quentin Tarantino has pledged to quit after his 10th film, for fear of not being able to maintain the quality over time. But Eastwood isn’t going anywhere, like a gunslinger with a seemingly endless supply of ammo, still firing after all these years.