Everyone knows that Clint Eastwood is Hollywood’s favorite cowboy since John Wayne. But then, he has also gone into directing movies, and to everybody’s surprise, Eastwood has actually become a better director than an actor, winning more awards in directing than acting.
Not convinced? Here are four movies that explore Clint Eastwood’s range behind the camera.
You might jokingly say, “Oh no, Eastwood directing a Western! Isn’t that just so unpredictable?” yes, you could definitely say that it was very characteristic of Clint Eastwood to direct a movie about cowboys, something he is very familiar with, but then, what makes Unforgiven a true cinematic gem is the director’s reinvention of the genre. There are no scenes here with predictable storylines of cowboys turning into bandits and gun drawing just like the Westerns of the 1950s and 1960s. Thus, the movie became quite a treat for those who want something new, as it looked modern, with the audience not forced to reminisce on images of John Wayne. Sleek and stylish, Unforgiven won several awards including the Best Director plum for Eastwood.
Eastwood directs himself in this story about gang violence, race, and a whole lot of other issues. A disgruntled and grumpy Korean War veteran, Walt Kowalski (played by Eastwood) set out to reform a Hmong neighbor who was set to steal his most cherished possession, a 1972 Gran Torino. Although it can be construed as Eastwood just directing himself in yet another movie about an angry old man, the humanity in the story about how he sets to reform the teenager that was supposed to wrong him is great to watch. This tough guy knows how to make the predictable (I mean, how else would you think a movie about Eastwood protecting the oppressed would turn out) very watchable. Although ignored at the Oscars, the American Film Institute named Gran Torino one of the 10 Best Films of 2008.
Million Dollar Baby
Coming two years before Gran Torino was Million Dollar Baby, a movie which showcased again Eastwood’s flair for the drama set in rather tough situations. In this movie, Clint cast himself as tough guy boxing trainer Frank Dunn who had misgivings in coaching a female boxer played by Hillary Swank. However, as his numero uno prize fighter signed for the big leagues with a hotshot manager, Dunn had no choice but to place the female boxer under his wing. The heart wrenching ending, among others, gave Eastwood yet another Oscar for Best Director, while also giving Swank a Best Actress trophy, Best Supporting Actor award to Morgan Freeman, and Best Picture citation for the film. This movie proved once and for all that Eastwood can direct women, not just actors for cowboy roles.
The Bridges of Madison County
Did you know that Eastwood had co-starred with “the” Meryl Streep? Yes, Meryl as in the most nominated actress in Oscars history and winner of three. The movie, based on the bestseller by Robert James Waller, is about an affair between a lonely housewife and a photographer who just happened to pass by the town. This counts as one of Eastwood’s first roles as a romantic lead, but yes, a lot of people do not know he directed this movie, too!
This range of movies shows that Dirty Harry isn’t just a one-trick pony. He is actually quite prolific and diverse, and really good as a director, too!