There has always been a rule of thumb: You don’t mess with Clint Eastwood. The guy just turned eighty and we still advise against the idea. Clint Eastwood is a tough guy’s tough guy on the screen, and the beauty is that you can buy heavily into the concept. Clint always played a man of few words and a lot of action in movies. He occasionally cut corners on ethics in his movie characters, but the bad guys richly deserved a trial by Dirty Harry or the man with no name. It would be hard to figure out any legitimate reason why that psychotic lowlife in the first Dirty Harry movie didn’t earn a Harry-style interrogation on that football field. And it got good results.
Movie-goers could always believe that Eastwood was a tough guy. It simply made more sense than Bruce Willis. He was a big rangy guy with a steely-eyed presence on the screen, and he was very light on the small talk. Clint came from the Duke Wayne School of acting where big men played big roles.
The early years of his on-screen success were based upon his spaghetti western roles as the “man with no name”. If you were a bad-ass in these movies, you did not want to know this man’s name. Clint Eastwood played a loner cowboy who specialized in minding his own business. It was a good plan, except that a world of cut-throats and thieves beat a path to his door. Usually it was the last time these low-lifes spent any quality time above ground.
Clint was not afraid to take chances as an actor, so he was cast as a mild-mannered settler in a musical—and he sang in the movie. Nobody had the guts to tell Clint he couldn’t sing, but it was obviously a role he played for laughs. And there are plenty of laughs when Clint sang in ‘Paint Your Wagon’.
However, Clint was a multi-talented guy who had a serious musical streak in him as a composer- if not a singer. He still directs movies if they are worthy of his attention and he is responsible for some great movies as a director.
One of his biggest movies was ‘The Unforgiven’, because it went into a darker side of an Eastwood character. It was a movie that took the man with no name character, gave him a name, a bloody past, and scraped away a few ethics from a typical Eastwood character. He was essentially on the right side of a moral question, but his body count showed a merciless side to his character
Clint Eastwood has been able to mold some of his tough guy roles into something different as he has gotten older. ‘Gran Torino’ was a good example of a new direction for an Eastwood character when he took a bullet for his neighborhood. Well, actually many bullets, and that was a big departure from most of his movies where he pitched (rather than caught) most of the flying lead.
So Clint is now eighty years old, but he is still a believable tough guy at that age. He still glides when he walks- no arthritic shuffle walk for this guy. And to tell you the truth, few among us would want to anger up the man with no name, even if he just turned eighty. A man’s got to know his limitations when you mess with Clint.