He became a movie star playing The Man With No Name, and today his name is known around the world. Measured by longevity, productivity, and profits, Clint Eastwood is the most successful actor-director-producer in American film history. This book examines the major elements of his career, focusing primarily on his work as a director but also exploring the evolution of his acting style, his long association with screen violence, his interest in jazz, and the political views – sometimes hotly controversial – reflected in his films and public statements. Especially fascinating is the pivotal question that divides critics and moviegoers to this day: is Eastwood a capable director with a photogenic face, a modest acting talent, and a flair for marketing his image? Or is he a true cinematic auteur with a distinctive vision of America's history, traditions, and values? From A Fistful of Dollars and Dirty Harry to Million Dollar Baby and beyond, The Cinema of Clint Eastwood takes a close-up look at one of the screen's most influential and charismatic stars.
About the Author
David Sterritt is chair of the National Society of Film Critics, film professor at Columbia University and the Maryland Institute College of Art, and editor of The Quarterly Review of Film and Video. He has published books on Alfred Hitchcock, Terry Gilliam, the Beat Generation, and many other subjects, and he was film critic of The Christian Science Monitor for almost forty years.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Play Mystic for Me
1. Pros and Cons: The Case For/Against Clint
2. A Fistful of Movies: Rowdy Yates and the Man With No Name
3. The Rising Star: Clintus, Siegelini, and Company
4. Any Which Way He Can: From Misty and Harry to High Plains Drifter and The Outlaw Josey Wales
5. Portrait of the Artist as a Major Player: From Pale Rider to Bird
6. Invictus: From John Huston to Jersey Boys
7. Eastwood's Politics: 'Leave everyone alone'
Epilogue: 'If somebody's dumb enough to ask me '
Filmography as Director
What People are Saying About This
David Sterritt's balanced study of Clint Eastwood's career as star, director, and cultural icon accepts what many Eastwood enthusiasts have known since the early 1990s – 'The aging Eastwood, more invested than ever in the resonance of myth and the indeterminacy of the past, is the most interesting Eastwood of all.' Eastwood's impromptu and off-putting speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention helps Sterritt realize that Eastwood is an odd figure, a contrarian who resists categorization over time, a progressive libertarian who uses his venerable persona and newfound off-camera auteur status to question every facet of his life and times. He both reflects and deconstructs key American archetypes. The Man With No Name and Dirty Harry support the American belief in the regeneration of violence, yet later Eastwood films such as Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Gran Torino contemplate the guilt and denial associated with that same violence. Eastwood's iconographic individualism eventually gives way to a contradictory need for community and sacrifice in films as diverse as The Outlaw Josey Wales and Jersey Boys. His longstanding association with unassailable masculinity comes at the expense of female empowerment and male self-awareness – from Two Mules for Sister Sarah and Play Misty for Me to Million Dollar Baby and J. Edgar Eastwood knocks down the phallus, confronting us with male figures wracked with personal doubt and patriarchal regret. Eastwood is now the most successful star/auteur in American film history – no one, not even Charlie Chaplin or Woody Allen, can match his longevity. Sterritt's book recognizes this, while still acknowledging that many critics, both from the left and the right, have major reservations about Eastwood and his work that belie his complexity and enduring legacy.
Who would have thought a book about Clint Eastwood could be this entertaining, balanced, and surprising? The supremely knowledgeable David Sterritt has done impressive research; his warmly witty, worldly and engaging prose style enables us to see all the clashing viewpoints and contradictions surrounding this enigmatic subject.
The critic David Sterritt and the filmmaker Clint Eastwood are a perfect fit: both are lean, no-nonsense craftsmen with a sharp eye and steady aim. Set in relief against the terrain of Hollywood and American culture, Sterritt's absorbing study brilliantly illuminates the art of the iconic star and shape-shifting auteur.
Combining his graceful prose with mature critical insights, David Sterritt makes a powerful argument that this American icon should also be respected as a serious filmmaker worthy of sustained scholarly attention. For Eastwood fans and those who should be, this book will certainly make their day.