Total Recall: Best Movies Starring Clint Eastwood
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Trouble with the Curve star.
He's done some pretty terrific work as a director -- in fact, we devoted a previous Total Recall to it -- but for our money, there's nothing quite like seeing Eastwood's complete filmography and growl in front of the camera, so when we saw that he'd be starring opposite Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake in this weekend's Trouble with the Curve, we knew what we needed to do. If you like your guns big, your action mean, and your protagonists strong and silent, this list is for you. Do you feel like Total Recall? Well, do ya, punk?
10. Coogan's Bluff
The most resolutely deadpan of all fish-out-of-water films, 1968's Coogan's Bluff stars Eastwood as a backwoods deputy who travels to New York City to extradite a wanted man and ends up falling down a psychedelic rabbit hole of tough guys and hippie chicks. The first of five collaborations between Eastwood and director Don Siegel, Coogan's Bluff exploited its premise effectively enough to inspire the television cop drama McCloud -- and earn praise from critics like Don Druker of the Chicago Reader, who wrote, "Eastwood's performance as the flawed, headstrong superman has been terribly underrated, but he brings to the part of Coogan a sure knowledge of the man's obvious strengths and not so obvious failings."
Italian audiences saw Eastwood's work in A Fistful of Dollars long before American ones -- and they made that movie such a hit that director Sergio Leone was ready to make a sequel before Eastwood had even seen the final cut of the original. The result, For a Few Dollars More, set Eastwood's Man With No Name against the Man in Black (Lee Van Cleef) in a gunslinging chase thriller that ended up drawing almost as much critical praise as its predecessor. In fact, Time Out's Geoff Andrew preferred it to Fistful of Dollars, writing that it was "A significant step forward" and lauding "the usual terrific compositions, Morricone score, and taciturn performances."
By the time 1976's The Outlaw Josey Wales rolled around, Eastwood was on his fifth film as a director and his ninth as the star of a Western -- all of which is to say that Wales should have been pretty tired stuff, and it's all the more impressive that it ended up being so darn entertaining. A black comedy with plenty of action and loads of heart, Wales positions Eastwood as the central figure (and highly entertaining straight man) in a bumbling chase across the frontier. Observed Movieline's Joshua Mooney, "The truly impressive aspect of Eastwood's Wales is just how broad a range of emotions the actor conveys without forsaking his legendary economy of gesture, or ranging beyond his ultra-macho monotone growl."
Most of today's action stars don't look rough enough to even be sent to jail, let alone escape from it -- but director Don Siegel rounded up a posse of convincing crooks for 1979's Escape from Alcatraz, and led the whole sorry bunch with a perfectly nasty Clint Eastwood. Playing real-life convict Frank Morris, Eastwood helped turn the fact-based Alcatraz into a gripping prison break thriller. "Siegel stages it all like a collection of haikus," enthused CinePassion's Fernando F. Croce, calling it "all grilled corners and hard camera pans, not a single wasted frame."
6. Dirty Harry
How do you write the perfect script for Clint Eastwood in the 1970s? Just imagine a no-nonsense cop with a giant gun and zero tolerance for the criminal element. Turning Eastwood loose in San Francisco and setting him in pursuit of a vicious serial killer calling himself "Scorpio" (Andy Robinson), Dirty Harry helped set the tone for the lone-vigilante cop flicks of the ensuing couple of decades -- and kicked off a series of hit films that would help keep him employed until the late 1980s. "Dirty Harry was the original rogue tough-guy cop film," observed Netflix's James Rocchi, "and while years of imitation, emulation and outright mockery have chipped away at the archetype, it's still fascinating to observe in its original form."