Total Recall: Best Movies Starring Clint Eastwood
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Trouble with the Curve star.
By the 1990s, Eastwood rarely deigned to star in movies he didn't direct himself, but he made an exception for In the Line of Fire, Wolfgang Petersen's taut 1993 action thriller about an aging Secret Service agent (Eastwood) whose guilt over allowing the assassination of President Kennedy makes him the perfect target for a killer (the fabulously creepy John Malkovich) who's plotting to murder the current President. A $176 million box office hit, it also resonated with critics like Jeffrey M. Anderson of Combustible Celluloid, who wrote, "It's an uncommonly exciting, intelligent movie, and one of the best summer movies ever made."
Hot, dark, and mean, High Plains Drifter offered the perfect sophomore outing for Eastwood the director -- and gave Eastwood the actor yet another chance to exact frontier justice and growl bursts of dialogue while squinting into the desert. Steeped in paranoia and topped off with a heaping dose of the supernatural, Drifter follows greed and lawlessness to their horribly logical conclusions; it is, as Vincent Canby argued for the New York Times, "Part ghost story, part revenge Western, more than a little silly, and often quite entertaining in a way that may make you wonder if you have lost your good sense."
Periodic half-hearted revivals notwithstanding, the Western was in pretty poor shape by the early 1990s, its blinkered view of the past discredited by generations of filmgoers raised on gritty screenplays and flawed antiheroes. Clint Eastwood, who made one of the few well-received Westerns of the 1980s with Pale Rider, was just the guy to fix that -- and so he did with 1992's Unforgiven, a bitterly bleak rumination on the addictive futility of vengeance that united an impeccable cast (including Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman) and reaped a bounty of Oscars along the way. Observed Roger Ebert, "That implacable moral balance, in which good eventually silences evil, is at the heart of the Western, and Eastwood is not shy about saying so."
Eastwood and Sergio Leone rounded out the Dollars Trilogy in spectacular fashion with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the film that severed their partnership while bringing some closure to the loose narrative arc they started with A Fistful of Dollars and continued with For a Few Dollars More. Joined here by Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef, Eastwood said farewell to the Man with No Name in a hail of gunfire, inspiring Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune to applaud, "Leone's blockbuster is balanced on the razor's edge between popular entertainment and art film. It took classic American themes and turned them inside out."
Squinty-eyed, gun-toting loner strolls through the desert, winds up in the middle of a good old-fashioned Western gang war, and sees an opportunity to make a few bucks. Awesome gunfights ensue. It sounds like a foolproof setup -- and, to be fair, director Sergio Leone was working from some pretty great stuff with this loose Yojimbo remake -- but in the wrong hands, A Fistful of Dollars wouldn't have been anywhere near as effective. (For proof, see Walter Hill's 1996 misfire, Last Man Standing, which uses the same DNA with far less effective results.) With Eastwood shooting 'em up and Leone exerting his signature command of the camera, the result was the gunslinger classic that Variety called "a hard-hitting item, ably directed, splendidly lensed, neatly acted, which has all the ingredients wanted by action fans and then some."
In case you were wondering, here are Tatum's top 10 movies according RT users' scores:
1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- 93%
2. For a Few Dollars More -- 92%
3. Unforgiven -- 91%
4. Gran Torino -- 90%
5. A Fistful of Dollars -- 88%
6. The Outlaw Josey Wales -- 88%
7. Million Dollar Baby -- 87%
8. Dirty Harry -- 86%
9. Where Eagles Dare -- 85%
10. Kelly's Heroes -- 85%
Finally, here's Eastwood getting the MST3K treatment for his first movie performance -- in 1955's Revenge of the Creature -- :