Dirty Harry (1971) – 87%
Clint eastwood dirty harry
Not every aspect of Dirty Harry is well-aged in the year 2021, but a lot of it is as impactful as ever. The movie’s mood, action, and script were all praised by critics. Furthermore, Callahan is arguably Clint Eastwood’s best character. The story centers on the rebellious Callahan trying to track down a sniper.
Rotten Tomatoes critics also cited the strength in the way the film’s message was conveyed. While it’s action-packed and features a classic villain, Dirty Harry is really about an individual taking on a seemingly oppressive system. In some ways, the Scorpio Killer isn’t so different from Harry Callahan.
The Beguiled (1971) – 89%
The Beguiled features Eastwood as a wounded Yankee soldier taken in by a girls’ school. Once there, he realizes that he has a certain power over the women. They soon teach him that they don’t appreciate being taken advantage of.
Critics found The Beguiled to be a unique mark in Eastwood’s filmography. It was a hybridization of a war film, a romance, and a revenge film. Eastwood, typically the protagonist, has the lead role here but he is no hero. His character, John McBurney, is one of the sleaziest film characters of the 1970s. The Beguiled would get a remake in 2017, directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Colin Farrell as McBurney.
Thunderbolt And Lightfoot (1974) – 90%
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot standing by a mailbox
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot featured Eastwood and Jeff Bridges as two men on the run. Initially strangers, Lightfoot (Bridges) soon learns that Thunderbolt is a bank robber whose gang is out for revenge.
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Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is an early example of the buddy comedy. Bridges turn as the young criminal who gets wrapped up in more than he expected was especially cited. With a poster that made it look like typical violent Eastwood fare, the film was tonally a surprise that paid off.
For A Few Dollars More (1965) – 92%
Man With No Name and Col. Douglas in For A Few Dollars More
For a Few Dollars More took The Man with No Name and gave him a partner: Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef). However, they are far from partners at the beginning of the film, as they are both looking for the same wanted criminal.
Critics cited how For a Few Dollars More lacked the narrative momentum of the first and third installments of the “Dollars Trilogy.” However, like the other two, this film was praised for its action and comedic value. The ace in the hole was Van Cleef, who would appear in For a Few Dollars More’s follow-up The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Hang ‘Em High (1968) – 92%
Jed Cooper strangles man Hang Em High
After finishing the “Dollars Trilogy,” Eastwood played the wrongly-accused Jed Cooper in Hang ‘Em High. After surviving a lynching, Cooper is given the position of federal marshal. With this power, he gets a chance at taking on the men who tried to kill him.
While Hang ‘Em High isn’t seen in quite the same light as two-thirds of the “Dollars Trilogy,” critics found it to be peak-Eastwood in his comfort zone. It was Eastwood’s return to Hollywood after his stint in Italian cinema, even if the film’s best quality was just being palatable fun.
Coogan’s Bluff (1968) – 95%
Coogan with his legs on desk in Coogan’s Bluff
One of Eastwood’s best movies as an actor only, Coogan’s Bluff also helped solidify the personality he would carry in many of his subsequent films. Eastwood plays deputy sheriff Walt Coogan as he travels to New York in hopes of apprehending a dangerous killer.
Most critics appreciated Coogan’s Bluff’s balancing of the Western and the thriller genres. Other critics further cited the film’s use of humor. The most widespread praise went to director Don Siegel’s work behind the camera (he and Eastwood would work together four more times, including on Dirty Harry).
Escape From Alcatraz (1979) – 96%
Frank Morris with other inmates Escape from Alcatraz
Escape from Alcatraz is a prison actioner based on a real-life prisoner escape. Eastwood played the role of Frank Morris, a criminal who also happens to be an expert escape artist.
Frequently called one of the best prison escape films, Escape from Alcatraz was another Eastwood film that received praise for more aspects than just the actor’s performance. It’s a well-made film with a strong script that emphasizes the prisoners’ humanity in a setting that is unforgettable.
In The Line Of Fire (1993) – 96%
Clint Eastwood in In The Line Of Fire, looking to the side with worry
Wolfgang Petersen directed Eastwood in one of the most rewatchable films from the 1990s, In the Line of Fire. The growling legend stars as Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan, a man plagued by his failure to protect John F. Kennedy. He gets another chance when a sadistic assassin called “Booth” threatens to kill the sitting president.
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Bolstered by a chilling John Malkovich performance, In the Line of Fire is a top-tier example of Eastwood’s acting-only filmography. Frank Horrigan is one of his most conflicted and compelling roles. Eastwood brings his trademark gravitas but also flashes the occasional sly smile.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1967) – 97%
The Man With No Name and Angel Eyes square off The Good The Bad and The Ugly
While it’s not a Western Clint Eastwood directed, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is frequently seen as one of his best films. The third installment of the “Dollars Trilogy,” the film is seen as the project that launched Eastwood to the A-List. The plot sees “Blondie” (The Man with No Name) form a precarious alliance with a man named Tuco as they hunt for treasure.
Just about everything in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was critically acclaimed. It was praised for both working as a Spaghetti Western while also playing with the concept of what a Spaghetti Western is. Now, it is seen as a definitive cinematic view of the American West.
A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) – 98%
Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, tipping his hat to someone
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly may be the “Dollars” installment with the greatest legacy, but A Fistful of Dollars holds the highest Rotten Tomatoes rating. In this film, Eastwood’s character plays two sides of a town rivalry against each other.
Sergio Leone’s first film featuring The Man With No Name, A Fistful of Dollars was praised for several production factors. Primarily, Ennio Morricone’s score has gone on to become one of the most iconic in cinema. As a perfectly tone-setting piece of musical work, the score is indicative of the film itself. A Fistful of Dollars stands as one of the best Spaghetti Westerns and helped shape the genre’s films (both U.S. and Italian) for the modern age.