Audiences were happy to see Clint Eastwood back for the western-themed Cry Macho, and the perfect follow-up might be the unmade Last Ride West. Eastwood became an unexpected movie star after making 1964 Spaghetti western A Fistful Of Dollars. His stoic Man with no Name became an instant icon, and he followed the movie with two equally beloved sequels. While the popularity of the western was slowing down during the ’60s and ’70s, he almost singlehandedly helped keep the genre afloat.
Clint Eastwood directed and starred in several western favorites, including 1973’s eerie High Plains Drifter and 1985’s Pale Rider. Possibly his most acclaimed outing is Unforgiven, which features both his best work as a performer in addition to deconstructing the genre itself. He famously sat on the screenplay for around a decade, waiting until he was a little older and more weathered to play antihero Will Munny. While that was his last, true western, Eastwood recently starred and helmed Cry Macho, a drama set in the ’70s about an aging rodeo star.
Cry Macho was yet another movie that first crossed his path in the 1980s before he finally returned to it in 2020. Cry Macho is better because of this long development and belongs in the neo-western subgenre, which takes the familiar tropes of the western but gives them more of a modern twist. Eastwood has only taken on a handful of acting parts in recent years and much prefers to be behind the camera now. That said, his turn in Cry Macho was very well received, as was the film’s western leanings. While it’s very unlikely he could ever top the reception given to Unforgiven, if he felt like saddling up for one last western, he could revisit another unproduced screenplay with Last Ride West.
In 2003, it was reported that Clint Eastwood was considering a western return with Last Ride West. The script was linked to John Logan – who coincidentally also penned 2003’s The Last Samurai – and AICN (via IGN) revealed the synopsis, which “follows an aging cowboy who crosses the frontier near its end one last [time] with a bunch of settlers heading to California and has to deal with how his way of life is coming to an end.” This sounds like a role custom-built for Eastwood as both helmer and star, and it’s easy to see why he was attracted to it.
He ultimately chose 2004’s Million Dollar Baby as his next film, followed by 2006’s World War 2 duology Flags Of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. It’s possible Last Ride West fell through the cracks during this time, or maybe Eastwood just had second thoughts about a western comeback. Still, audiences were happy to see him front and center for Cry Macho, and Last Ride West feels like it could be a nice follow-up, or even an epilogue, to his western legacy.