Clint Eastwood

Dennis Bingham

in Cinema and Media Studies

ISBN: 9780199791286
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:
Clint Eastwood

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Clint Eastwood (b. 31 May 1930–), a dominant figure in cinema for nearly five decades, has enjoyed three exceptional careers, almost concurrently. He is a star actor whose persona evolved into an exceptionally powerful signifier of American masculinity, a director whose work has all the characteristics of the classic auteur, and an independent producer whose methods both mesh with and run counter to the workings of the “New Hollywood.” Eastwood was the first TV actor to attain major film stardom, the last great film star—and director—of westerns, and the only American actor to become a movie star first in Europe—the latter a quirk of the internationalized cinema of the 1960s. He directed thirty-one films between 1971 and 2010, by far the most successful actor-director in film history. Eastwood was in many ways a late bloomer. He received his first Academy Award nominations, for best actor, best director, and best picture, at age 62 (he won the latter two). He hit his peak as director more than a decade after that, winning his second, third, and fourth Oscar nominations for best director in his seventies, between 2003 and 2006. In 2005, at 74, he became the oldest person to win the Oscar for best director; in 2009, at 78, he was the oldest star ever of a movie that hit number one at the weekly North American box office. With this extraordinary longevity, and no doubt inciting it, went an equally unlikely ideological trajectory. In the 1970s he was the chief cultural icon of machismo. Dirty Harry (1971), among other movies, established him as the avatar of a white male post-1960s backlash. Films he made in the 1980s, especially Tightrope (1984), spurred a reappraisal by feminist critics. Later, pictures such as Unforgiven (1992) and A Perfect World (1993) seemed conscious reversals of the equally conscious politics of Dirty Harry. Essentially, Eastwood is the last of the prolific studio directors, cranking out genre films and appearing to loathe idleness more than anything. Since the early 1970s, he has enjoyed a productive relationship with a major studio, Warner Bros., despite periods of great industrial and technological change, making modestly budgeted films as quickly as any independent director of the same eras. Of all contemporary film figures Eastwood is one of those most frequently written about. What follows is an attempt to represent by no means all, but rather the most-important works on Eastwood across a variety of perspectives and formats.

Article.  8290 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies ; Film ; Radio ; Television

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