In Praise of Clint Eastwood
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Clint Eastwood at 80. 'Old man'? You damn well better smile when you say it...
If masculinity had a face, it would be his face. Even as he aged, Clint Eastwood still held the distinct air of authority that has made him a star throughout the 20th century, an attribute of which is clearly visible in his movies. His roles throughout the years have been numerous and, occasionally, quite obscure; but they have all still featured that underlying sense of masculinity and control that only Eastwood can bring to a role.
From the spaghetti westerns to his last acting role in Gran Torino, Eastwood has always held a position of power within his movies, whether it is as the no-nonsense Inspector Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry or as aging boxing trainer Frankie Dunn in Million Dollar Baby. This is a man who not only made the transition from Wild West cowboy to hard hitting San Francisco Inspector seamlessly, but managed to do so with such a professional and convincing nature that it became the most recognisable character of his acting career.
It is all too easy to write a piece about Clint Eastwood’s success because of the numerous roles he has undertaken and the critic acclaim he has received throughout. However, it is important to understand a little bit about his background and to assess where he has come from.
Eastwood was born on the 30th May, 1930 in San Francisco, to a middle class family whose sole income was provided by his father. The family was forced to relocate often in pursuit of regular work, before finally settling in Piedmont, California. It was clear that Eastwood was going to develop into the broad shouldered adult that has graced our screens, with the actor/director admitting in an interview with the Guardian that he weighed over 11 pounds at birth.
His manly image is only furthered by the fact that he has admitted to being a serial womaniser, fathering at least seven children with five different women. His success and impressive physical appearance played a pivotal role in this, and Eastwood has admitted to having at least six intimate relationships, with the last being to his second and current wife, anchorwoman Dina Ruiz.
"Although spanning an acting career of over 53 years, things could have been very different. At a young age, Eastwood shunned many advances from drama teachers and showed little enthusiasm towards acting."
Although spanning an acting career of over 53 years, things could have been very different. At a young age, Eastwood shunned many advances from drama teachers and showed little enthusiasm towards acting. In 1949, Eastwood planned to attend Seattle University and to major in music but, in 1950, was drafted to the US Army to assist in the Korean War. It was here that, after a chance meeting with Universal and the subsequent friendship that resulted with director Arthur Lupin, Eastwood began his route towards a long and prosperous career in acting.
With the advent of his 80th birthday, it is still clear to see that the same level of desire and passion burns intently within him, and he has much left to offer. Gran Torino was his self proclaimed “swan song”, with Eastwood informing that it would be his last role in front of the camera and that he intended to concentrate his efforts on directing. To date, he has directed or co-directed 32 movies and his last three, Invictus, Gran Torino and Changeling, have all been met with critical acclaim.
"As an individual, Eastwood is a fantastic example of the unpredictability of life itself; his acting and former lifestyle has shaped both who he is now and how he came to be perceived on screen"
Clint Eastwood has achieved so much in his time and has lived an interesting, if not unstable, lifestyle. While he takes much pride in his directing and has expressed a keen desire to continue this for years to come, he is keen to spend as much time with his youngest daughter, Morgan Eastwood. As an individual, Eastwood is a fantastic example of the unpredictability of life itself; his acting and former lifestyle has shaped both who he is now and how he came to be perceived on screen. Much can be learnt from one of America’s greatest movie stars, both good and bad, and he deserves much praise for this.
His movies have become iconic of 20th century cinema, with many actors and directors speaking of their respect for him and his work. His work has dealt with a number of issues including racism, rape and debauchery, and yet his on-screen presence has always been the most talked about outcome. I recommend everyone to go out and experience his roles while he is still alive, because it will inevitably grant a better understanding of his work as a director.
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