Once filming of Breezy had finished, Warners announced that Eastwood had agreed to reprise his role as Callahan in Magnum Force (1973), a sequel to Dirty Harry, about a group of rogue young officers (among them David Soul, Robert Urich and Tim Matheson) in the San Francisco Police Department who systematically exterminate the city's worst criminals. Although the film was a major success after release, grossing $58.1 million in the United States (a record for Eastwood), it was not a critical success. The New York Times critic Nora Sayre panned the often contradictory moral themes of the film, while the paper's Frank Rich called it "the same old stuff".
Eastwood starred with Shirley MacLaine in the western Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), directed by Don Siegel. The film follows an American mercenary, who becomes mixed up with a prostitute disguised as a nun, and ends up helping a group of Juarista rebels during the reign of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. Eastwood again played a mysterious stranger – unshaven, wearing a serape-like vest, and smoking a cigar. Although it received moderate reviews, the film is listed in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. Around the same time, Eastwood starred as one of a group of Americans who steal a fortune in gold from the Nazis, in the World War II film Kelly's Heroes (also 1970), with Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas. Kelly's Heroes was the last film Eastwood appeared in that was not produced by his own Malpaso Productions. Filming commenced in July 1969 on location in Yugoslavia and in London. The film received mostly a positive reception and its anti-war sentiments were recognized. In the winter of 1969–70, Eastwood and Siegel began planning his next film, The Beguiled (1971), a tale of a wounded Union soldier, held captive by the sexually repressed matron (played by Geraldine Page) of a Southern girls' school. Upon release the film received major recognition in France and is considered one of Eastwood's finest works by French critics. However, it grossed less than $1 million and, according to Eastwood and Lang, flopped due to poor publicity and the "emasculated" role of Eastwood.More Info
According to a CBS press release for Rawhide, the Universal-International film company was shooting in Fort Ord when an enterprising assistant spotted Eastwood and invited him to meet the director, although this is disputed by Eastwood's unauthorized biographer, Patrick McGilligan. According to Eastwood's official biography, the key figure was a man named Chuck Hill, who was stationed in Fort Ord and had contacts in Hollywood. While in Los Angeles, Hill became reacquainted with Eastwood and managed to sneak him into a Universal studio, where he introduced him to cameraman Irving Glassberg. Glassberg arranged for an audition under Arthur Lubin, who, although very impressed with Eastwood's appearance and stature, then 6'4" (193 cm), disapproved of his acting, remarking, "He was quite amateurish. He didn't know which way to turn or which way to go or do anything". Lubin suggested that he attend drama classes and arranged for Eastwood's initial contract in April 1954, at $100 per week. After signing, Eastwood was initially criticized for his stiff manner and delivering his lines through his teeth, a lifelong trademark.More Info
Eastwood's first western as director was High Plains Drifter (1973), in which he also starred. The film had a moral and supernatural theme, later emulated in Pale Rider. The plot follows a mysterious stranger (Eastwood) who arrives in a brooding Western town where the people hire him to protect them against three soon-to-be-released felons. There remains confusion during the film as to whether the stranger is the brother of the deputy, whom the felons lynched and murdered, or his ghost. Holes in the plot were filled with black humor and allegory, influenced by Leone. The revisionist film received a mixed reception, but was a major box-office success. A number of critics thought Eastwood's directing was "as derivative as it was expressive," with Arthur Knight of the Saturday Review remarking that Eastwood had "absorbed the approaches of Siegel and Leone and fused them with his own paranoid vision of society." John Wayne, who had declined a role in the film, sent a letter to Eastwood soon after the film's release in which he complained that, "The townspeople did not represent the true spirit of the American pioneer, the spirit that made America great."More Info
Dirty Harry (1971), written by Harry and Rita Fink, centers on a hard-edged New York City (later changed to San Francisco) police inspector named Harry Callahan who is determined to stop a psychotic killer by any means. Dirty Harry has been described as being arguably Eastwood's most memorable character, and the film has been credited with inventing the "loose-cannon cop" genre. Author Eric Lichtenfeld argues that Eastwood's role as Dirty Harry established the "first true archetype" of the action film genre. His lines (quoted above) are regarded by firearms historians, such as Garry James and Richard Venola, as the force that catapulted the ownership of .44 Magnum revolvers to new heights in the United States; specifically the Smith & Wesson Model 29 carried by Harry Callahan. Dirty Harry, released in December 1971, earned $22 million in the United States and Canada. It was Siegel's highest-grossing film and the start of a series of films featuring the character Harry Callahan. Although a number of critics praised Eastwood's performance as Dirty Harry, such as Jay Cocks who described him as "giving his best performance so far, tense, tough, full of implicit identification with his character," the film was also widely criticized as being fascistic. After having been second for the past two years, Eastwood was voted first in Quigley's Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll in 1972 and again in 1973.More Info
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