Eastwood's career reached a turning point in 1971. Before Irving Leonard died, he and Eastwood had discussed the idea of Malpaso producing Play Misty for Me, a film that was to give Eastwood the artistic control he desired, and his debut as a director. The script was about a jazz disc jockey named Dave (Eastwood), who has a casual affair with Evelyn (Jessica Walter), a listener who had been calling the radio station repeatedly at night, asking him to play her favorite song – Erroll Garner's "Misty". When Dave ends their relationship, the unhinged Evelyn becomes a murderous stalker. Filming commenced in Monterey in September 1970 and included footage of that year's Monterey Jazz Festival. The film was highly acclaimed with critics, such as Jay Cocks in Time magazine, Andrew Sarris in the Village Voice, and Archer Winsten in the New York Post all praising the film, as well as Eastwood's directorial skills and performance. Walter was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress Award (Drama), for her performance in the film.
In addition to directing many of his own star vehicles, Eastwood has also directed films in which he did not appear, such as the mystery drama Mystic River (2003) and the war film Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), for which he received Academy Award nominations, the drama Changeling (2008), and the biographical sports drama Invictus (2009). The war drama biopic American Sniper (2014) set box-office records for the largest January release ever and was also the largest opening ever for an Eastwood film.More Info
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
An Academy Award nominee for Best Actor, Eastwood won Best Director and Best Picture for his Western film Unforgiven (1992) and his sports drama Million Dollar Baby (2004). His greatest commercial successes are the adventure comedy Every Which Way but Loose (1978) and its action comedy sequel, Any Which Way You Can (1980). Other popular Eastwood films include the Westerns Hang 'Em High (1968) and Pale Rider (1985), the prison film Escape from Alcatraz (1979), the war film Heartbreak Ridge (1986), the action film In the Line of Fire (1993), and the romantic drama The Bridges of Madison County (1995). More recent works are Gran Torino (2008) and The Mule (2018). From 1967 to 2020, Eastwood's company Malpaso Productions has produced all but four of his American films.More Info
In 1958, Eastwood was cast as Rowdy Yates for the CBS hourlong western series Rawhide, the career breakthrough he had long sought. Eastwood was not especially happy with his character; Eastwood was almost 30, and Rowdy was too young and cloddish for Eastwood's comfort. Filming began in Arizona in the summer of 1958. It took just three weeks for Rawhide to reach the top 20 in TV ratings and although it never won an Emmy, it was a major success for several years, and peaked at number six in the ratings between October 1960 and April 1961. The Rawhide years (1959–65) were some of the most grueling of Eastwood's career, often filming six days a week for an average of 12 hours a day, but some directors still criticized him for not working hard enough. By late 1963, Rawhide was beginning to decline in the ratings and lack freshness in the scripts; it was canceled in the middle of the 1965–66 season. Eastwood made his first attempt at directing when he filmed several trailers for the show, but was unable to convince producers to let him direct an episode. In the show's first season Eastwood earned $750 an episode. At the time of Rawhide's cancellation, he received $119,000 an episode as severance pay.More Info
Before Hang 'Em High's release, Eastwood had already begun working on Coogan's Bluff (1968), about an Arizona deputy sheriff tracking a wanted psychopathic criminal (Don Stroud) through New York City. He was reunited with Universal Studios for it after receiving an offer of $1 million – more than double his previous salary. Jennings Lang arranged for Eastwood to meet Don Siegel, a Universal contract director who later became Eastwood's close friend, forming a partnership that would last more than ten years and produce five films. Shooting began in November 1967, before the script had been finalized. The film was controversial for its portrayal of violence. Coogan's Bluff also became the first collaboration with Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin, who scored several Eastwood films in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Dirty Harry films.More Info
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