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."
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
The Dollars trilogy was not released in the United States until 1967, when A Fistful of Dollars opened on January 18, followed by For a Few Dollars More on May 10, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on December 29. All three were commercially successful, particularly The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which eventually earned $8 million in rental earnings and turned Eastwood into a major film star being ranked for the first time on Quigley's Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll in 1968 in fifth place. All three received poor reviews, and marked the beginning of a battle for Eastwood to win American film critics' respect. Judith Crist described A Fistful of Dollars as "cheapjack," while Newsweek called For a Few Dollars More "excruciatingly dopey." Renata Adler of The New York Times said The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was "the most expensive, pious and repellent movie in the history of its peculiar genre." Time magazine drew attention to the film's wooden acting, especially Eastwood's, though a few critics such as Vincent Canby and Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised his coolness. Leone's cinematography was widely acclaimed, even by critics who disparaged the acting.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
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