Eastwood directed and starred in The Gauntlet (1977) opposite Locke, Pat Hingle, William Prince, Bill McKinney, and Mara Corday. In this film, he portrays a down-and-out cop assigned to escort a prostitute from Las Vegas to Phoenix to testify against the mob. Although a moderate hit with the viewing public, critics had mixed feelings about the film, with many believing it was overly violent. Ebert, in contrast, gave the film three stars and called it "classic Clint Eastwood: fast, furious, and funny." In Every Which Way but Loose (1978) he has an uncharacteristic offbeat comedy role. His character, Philo Beddoe, is a trucker and brawler who roams the American West searching for a lost love (Locke) accompanied by his best friend, Orville Boggs (played by Geoffrey Lewis) and an orangutan called Clyde. The film proved surprisingly successful upon its release and became Eastwood's most commercially successful film up to that time. Panned by critics, it ranked high among the box-office successes of his career and was the second-highest-grossing film of 1978.
Eastwood teamed up with Jeff Bridges and George Kennedy in the buddy action caper Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), a road movie about a veteran bank robber Thunderbolt (Eastwood) and a young con man drifter, Lightfoot (Bridges). On its release, in spring 1974, the film was praised for its offbeat comedy mixed with high suspense and tragedy but was only a modest success at the box office, earning $32.4 million. Eastwood's acting was noted by critics, but was overshadowed by Bridges who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Eastwood reportedly fumed at the lack of Academy Award recognition for him and swore that he would never work for United Artists again.More Info
Eastwood was cast as Tom in Star in the Dust (1956) with Richard Boone. He joined the Marsh Agency, and although Lubin landed him his biggest role to date in The First Traveling Saleslady (1956) and later hired him for Escapade in Japan (1957), without a formal contract Eastwood was struggling. On his financial advisor Irving Leonard's advice, he switched to the Kumin-Olenick Agency in 1956 and Mitchell Gertz in 1957. He landed several small roles in 1956 as a temperamental army officer for a segment of ABC's Reader's Digest series, and as a motorcycle gang member on a Highway Patrol episode. In 1957, Eastwood played a cadet in West Point series and a suicidal gold prospector on Death Valley Days.More Info
Eastwood's next film The Eiger Sanction (1975) was based on Trevanian's critically acclaimed spy novel of the same name. Eastwood plays Jonathan Hemlock in a role originally intended for Paul Newman, an assassin turned college art professor who decides to return to his former profession for one last "sanction" in return for a rare Pissarro painting. In the process he must climb the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland under perilous conditions. Mike Hoover taught Eastwood how to climb during several weeks of preparation at Yosemite in the summer of 1974 before filming commenced in Grindelwald, Switzerland on August 12, 1974. Despite prior warnings about the perils of the Eiger the film crew suffered a number of accidents, including one fatality. Despite the danger, Eastwood insisted on doing all his own climbing and stunts. Upon release in May 1975 The Eiger Sanction was marginally successful commercially, receiving $14.2 million at the box-office, and gained mixed reviews. Joy Gould Boyum of The Wall Street Journal dismissed the film as "brutal fantasy". Eastwood blamed Universal Studios for the film's poor promotion and turned his back on them to make an agreement with Warner Brothers, through Frank Wells, that has lasted to the present day.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
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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