Posted on October 17, 2018
by Steve Janowick
Was it the intense, icy stare? Was it the ominous inflection and cadence of his voice? Was it the legendary one-liners? How about the .44 Magnum or the dusty poncho? Maybe the cool way he walked? A walk that oozed with foreboding menace. Was it the prolific body of work that spanned almost 60 years-50 of them pulling double duty as both an actor and director? Hell, who knows? In my opinion, it’s all of these things and then some! But one thing’s for certain. To deny that Clint Eastwood was one of the greatest, most bad-ass legends of all time, the embodiment of effortless masculinity and reserved ruggedness, is to admit…well…I…I don’t know exactly what it admits, but you get the point.
I remember as a little kid seeing Dirty Harry for the first time on VHS. I couldn’t have been more than 10 years old but my reaction when it was over was both palpable and powerful. I vividly remember when the ending credits rolled, sitting alone in our dark, perpetually cigarette smoke-hazed, living room trying to comprehend what I just saw. Part of it was the story itself: a rogue, anti-establishment cop pursuing a sicko that’s terrorizing San Francisco. A city whose bureaucrats are more concerned about the sicko’s rights, while Callahan (Eastwood)-only concerned about the victims’. There was no comparing him to the saccharine, one-dimensional cops I was seeing on television at the time. He was scary cool and tough, and his hard-boiled brand of justice and virtue left a visceral and indelible impression on me.
I was hooked.
As I grew older and had access to more movie viewing possibilities, I started devouring the whole Eastwood catalog. I realized, even at a young age, that he was certainly no great thespian. Clint had a very limited range but what he did he did better than anybody and everybody. His portrayal of the man with no name in his Spaghetti Western trilogy firmly established the silent loner persona he would utilize throughout his career playing cowboys, cops and war heroes. He was misunderstood and often loathed by the feminists du jour of the day who could never decipher between the man and the characters he played. But that aversion slowly dissipated as he segued from action hero to critically acclaimed director and score composer. While most of his contemporaries were dying and retiring, Eastwood was carving out an impressive list of directorial masterpieces such as Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, and American Sniper, cementing his place in Hollywood history as one of its most prolific, original and influential players.
As you probably noticed, I wrote this piece referring to Clint in the past tense. I did this because, in my heart, I believe his “bad-ass” days have since passed and I want to remember him for the legend he was…But then, I decided to check IMDB (the movie database website) and saw that he’s releasing a movie later this year which he’s starring in and directing called The Mule, about a 90-year-old drug smuggler.
Clint Eastwood still IS the legend!
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