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Clint Eastwood

30 Years Ago: Clint Eastwood Demystifies His Legend in ‘Unforgiven’

Westerns have always been about mythmaking. A uniquely American genre, the traditional Western elevated the lone gunslinger to a legendary figure, taming a lawless frontier with a lightning-fast draw. Nobody epitomized this more than Clint Eastwood, who, ironically, had to head to Italy to become the all-American hero in director Sergio Leone’s so-called “Spaghetti Westerns,” A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Eastwood was the Man With No Name, a taciturn, iron-willed and seemingly indestructible antihero whose implacable drive for vengeance/justice left heaps of dusty, bloody bodies strewn all over the unforgiving landscape. It’s a myth the ambitious Eastwood leaned into as much as he began to deconstruct it once he embarked on his directorial career. In 1976’s The Outlaw Josey Wales, Eastwood’s gunslinger is as deadly as ever but more complicatedly human than Leone’s supercowboy. And Eastwood the director continued to muddy the hidebound Western archetypes (and his image) until 1985’s Pale Rider, where Eastwood’s unnamed, preacher-clad protagonist is represented more as an inhuman avenging spirit than a flesh-and-blood outlaw.

Eastwood’s post-Pale Rider career saw the director branching out with expectation-defying experiments like the Charlie Parker biopic Bird and 1990’s White Hunter, Black Heart, a thinly disguised depiction of the filming of The African Queen, with Eastwood putting on a polarizing imitation of director John Huston. It genuinely appeared as if Pale Rider was to be the former Western icon’s final foray into the genre he helped popularize.
So the announcement of 1992’s Unforgiven was greeted with something of a shrug. (It didn’t help that his previous film was a buddy cop flick alongside Charlie Sheen.) Sure, the now 62-year-old Eastwood would be portraying an aging gunfighter, lured out of retirement with the promise of one last payday. But the initial ads for the film played up the return of gruff, badass Old West Clint. A pivotal scene from the trailer saw Gene Hackman’s outraged sheriff cry, “You just shot an unarmed man!,” with a grizzled Eastwood quipping a glib-sounding, “Well, he should’ve armed himself.” The prospect of seeing another Eastwood Western was surely enough of a draw at that point, but nothing prepared audiences for what would become one of the best, most acclaimed, and emotionally and thematically richest Westerns ever.
David Webb Peoples’ script had been around since the ’70s, and was optioned and dropped multiple times before Eastwood, seemingly destined to wait until he aged into the central part of William Munny, signed on as director and star. It’s the story of a formerly infamous outlaw whose transformation into an abstemiously loving husband and father is challenged by the news that a group of aggrieved prostitutes is offering a thousand-dollar bounty to anyone who’ll kill the two roughnecks who mutilated one of them. (Thankfully, Peoples’ original title, The Cut-Whore Killings, went away with a proposed 1980’s Francis Ford Coppola version, starring John Malkovich.)
Eastwood’s Unforgiven takes place in a quickly developing Old West, where old gunslingers like Munny and former running partner Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) have settled into creaky domesticity or seized upon lawman roles they once flouted, like Gene Hackman’s Little Bill Daggett, now the sheriff of the Wyoming town at the center of the prostitutes’ quest for vengeance. The myth of the Wild West is carried on here by callow punks like Jaimz Woolvett’s Scofield Kid, who seeks out the broke and widowed Munny for help in collecting the bounty, and active mythmakers like Saul Rubinek’s writer W.W. Beauchamp, who trails self-aggrandizing old gunmen like Richard Harris’ supercilious English Bob, delightedly taking down and embellishing old lies into printed legend.
The collision of all these forces sees Peoples and Eastwood feelingly and brutally stripping away the Western genre’s fanciest garments. Eastwood’s performance is oddly stiff at first, his William Munny speaking with a formality testifying to the strain of reining in his former wildness and recklessness. As he, Ned and the boastful Scofield Kid ride onto Hackman’s town of Big Whiskey, Wyo., the two old men begin to reminisce about — and rue — their former ways, with a fever-stricken Munny confessing that his drunken bloodlust has left him with nothing but regrets.
The trio eventually fulfills their mission, but not before the secretly half-blind Kid breaks down after murdering one of the cowboys in an outhouse, confessing he’d never actually killed anyone and handing Will his revolver. Having been savagely beaten by Little Bill to discourage other fortune hunters, Will is forced to snipe the younger (and more sympathetic) cowboy when Ned can’t bring himself to pull the trigger and leaves for home.
It’s here that that climactic trailer scene comes into much more interesting focus, as Will, finding out that Little Bill has tortured the fleeing Ned to death for information and propped the old man’s body outside of the brothel-saloon as a further deterrent, takes his first drink of whiskey in ages, and sets out for revenge. In front of Little Bill and his gathered deputies, Will shoots the saloon owner and pimp Skinny and, to Bill’s objection, replies with the full line, “Well, he should have armed himself, if he’s gonna decorate his saloon with my friend.” Gunning down Little Bill to complete his revenge, Munny somberly replies to Bill claiming, “I don’t deserve this, to die like this,” with the pronouncement, “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”
Those are killer Western tough guy lines, and Eastwood isn’t unaware of their power to perpetuate the myths he’s been deconstructing. It’s the fact of W.W. Beauchamp’s worshipful appraisal of Munny’s improbable handiwork that Unforgiven plays its last card, however. Having ditched the humiliated English Bob for Little Bill’s brand of revisionist gunslinger history, he now gravitates toward Munny, his brain whirring as he commences rewriting the ugly events he’s just witnessed into yet another thrilling tale of larger-than-life adventure. Beauchamp (patterned on real-life Old West chronicler and exaggerator Ned Buntline) prattles on until the unamused Munny shoos him away, leaving little doubt as to this is Eastwood’s opinion of those seeking to glorify Unforgiven’s grubby violence and dead-end bravado.
Unforgiven – released on Aug. 7, 1992 – cleaned up at the Oscars that year, with Eastwood winning the first of his two Best Director awards, Hackman winning for Best Supporting Actor and the film taking home Best Picture. Everyone in the movie (including Frances Fisher as Strawberry Alice, the most vengeance-minded of the prostitutes) is pitch-perfect in their roles (Freeman and Harris could easily have joined Hackman on awards night), and Eastwood cannily frames his Alberta landscapes in a golden, elegiac glow increasingly at odds with the film’s darkening themes. Peoples’ script is a marvelous construction, its central plot a vehicle for Eastwood’s massaging and festooned with witty embellishments and tight little exchanges for Eastwood’s cast to shine.
In the end, a crawl anticlimactically assures us that William Munny retired to a life of relative prosperity in San Francisco with his children, his lifetime of once-feared deeds fading away along with the abandoned farm he once shared with his wife. Eastwood himself was propelled into the ranks of prestige directors, turning out largely respected big-budget films even as his always curmudgeonly politics curdled into prosaic jingoism at times. Unforgiven, though, remains a singular achievement. Westerns made Clint Eastwood. And then, in his final Western to date, Clint Eastwood turned the camera on himself and his legacy to produce one of the finest Westerns ever made.


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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood Fans Get the Western Icon Trending on Twitter With Epic Throwback Pics

For those people who saw Clint Eastwood trending on Twitter on Sunday morning, then just know that he’s doing just fine. The onslaught of attention, though, did bring some epic throwback pictures to the platform. Fans were sharing many different shots from his iconic career. We picked out a few of them for you to get a peek at and enjoy. Our man Clint loves to keep working and even getting a round of golf in here and there. When he’s on the movie set or in some other setting, it’s always a good time to get some photos.

Those photos and even a video definitely liven up a Father’s Day filled with fun for many. Yep, even Eastwood probably had some fun and well wishes coming his way from his children. Daughter Alison Eastwood is a solid actress in her own right, having starred in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. As for papa Clint, well, where do you start with his movie career? Of course, there’s his time as the “Man with No Name.”

Clint Eastwood Did Find Success In Movies Thanks To ‘Spaghetti Westerns’

The work with Sergio Leone helped him get that movie career up and running. Meanwhile, he made Harry Callahan a major character thanks to Dirty Harry. Yet those Westerns do make him look that much better, right? Think about the “Spaghetti Westerns” that we alluded to just now.

Go beyond that to Unforgiven, a movie he not only acted in but had a role in getting the film made. Heck, Clint Eastwood wanted veteran actor Gene Hackman on board from the get-go. As the story goes, though, Hackman had reservations about joining up. When you play “Popeye” Doyle in The French Connection, that becomes an iconic role for him. But the movie had its fair share of violence and that kind of turned him off at the outset.

In fact, Hackman, at first, said he didn’t want to be involved in another violent movie. That would be because of his daughters, Elizabeth and Leslie, who had some say in the matter. The actor did read the script but said no at first. Eastwood did tell Hackman that there was a chance to make a statement against violence in Unforgiven. When looking at the script again through those eyes, Hackman would agree to do it. Good thing he did. Hackman would win an Oscar for his role. “It’s all in the execution, you gotta execute it right, or else nothing means anything,” Eastwood said in an interview about the film. “He [Hackman] re-read it and came back and said, ‘Yeah, okay, I’ll do this.’”

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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood’s Daughter Reveals Her Favorite Advice He Gave Her

Alison Eastwood is an actress as well one of the daughters of the famed actor and director Clint Eastwood. Getting any type of advice from dear old Dad is a good thing. When it comes to her favorite piece that he gave her, you might think it was acting. She did get the acting bug, too, and did star in the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. This advice must be about her career, right? Nope. It had to do with the always tough task of living life.

“I guess just not to take [life] too seriously,” Alison Eastwood tells Closer Weekly in an interview from 2019. “He never seemed to take anything too seriously. Maybe that’s not a good thing … I don’t know.” Yet she also would offer up a little more insight which she’s picked up from being around him. “He makes me laugh, I make him laugh,” Alison said. “That’s my favorite part about it. I think just having a lot of laughter, especially in our family, amongst ourselves. We’re all getting older.”

Clint Eastwood Isn’t A Big Fan Of His Birthday, Daughter Alison Says

She also says that Dad isn’t a big fan of his birthday. He would rather be doing something else, like working or playing golf, than celebrating his big day. Still, Clint Eastwood keeps on providing fans with film work as an actor and director. He’s achieved great success and to think he also has a classic TV connection. Of course, Clint does from his days playing Rowdy Yates on Rawhide.

Yet it is in the movies of Eastwood that has really made him a household name. Working in Europe would provide some foundational success thanks to the “Spaghetti Westerns” directed by Sergio Leone. He would play the “Man with No Name” in films like A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. They all would lead Eastwood to then become an iconic police officer as Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry. One time, he talked about A Fistful of Dollars possibly becoming an “absolute disaster.” What in the world does he mean by this? Eastwood told Roger Ebert years ago that the movie’s producers were arguing among themselves. The issue at hand was who would pay the bills to get the movie done. This leads him to say, “It could have been an absolute disaster. But, we got lucky with it. And it turned out Sergio Leone was for real.”

While his record of success and achievement is solid, sometimes Eastwood has to pick and choose between projects. When it came to playing Bruce Willis’ role John McClane in Die Hard, Eastwood did turn it down. Screenwriter Jeb Stuart would say that Eastwood said that he didn’t get the humor in the movie.

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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood’s Daughter Posts Rare Selfie, And Her Fans Are Absolutely Loving It

Earlier this week, Clint Eastwood’s daughter, Francesca Eastwood, took to her Instagram account to share a rare selfie.

The actress, who didn’t write a caption for the post, is seen with a pair of pink lens sunglasses while sitting near a plant. Follows of Clint Eastwood’s daughter gushed over the simple snapshot. “Extraordinarily Beautiful,” one follower declared. “You look gorgeous, so much like your mom,” another added.

Francesca is preparing to film her upcoming action-packed movie, “Live Fast, Die Laughing.” The film follows a broke taxi driver in Vietnam who thinks it is his lucky day when a mysterious offers him a fortune to drive her 1,000 miles from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. While on the road, the duo is pursued by mobsters and an assassin. Written by Timothy Linh Bui and Tim Tori and directed by Bui, Eastwood will star in the film alongside Harvey Keitel. 

Clint Eastwood’s Daughter Francesca Talks Starring in a Western Genre Film 

While promoting her 2016 film “Outlaws and Angels,” Francesca revealed to the Observer that she didn’t speak to her father, Clint Eastwood, about starring in the western genre film.

“I didn’t ask my parents for advice on this one,” Francesca stated about the role. But she did admit that she usually asks her parents but she wanted to do her own thing this time. “So I just ran and did it and talked with them about it later. I wanted to do one on my own, and it felt great.”

Frances Fisher, Francesca’s mother, was also part of the film. However, the duo did not appear in any scenes together. “This is the first time that I was on a film and then she came on after, rather than her being in a film and I join as her baby. I was probably the least experienced actor, and everyone was just so welcoming and really nurturing to that.”

While speaking about working in a desert, Francesca recalled, “It was pretty intense with the heat and the costumes, and we couldn’t wash them because they were supposed to look aged, so after about 3 weeks of being in the same layers it was just gross. It was fun and part of the experience though. Normally if you’re uncomfortable or too hot you go get a water and sit in a trailer, but that was so not the case with this one.”

Francesa went on to note that she and the rest of the cast just dealt with the production’s conditions. “No one really went to the trailers. We just hung out – no texting, Tweeting, Instagramming. I think it made it really special. There were no distractions.”

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