Connect with us

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood: Why His Early Westerns Like ‘Fistful of Dollars’ Were Made in Italy and Spain

Back in the 1960s, Hollywood star Clint Eastwood traveled to Europe to star in A Fistful of Dollars, which was a breakthrough role for the actor.

After numerous bit roles on television and in movies, he earned his first major television role on Rawhide in 1958. As character Rowdy Yates, Eastwood and the rest of the cast had years of success with the show. However, the actor grew to despise his character’s clean-cut persona, and he wanted to branch out.

Enter Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone, who in the early ’60s was a relatively unknown director. He signed Eastwood to be the star of his upcoming movie for $15,000 for 11 weeks of filming. In addition, Eastwood would earn a Mercedes-Benz car upon completion of filming. Eastwood later spoke about his transition from a popular western on TV to A Fistful of Dollars.

“In Rawhide I did get awfully tired of playing the conventional white hat. The hero who kisses old ladies and dogs and was kind to everybody. I decided it was time to be an antihero,” Eastwood recalled.

Neither the director nor his star actor could’ve envisioned the success of the film. Each of their careers took off after its release. Additionally, Clint Eastwood broke out of his television mold, just like he wanted to. In fact, Eastwood played an important part in creating his mysterious antihero character’s distinctive visual style.

The movie became a defining film of what came to be known as Italian Westerns or Spaghetti Westerns. Eastwood became a huge star in Italy, and Leone rehired the actor to lead two more films that would make up The Man With No Name trilogy. They include A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966).

The Reason Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood and the Rest of the Cast Filmed in Italy and Spain

Most of the Italian Westerns filmed in the ’60s and ’70s were created on extremely low budgets. To aid in keeping the costs at a minimum, directors utilized Cinecittà studios for filming – a huge 99-acre film studio in Rome, Italy. They also used geographic regions in Europe that mirrored those of the western United States. This was key considering that’s where the western-themed movies were supposed to take place.

Instead of shipping the cast and crew overseas, Italian Western filmmakers used various locations in southern Italy and Spain. Most of the films take place in dry landscapes and deserts of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico.

Therefore, Leone filmed Clint Eastwood and the rest of the cast in Spain for most outdoor scenes. The Tabernas Desert in the Province of Almería in southeastern Spain was the perfect alternative for their trilogy. Not only did it parallel the western settings, but it saved tons of money, which was often scarce to begin with.

By the time the trilogy of films reached America in 1967, all three movies became a box office hit. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly alone made more than $25 million and Clint Eastwood officially became a major film star.

The success of Leone’s movies created a whole new subgenre of westerns, which were heavily copied around that time. The popularity of the films allowed the director to finally create his magnum opus: Once Upon a Time in the West. With a much larger budget, and a star-studded cast (Eastwood not included), Leone’s epic 1968 masterpiece was the peak of Italian Western filmmaking.

By the mid-1970s, the subgenre had faded away almost as quickly as it came about. However, Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood’s work still impacts filmmakers to this very day. Look no further than Quentin Tarantino’s body of work, and Italian Westerns’ influence on modern cinema is clearly still prominent.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Clint Eastwood

How Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry Adapted The Real-Life Zodiac Case

Dirty Harry is known for giving us one of the most legendary cops in cinema history, but all that big-screen fun was inspired by the real-life case of the Zodiac Killer. One of a handful of films responsible for propelling iconic actor-turned-director Clint Eastwood to stardom, Dirty Harry has become a paragon of the action-thriller genre. Its gritty, neo-noir style was a hit with audiences in 1971 but many had no idea that both the killer and cop drew inspiration from an infamous string of real-world murders.

The Zodiac Killer terrorized Northern California with a series of murders in the late 1960s. Despite only being active for a few years, the killer’s cryptic imagery and taunting style captivated the public consciousness for decades to come. Dirty Harry, which kicked off Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry movie franchise, took inspiration from both the Zodiac himself and the real-world detective who pursued him. While the overall resemblance is loose, everything from the Zodiac’s name to the nature of their crimes had some influence on the film’s plot. Even the real-life serial killer’s bizarre aesthetic helped shape Dirty Harry’s wicked antagonist. If one compares the movie’s fictional killer to the real-life Zodiac, it’s crystal clear that this resemblance is more than just a coincidence. With all these similarities, how exactly did the movie adapt the Zodiac murders?

The film’s killer took many direct cues from the Zodiac Killer. Perhaps the most obvious connection is the name of the killer Clint Eastwood’s character chases being Scorpio. Moving from the name Zodiac to one based on a specific astrological sign is more of a hop than a leap. But the similarities between the real-life murderer and the movie serial killer don’t end there. Both are barbarous killers that appear to draw pleasure from playing a twisted game of cat and mouse with the police. At one point, Scorpio is depicted wearing a mask, a tactic famously employed by the real-world Zodiac during his crimes. Dirty Harry‘s Scorpio even shared his stomping ground with the Zodiac, with both operating around San Francisco.

The crimes themselves also took inspiration from the Zodiac. The real-life killer was notorious for taunting the police with a series of bizarre letters during his reign of horror. Scorpio copies this trait with a string of notes that appear to even imitate the Zodiac Killer’s handwriting. Dirty Harry‘s thrilling climax, wherein Scorpio hijacks a school bus, was inspired by a threat expressed in one of the serial killer’s real-life letters. Fortunately, this fantasy never played out in reality, but the similarity between the Zodiac Killer’s real-world crimes and those perpetrated by Scorpio bear an undeniable similarity.

Dirty Harry was clearly inspired by the Zodiac killings. Harry Callahan himself is said to have been loosely based on Dave Toschi, a detective from the San Francisco Francisco Police Department who pursued the Zodiac. Toschi’s signature style is also said to have been the model for Steve McQueen’s no-nonsense cop in Bullitt. David Fincher’s Zodiac even depicts Toschi watching Dirty Harry in a nod to the connection. Ultimately, whether one is more compelled by the movie’s dogged cop or its vicious killer, it’s undeniable that Dirty Harry took major inspiration from the chilling true story of the Zodiac Killer.

Continue Reading

Clint Eastwood

Meryl Streep’s Devil Wears Prada Villain Has a Surprising Real-Life Inspiration

The Devil Wears Prada is an unsuspecting comedy-drama that was released in 2006. Starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep, the film’s most memorable performance undoubtedly comes from Streep’s turn as the film’s antagonist, Miranda Priestly. From the moment she shows up on the screen, her presence is as intimidating as it is magnetic, but what many fans don’t know is that her portrayal was inspired by one of Hollywood’s most famous stars.

The film follows Hathaway’s Andy Sachs, an aspiring journalist who has gotten the job of being Priestly’s personal assistant for the high fashion magazine, Runway. At first, she doesn’t acclimate well to the lifestyle, but after being judged and ridiculed by her peers, she decides to join the crowd and fight to get ahead. However, as time goes on, it becomes clear that she has succeeded at the price of her metaphorical soul. Priestly, who was often at the center of Andy’s decisions, never had to do much to get her way but proved that she knew how to control a room and even a person.

In an interview with Streep, it was revealed that the reason Priestly was scary in the manner she is portrayed is because she took vocal cues from Clint Eastwood. An iconic actor at the time, Eastwood is best known for his roles in films like Dirty Harry and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. His gruff exterior has helped set him apart from his peers for decades and was something that Streep took note of in her portrayal of Priestly.

According to her, “The voice I got from Clint Eastwood. He never, ever, ever raises his voice and everyone has to lean in to listen, and he is automatically the most powerful person in the room.” Eastwood has always been a soft-spoken actor who never exerted himself verbally in a performance. Rather than hinder his characters, it actually helped, as it showed that he carried confidence into the roles, making the character appear highly capable. In The Devil Wears Prada, Streep does the same thing, but instead of a desert road, it’s a small office.

In every scene she appears in, Priestly never raises her voice. Instead, she speaks quietly enough to demand the attention of everyone within earshot. In doing so, it’s clear that she commands the room with little to no effort, and because of the status she carries, it’s integral to listen to everything she says. However, knowing she could speak more clearly and at a higher volume also shows her controlling qualities as she wants the attention and respect that comes with it.

The Devil Wears Prada is a unique film as it isn’t totally a drama or a comedy. As a blend, it becomes something else entirely that transcends the setting. Aside from the fashion, it’s a story about control and how easy it is to lose identity while trying to fit in. It’s also about masks and hiding the reality from people to maintain an image. However, because of performances like Streep’s, the film remains unforgettable. With the help of Clint Eastwood, Streep has been able to bring to life one of cinema’s most unlikely “villains.”

Continue Reading

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is a Triple Threat in Upcoming Adventure Film, Cry Macho

Actor and director Clint Eastwood has chosen his next directorial effort.

According to Variety, Eastwood will both direct and star in a film entitled Cry Macho. Based on the novel by N. Richard Nash, Nick Schneck is penning the screenplay while Eastwood, Tim Moore, Al Rudder and Jessica Mier all serve as producers. The project is set up at Warner Bros.

The project tells the story of an elderly horse-trainer who comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme by way of kidnapping a child in Mexico City and bringing the kid to his father, who is also the trainer’s former boss.

Cry Macho has gone through numerous iterations over the years. Eastwood had planned to direct and star in it back in the 1980s but opted to do The Dead Pool instead. More recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger and director Brad Furman were lined up to do a version of Cry Macho in 2011 that never materialized.

Clint Eastwood began his career as an actor, garnering an iconic stature for his performances as The Man With No Name in Westerns like The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. In the decades since, he’s headlined and directed a wide array of acclaimed dramas, including two Best Picture winners, Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.

Continue Reading

Trending