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Clint Eastwood

Every Clint Eastwood Western, Ranked Worst To Best

A name virtually synonymous with the Western genre, Clint Eastwood has starred in many all-time classic Western movies — but how do they rank from worst to best? With an acting and directing career spanning over half a century, Eastwood has contributed immensely to cinema with an expansive filmography covering everything from Spaghetti Westerns to Hollywood crime thrillers to sports dramas. What’s most impressive is how consistently great and well-regarded his films have been over the course of his multi-decade career, even as the actor-director continues making movies into his nineties.

Regardless of the variety of his films, Eastwood’s legacy is more or less firmly established in his foundation as a Western film actor. Aside from his uncredited roles in a few creature features, comedy-dramas, and cowboy flicks of the ’50s, Eastwood truly got his start as a ticket-selling actor with his iconic role as the Man With No Name in Sergio Leone’s famous Spaghetti Western A Fistful of Dollars (1964), the first of three films in Eastwood and Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. In honor their relationship, when Eastwood won his first Academy Award for 1992’s Unforgiven, he dedicated the movie to Leone.

Despite his universal recognition, few have taken the time to fully enumerate and appreciate his expansive filmography. While the actor has many non-Western classics under his belt — most notably the Dirty Harry series, Play Misty For Me (1971), and Gran Torino (2008) — this list is focusing exclusively on his Western feature films. Here they are, ranked worst to best:

12. Ambush At Cimarron Pass (1958)

After a few small (largely uncredited) supporting roles in cowboy flicks of the ’50s and acquiring some name recognition with his role in the Rawhide TV series, Eastwood earned his first major Western movie role with 1958’s Ambush at Cimarron Pass. Directed by Jodie Copelan, Ambush at Cimarron Pass follows a small Army patrol unit who reluctantly teams up with a band of former Confederate soldiers after being attacked by a group of Native Americans. Described by Eastwood as “probably the lousiest Western ever made,” the film almost discouraged Eastwood from acting altogether after he saw the movie in theaters, after which he reportedly turned to his wife and lamented, “I’m going to quit. I gotta go back to school, I got to start doing something with my life.”

11. Joe Kidd (1972)

Directed by John Sturges, Joe Kidd is a story about a disaffected ex-bounty hunter named Joe Kidd (Eastwood) hired by a wealthy landowner (Robert Duvall) to capture the Mexican revolutionary bandito Luis Chama (John Saxon). Taking advantage of Eastwood’s recent success with the previous year’s Dirty Harry, Joe Kidd typecasts Eastwood as a law-breaking do-gooder whose private moral compass transcends that of the law. Unfortunately, Joe Kidd relies too much on Eastwood’s reputation and fails to fully flesh out his character within the film’s own story, resulting in what feels like one of Eastwood’s blander Western romps. Even so, the character Joe Kidd has earned a spot in Eastwood’s broad mosaic of iconic Western heroes.

10. Paint Your Wagon (1969)

A Western musical based on the Broadway play of the same name, Paint Your Wagon (1969) places Eastwood in a film genre (musical) that was somewhat alienating to the typical Eastwood fan at this point in his career. Set in a mining camp in the California Gold Rush, Paint Your Wagon follows the story of Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin), a prospector who happens upon a wrecked wagon containing Pardner (Eastwood) and Pardner’s dead brother. After discovering gold while burying Pardner’s brother, the two team up in the newly sprung “No Name City,” a tent city of gold miners whose loneliness drive them to compete over female companionship. Despite being a box office hit, the film was poorly received by critics — one potential reason being that Eastwood did his own singing.

9. Honkytonk Man (1982)

Speaking of music, Honkytonk Man features Eastwood as Red, a country and Western singer who’s dying of tuberculosis during the Great Depression. Endearingly, the film co-stars Eastwood with his son Kyle Eastwood — brother of Scott Eastwood — who plays Red’s young nephew Whit, an aspiring musician who idolizes his uncle and accompanies him on a long road trip to Red’s final performance in Nashville. One part road trip movie, another part coming-of-age journey — Honkytonk Man is one of Eastwood’s more unconventionally heartwarming Western films.

8. Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970)

The second of Eastwood’s five collaborations with Dirty Harry director Don Siegel, the American-Mexican film Two Mules For Sister Sara sees Eastwood co-starring with Shirley MacLaine who respectively play gunslinger Hogan and the young nun Sara. After rescuing Sara from being raped by a group of men, Hogan and Sara escape to nearby encampment of Mexican revolutionaries, who hire Hogan to help them resist the invading French army. However, unbecoming of a nun, Sara turns out to be far more foul-mouthed and all-around vulgar in spirit than first impressions indicated, suggesting to Hogan that he’s got much more than a simple damsel in distress on his hands.

7. Hang ‘Em High (1968)

Directed by Ted Post, Hang ‘Em High is a 1968 American revisionist Western film starring Eastwood as Jed Cooper, an man who survives and escapes a lynching he didn’t deserve. Subsequently hired by local lawmen as a federal marshal, Jed is granted a new lease on life, albeit with one caveat: he can’t seek revenge against those who attempted to have him wrongfully lynched. Of course, this being an Eastwood movie, Jed defies these orders when he learns that his tormentors are responsible for other crimes. At time of release, Hang ‘Em High was wildly successful, in terms of both box office sales and critical reception.

6. Pale Rider (1985)

Directed and produced by Eastwood, Pale Rider is an American fantasy Western starring Eastwood as the enigmatic “Preacher,” a figure of retributive justice who protects a small-town of gold miners against a violent band of thugs hired by local property owner Coy LaHood (Richard Dysart). Intending to claim the gold miners’ territory by force, LaHood’s plans are thwarted by Preacher, whose ghostly arrival and presence spell disaster for LaHood, as suggested by the film title’s apocalyptic association with the Book of Revelation, chapter 6, verse 8: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” Considering Eastwood’s thorough involvement in the movie, as director, producer, and actor, Pale Rider‘s success and artistically ambitious themes served as a marker of Eastwood’s drastic filmmaking improvements over the years.

5. High Plains Drifter (1973)

Like the Man With No Name of Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy, Eastwood plays a drifter with no name in High Plains Drifter, a 1973 American Western also directed by Eastwood. Wandering — or, rather, “drifting” — into a small miner town, the drifter with no name finds that his gun-slinging skills are in high demand, due to a band of criminals terrorizing the town. Unknown to the townspeople, however, they have a past history with the drifter, who has entered the town with a score to settle.

4. Cry Macho (2021)

A testament to Eastwood’s amazing persistence as a filmmaker, Cry Macho stars a 91-year-old Eastwood as Mike Milo, a retired Texan rodeo star hired by his former boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam) to rescue Polk’s son, Rafa (Eduardo Minett), from the boy’s alcoholic mother, Leta (Fernanda Urrejola), in Mexico. Unwilling to let her son go, Leta threatens Mike and assigns a group of henchmen to follow him out of Mexico. However, upon crossing Mexico back to America, Mike discovers Leta’s son snuck into his truck, allowing Mike (leveraging Eastwood’s iconic status) the opportunity to mentor Rafa on the true meaning of “macho” and what it means to truly be a man. Cry Macho is an earnest road trip movie, reminiscent of the coming-of-age journey in Honkytonk Man.

3. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

As the movie poster indicates, The Outlaw Josey Wales is a hot-blooded revenge tale about Josey Wales (Eastwood), a man who joins the Confederate Army to seek revenge against the Union soldiers who he watched murder his wife and child. After killing some of the men of Captain Terrill (Bill McKinney), Wales flees to Texas to start a new life for himself. However, the peace he tries to re-establish is quickly disturbed when a bounty placed on Wales’ head endangers both him and his new surrogate family. When initially released in 1976, The Outlaw Josey Wales was immediately hailed as an iconic American Western film, one that’s reflective of America’s deep, ancestral history and turbulent, post-Civil War destiny.

2. Unforgiven (1992)

Produced and directed by Eastwood, Unforgiven earned the legendary actor his first two Academy Awards and has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” If not for Cry Macho, Unforgiven would have been Eastwood’s last Western film, as vocally intended by Eastwood — and it would’ve been a high note for the man to end his Western film career on. The movie stars Eastwood as Will Munny, a gunslinger-turned-farmer who has long set his guns aside to focus on raising his children after the passing of their mother. However, when Munny’s old partner (Morgan Freeman) urges him out of retirement for one last job, Munny finds himself in trouble with the local sheriff (Gene Hackman), who disallows vigilantism in his town.

1. The Dollars Trilogy (1964 – 1968)

A three-for-one entry at the top spot, Leone’s classic Dollars Trilogy undoubtedly marks an early peak of Eastwood’s Western film career with his role as the iconic Man With No Name of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For A Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1968). With The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly leading the trio as perhaps the best of the Dollars Trilogy — if not the best Western overall, with even Quentin Tarantino ranking it as his all-time favorite — the Spaghetti Western films see Eastwood playing three variations of the Man With No Name who finds himself caught in the middle of longstanding bandit feuds, bounty hunting missions, and an epic journey through the desert for buried treasure. Despite opening to mixed critical reception, due to market uncertainty towards the Spaghetti Western genre, the Dollars Trilogy has since cemented Clint Eastwood as the premier Western movie actor — and one of the best overall actors of all-time.

Clint Eastwood

“I don’t like it when it’s dumb”: Yellowstone Star Kevin Costner Revealed He Hates Western Genre Despite Sharing Clint Eastwood’s Rare Record In Hollywood

Taking a look at the rear-view mirror in the journey of Hollywood, everyone remembers the good old days when Western films dominated not just the US, but the entire world. And leading that charge was the legendary Clint Eastwood, along with stars like Kevin Costner following close behind. To this day, the effect of those classic pieces of cinema can be felt.
Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner
In fact, when we take a look at Costner’s career in the industry, many will realize that it was the 1985 Western classic Silverado that brought him to the spotlight. In the later stage of his career, he won two Academy Awards for his film Dances with Wolves, something that Eastwood has also managed to achieve. But despite leaving an everlasting impression, it seems like he doesn’t love the genre for being dumb.
Kevin Costner Reveals That He Doesn’t Love The Western Genre Because It’s Dumb
Kevin Costner in a still from Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner in a still from Dances with Wolves
While he may have been forgotten for a while in the changing landscape of Hollywood, the fans of the classic Western genre of films will never forget the impact Kevin Costner made with his films in the category. Going toe-to-toe in this genre with the face of old-school Western films Clint Eastwood himself, the actor and director has proved why he’s a genius in this department.
But despite achieving the extremely rare accolade of directing one of the only four Western films to receive the Oscars, also including Unforgiven by the Dirty Harry star, Costner reveals that this genre may not be his favorite.
In a past interview with Good Morning America, the former Yellowstone star talked about how he was not a big fan of the Western genre, the reason being that most of the films produced in it are dumb and illogical. He says that there’s too much of a straight divide between good and bad without any substantial form of moral complexity.
On top of that, he calls out the genre for being somewhat illiterate but has the potential to become so much more than just an illustrious piece of history. He said:
“[western] have to be literate. It’s too much black hat, white hat…I won’t tolerate bad language, meaning literacy of a western on TV or in film. I hate it. I don’t like it when it’s dumb because there’s such great opportunity because the architecture of a western should be to actually frighten you sitting in the dark, watching something. ‘That could have just happened to me. And I don’t know what I would’ve done’”
Thus, his new and unique outlook on the filmmaking of a Western film is what drives him to only make the best that the genre has ever seen.
What Was Dances With Wolves About?
A still from Dances with Wolves A still from Dances with Wolves
Widely considered to be one of the best films in the history of this genre, recognized by being awarded two Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director for Costner, Dances with Wolves may be Western filmmaking done right.
The film tells the tale of Civil War soldier Lieutenant John J. Dunbar, a man who is posted at Fort Hays, where he meets and develops a relationship with the native Lakota Indian tribe. Mesmerized by their lifestyle and simple outlook on the world, he soon finds himself being welcomed into their clan. But when Union Army soldiers come to their land with the agenda of uprooting the tribe, Dunbar has to choose a side.
Dances with Wolves, streaming on Prime Video.

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Clint Eastwood

“He was too expensive”: Clint Eastwood Starred in ‘Dollars Trilogy’ After Director Couldn’t Afford Another Oscar Winning Actor With $15000 Salary

In today’s day and age, Clint Eastwood’s name is one that echoes with terms such as legendary and brilliant. His ability to be expressive as an actor without having to say too many dialogues was one admired by many. Not only his skills as an actor, but being a talented director helped build his reputation in the best way possible.
Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
During his days as an actor, there were many films offered to him. Some he let go of, others he grabbed as soon as he could. One of his most iconic works is the Dollars Trilogy with director Sergio Leone. Despite the massive amount of fame that he got from it, there was an unfortunate yet slight chance that Eastwood would have lost out on the role because Leone wanted another actor altogether.
Sergio Leone’s Initial Choice for His Trilogy was not Clint Eastwood
One of Clint Eastwood’s biggest movie trilogies, the Dollars trilogy was something that came along his career, giving him a boost the actor never knew he needed. The year 1964 saw a rise in his fame from then on. However, as per BBC (via Farout Magazine), Eastwood was not Sergio Leone’s first choice for the film.
James Coburn
“I really wanted James Coburn, but he was too expensive,” Leone stated. “The Italian cinema is very poor. We got Clint for $15,000, Coburn wanted $25,000.”
The director revealed that because of the budgetary limitations that they had, there was no way possible for him to get James Coburn for the role. The actor wanted $10,000 more than what Eastwood had settled on, making it an absolutely impossible choice for them to hire Coburn. He elaborated on how being in the Italian cinema at that time did not give him flexibility with the budget. Due to this, Eastwood became his ideal choice and that in turn benefitted his career.
Clint Eastwood Almost did not Join Sergio Leone
Clint Eastwood’s career has been a rising climb for decades now. One of the reasons for this is his credible fame because of the Dollars trilogy. However, there was a slight chance that the actor would have given up on the role. According to a BBC documentary (via Farout Magazine), the actor was hesitant about saying yes.
Clint EastwoodClint Eastwood
 “I was doing Rawhide, and I was coming to a hiatus,” Eastwood remembered. “I took three months off, usually around February, March and April every year, and my agent in Los Angeles called me up and asked me if I’d like to go to Europe and make an Italian, German, Spanish co-production of a remake of a Japanese film [Yojimbo] in the plains of Spain.”
The actor/director stated that he was asked to make a film in a rather peculiar setting right after he was coming back from a three-month-long break. His reply to the same had been a rejection. In the end, he warmed up to the idea.

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Clint Eastwood

“I got to take her, and I still remember that”: Clint Eastwood Had A Personal Reason To Cherish His Oscar Win Despite His Anti-Semitic Comments Against Academy

Clint Eastwood is a legendary figure in Hollywood, not only because of acting prowess but also because he is a brilliant storyteller. From countless nominations to multiple wins, the Dirty Harry star has had enough accolades to his name, proving that he is every bit deserving of the fame he has received all these years. However, despite his immense fame, the actor has said some very concerning things in the past.
Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood
Years ago he had made some alleged antisemitic remarks about the Academy Awards committee but when he won his first Oscar, the actor-director accepted and enjoyed the experience for a very personal reason.
Clint Eastwood’s Reason For Cherishing His First Oscar
eastwood with his late motherEastwood with his late mother
Also Read:  “He was too expensive”: Clint Eastwood Starred in ‘Dollars Trilogy’ After Director Couldn’t Afford Another Oscar-Winning Actor With $15000 Salary
It has been decades since Clint Eastwood made his debut in Hollywood and ever since then he has been unstoppable. A recipient of numerous accolades and maker of multiple successful movies, the actor-director once had expressed his reservations about Academy Awards, even before he won his first-ever nomination.
While certain people labeled him as anti-semitic because of his Academy-related comments, he went on to get his first-ever nomination just sometime later at the age of 62. It was his movie Unforgiven that gave him an Oscar each for Best Picture and Best Director and a nomination for Best Actor.
Despite his earlier comments, the actor enjoyed his first nomination and win for a very personal reason which was being able to take his mother Ruth Wood to the ceremony (via Parade).
“It was nice, I guess. The nicest thing was that I got to take my mother to the Oscars. I’d been successful as a movie director and actor but not as successful in that kind of hoopla. So that was fun. I got to take her, and I still remember that. The trophies are tucked away in the house somewhere.”
Stated the director when asked if he even cared at that point about awards like the Oscars for he was already a pretty successful filmmaker at that point.
What Alleged Anti-Semitic Comments Did Clint Eastwood Make?
Clint Eastwood in UnforgivenClint Eastwood in Unforgiven
Clint Eastwood was 62 when he received his first Oscar nomination. Even though he lacked an Academy Award before, he was already a successful filmmaker and actor, having acted and directed several fan-loved movies.
However, before he ever won or was nominated for an Oscar, the actor was said to have stated in the book Clint: The Life and Legend of Clint Eastwood, a biography of his life written by Patrick McGilligan,
“I will never win an Oscar and do you know why? First of all, because I’m not Jewish. Secondly, because I make too much money for those old farts in the Academy. Thirdly, and most importantly, because I don’t give a f**k.”
His comments were understood by many as anti-semitic. However, things began to change for soon he went on to earn multiple Oscar nominations in the subsequent years after his first win with Unforgiven.
Unforgiven can be streamed on HBO Max.

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