Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood has been gracing our screens since the 1960s, and since then he’s become an established household name, but his directorial debut didn’t come until 1971 with the tightly wound psychological thriller, Play Misty for Me. Since then, his successful directorial career has spread across five decades.
As we impatiently wait for the release of Eastwood’s latest, highly anticipated true-story thriller, American Sniper, we take a look at our top ten favourite Eastwood-directed titles.
PLAY MISTY FOR ME (1971)
Eastwood’s directorial debut, this disturbing psychological thriller tells the dark story of a radio DJ who is stalked by an obsessive female fan after a brief fling takes a deadly turn.
Premiering at the San Francisco Film Festival, the film was a success both financially and critically. Although not meeting with the acclaim that Psycho achieved, the film managed to place Eastwood in the category of serious Director.
In addition to its praise, co-star Jessica Walter earned a nomination for Best Actress in a Drama in the 1972 Golden Globe Awards.
GRAN TORINO (2008)
After a four year break from acting, Eastwood got back in front of the camera for a starring role in Gran Torino, which he also directed.
The drama stars Eastwood as a disgruntled, recently widowed Korean war veteran and his growing relationship with his neighbours, a Hmong-American family, struggling with their young son’s involvement with a local gang.
Generally highly acclaimed, both from critics and viewers, the film was a great commercial success, grossing almost $270 million worldwide and becoming Eastwood’s most successful film to date. The film won numerous awards and was named as one of the 10 best films of 2008 by the American Film Institute.
PALE RIDER (1985)
Back on his horse and doing what he does best, Eastwood starred in and directed this classic western hit.
Playing a mysterious preacher who protects a village from a mining company, this feature became the highest grossing western of the 1980s and remains a favourite amongst western fans.
Making a huge profit of $41.5 million against a modest budget of $7 million, along with great critical acclaim, this film remains one of Eastwood’s finest pieces of work.
MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)
Exceptionally powerful, this sports-drama film sees Eastwood teaming up with Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman in a moving story about Maggie (Swank), a woman determined to become a professional boxer with the help of her hardened and troubled trainer, Frankie (Eastwood).
After initially struggling to find a studio to put up the money for the film, Eastwood finally gained funding for the project and begun shooting. After a brief period on limited release, the film went wide and became a quick box office hit, grossing over $200m and playing at cinemas for over six months.
The film was highly acclaimed worldwide and earned Eastwood an Oscar for Best Director, along with the Academy Award for Best Picture and numerous other nominations, awards and accolades for his co-stars and co-filmmakers.
MYSTIC RIVER (2003)
In a break from acting, Eastwood directed mystery drama film Mystic River in 2003, which stars a fantastic ensemble cast including Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbens, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Haden, Laura Linney and Emmy Rossum.
The film, which was based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, tells the disturbing story of three men who were childhood friends until one was abducted and sexually abused by a man impersonating a police officer. After the incident the boys drifted apart, but years later find themselves forced back together when tragedy strikes yet again.
Eastwood received great acclaim for the release, with Penn’s performance being unanimously praised. Garnering six Academy Awards nominations with two wins.
Stepping into the world of non-fiction, Bird, gave Eastwood the opportunity to tell the biographical story of the short and troubled life of jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker.
Creating a moving montage of key moments in the musician’s life, Eastwood pulled together a powerful feature that met with great audience appreciation.
The film earned leading actor, Forest Whitaker, much praise and numerous awards, including Best Actor at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe nomination, while the film met with additional award success, including the Academy Award win for Best Sound.
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (1995)
Showing us once more that Eastwood ‘s talents are extremely versatile, and by no means limited to the action genre, The Bridges of Madison County allowed him to show us his abilities in the romantic genre too.
Based on Robert James Waller’s best-selling novel of the same name, this moving drama tells the story of a married mother (Meryl Streep) who has a brief but life changing affair with a photographer (Eastwood). After her death, her children discover the secret she kept to herself her entire life, and the story impacts their lives more than they expect.
The film was a great hit and earned Streep an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
Unforgiven saw Eastwood once again donning his cowboy hat as he starred in another successful Western alongside Hollywood greats Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman and Richard Harris.
Eastwood plays William Munny – a dark and aging outlaw who had given up killing in favour of farming. Years later, he reluctantly takes on one grim and violent last job.
The film has been highly praised over the years and was the third Western to have won the Oscar for Best Picture. In addition, the film earned itself another 3 Academy Awards, and is still preserved in the United States National Film Registry on account of its cultural significance.
THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976)
Set during and after the American Civil War, this Western classic tells the story of a Missouri farmer with a vendetta against the Union soldiers who murdered his family.
Adapted from Forrest Carter’s novel, The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales, the movie met with enormous praise critically, and many have called the production a Western masterpiece.
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for its score and is also preserved in the United States National Film Registry. Complimented for its historical accuracy and for a dark and moving performance, the film remains one of the top films to watch for Western fans.
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (2006)
Shot back to back with Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers, which depicts the story of the battle of Iwo Jima from an American perspective, this moving war film tells the same story from the Japanese side.
The film received immense critical acclaim and outshined its American companion at the box office. It was named the best film of 2006 by the National Board of Review and was nominated and won numerous accolades during awards season.
The film was a huge success in Japan, ranking at number 1 for five weeks – a tough feat for an American-made Japanese war film shot almost entirely in Japanese.
AMERICAN SNIPER (2015)
Eastwood’s latest directorial work, American Sniper tells the true story of the United States Navy Seal Chris Kyle – labelled the most lethal sniper in Navy history.
The film takes a human look at Kyle’s life with stand-out performances by lead Bradley Cooper as Kyle, and Sienna Miller as Taya Renae Kyle, his wife. Fast paced and moving, and with lots of buzz surrounding it already, we are very excited to see this at cinemas soon.
AMERICAN SNIPER IS COMING TO UK CINEMAS 16 JANUARY