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Updated: June 4, 2010 19:36 IST

A name to reckon with

K. S. Rajgopal
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LEGEND: The iconic Clint Eastwood is now 80 and still going strong.
AFP LEGEND: The iconic Clint Eastwood is now 80 and still going strong.

The iconic Clint Eastwood is now 80 and still going strong.

I first discovered Clint Eastwood when, as a 14 year-old, I watched a movie called ‘Coogan's Bluff.' Clint was just making a foray into films after doing a string of episodes for the TV series, ‘Rawhide'. In ‘Coogan's Bluff,' he was young and devilishly handsome, playing the role of a Texan Deputy Marshall on the trail of a hoodlum.

The movie, which shifts from the initial location of Texas to New York, is memorable for its climactic motorbike chase through New York City. I was all admiration for Clint and instinctively felt that he was destined for fame in Hollywood.

Today at 80, Clint Eastwood stands tall as a popular actor-director, who has acted in or directed films of varied genres such as the ‘Spaghetti Westerns,' war, cop films (namely the Dirty Harry series) and even comedies. He also has several award-winning films to his credit.

The tough loner

Clint seemed custom-made to play the tough loner (as he has done in many of the movies). Take his looks, for example. Tall, lean and muscular, he has a craggycountenance and his ‘crow's feet' (wrinkles) spreads from the corner of the eye down to his jaw when he smiles or grimaces, which the female members of the audience find very appealing.

Thanks to the ‘Spaghetti Westerns’, his reputation as the laconic, tough guy grew. It was in the series of this genre that he became an icon, playing the ‘man with no name’.

One still remembers the famous civil war sequence in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ in which Clint, smouldering cigar clamped in his jaws, walks at a slow, deliberate, measured pace through a street, six-gun in each hand, disposing of his armed enemies (perched on the roofs on either side of the street) one by one, coolly, without a trace of emotion, while Enrico Morricone’s tantalising music serves as the background score.

That indeed was the quintessential Clint — unruffled, cool, no matter what the odds, and that was his unique selling proposition. After the ‘Spaghetti Westerns’ came the ‘Dirty Harry’ series, in which he plays the maverick San Francisco plainclothes police Inspector Harry Callahan, whose methods in dealing with situations and hunting down criminals make for interesting and entertaining viewing.

He popularised the .45 magnum handgun in the series with his famous “make my day” statement, which, among other things, turned him into a cult figure. Beginning his acting career primarily with small uncredited film roles and television appearances, his career now spans more than 50 years.

Clint Eastwood has acted in several television series, most notable is ‘Rawhide.' His role in the eight-season series led to leading roles in ‘A Fistful of Dollars,' ‘For a Few Dollars More,' and ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. Clint has appeared in over 55 films, including ‘Hang ‘em High’, ‘Escape from Alcatraz’, ‘The Bridges of Madison County’, and ‘Gran Torino’.

The composer

Clint started directing in 1971, and in 1982, his debut as a producer began with two films, ‘Firefox' and ‘Honkytonk Man’. Clint has also contributed music to his films, either through performing, writing, or composing.

Clint has been a primary character in two film franchises: as the ‘man with no name’ in the ‘Dollars’ Trilogy and as Harry Callahan in the ‘Dirty Harry’ series. Other notable roles include The Stranger in ‘High Plains Drifter’, Philo Beddoe in ‘Every Which Way but Loose’ and its sequel ‘Any Which Way You Can’, Preacher in ‘Pale Rider’, and Frankie Dunn in ‘Million Dollar Baby’.

Clint's latest project, the film, ‘Invictus’, premiered in December 2009. He began shooting for the next film, ‘Hereafter’, from October 2009. He has received multiple awards and nominations for his work in films such as ‘Unforgiven’, ‘Mystic River’, and ‘Million Dollar Baby’, among others. These include the Academy Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and People's Choice Awards. Films that Clint has acted in have grossed a total of more than $1.67 billion domestically, with an average of $37 million per film.

As he has just turned 80, it's time to pay a tribute to Clint — one cool dude!

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Clint Eastwood at 80: a legendary actorApril 26, 2010

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