When composing a list of the most manly of men who have appeared on the silver screen during the past century, there are many names that come to mind. Prominent among them, and near the top by any measure, is Clint Eastwood. In front of the camera, he has given us memorable characters as diverse as the hard nosed Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry), the penultimate hardass Thomas Highway (Heartbreak Ridge), and the grumpiest of grumpy old men, Walt Kowalski (Gran Torino).
I can’t even name you his most iconic character, as despite appearing in three films, he’s regarded as The Man With No Name. Whether you call him Blondie or Joe, Eastwood personified the Western Films of the 50s and 60s, appearing in some of the most entertaining and highly regarded Westerns of all time.
In celebration of his 35 years of collaboration with Warner Bros, the production company has released The Ultimate Eastwood Experience, a documentary on his career with the WB, in conjunction with the Sterling Publisher’s book Clint: A Retrospective by Richard Schickel. And that’s just on the non-fiction front. Continuing the celebration, the WB is also releasing Essential Eastwood sets, including his Director’s Collection and the Action Pack. If you’ve got the cash, you can also buy the 35 Films, 35 Years collection which contains, you guessed it, thirty-five of his movies.
We as a culture love our movie stars. Perhaps it’s because we can live vicariously through them, or we’re just looking for role models outside of our small circles. Whatever the reason, Clint Eastwood has had a great effect on many people. The characters he’s most often associated with are generally quiet, stern men of action. You can’t picture an Eastwood character talking behind someone’s back in an office or making some silly sounds while trying to impress the girl down the street. You can picture him saying what needs said and defending his beliefs. Sure, they’re just movies, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them.
Further, in the modern age of celebrity, we hear so much about over the top personalities. Adults behaving like children, crashing cars, doing drugs, complaining about everything and shouting their opinion everywhere, always on the front page. Whatever Eastwood does in his personal life has remained there. Assuredly he’s not perfect; no one is. But he’s never advertised himself or pushed any aspect of his private life onto anyone else. Much like his soft-spoken, stern action hero characters, the real Eastwood doesn’t make a spectacle of himself. In modern times, that’s respectable, if not expected.
If you were looking to model yourself on a fictional character, you could do worse than one Eastwood has brought to the screen. Personally, I’ve always found the Western ‘hero’ to be the one most worthy of emulation. The cowboy is perhaps the iconic image of America, at least in the past half-century. He embodies all that is worthwhile. Independence, strength, a quiet calm, and the ability to live on his own and face down seemingly insurmountable odds from either other men or nature. Whether Eastwood was playing the enigmatic Man with No Name, who lived in a world of gray but was still mostly honorable and good, or the reformed Frank Munny, he portrayed a strong character who overcame great odds and always ended up on the side of justice.
Whether you fondly recall Eastwood films or you’re just looking to find out more about the man and his films, Clint: A Retrospective is a fantastic tome to start with. Beginning with a foreword by the man himself, the book then profiles his films decade by decade, with insight, information, and plenty of pictures. This book could serve as a checklist for movies you need to see if you want hair on your chest.
The companion documentary is a nice, short look into some of Eastwood’s film and features plenty of footage of the man himself as he digs through his own past, talking about his movies and going through a vast warehouse filled to the brim with costumes and wardrobes from his movies. At 80 years old, Eastwood is as sharp as ever, identifying bits of wardrobe more accurately than the costume supervisor of the films they’re talking about.
Clint is worth owning for the pictures alone. It’s a perfect coffee table book, one that has something interesting on every page. For his films, both those he acted in and those he directed, Eastwood is one celebrity who is worthy of the admiration we give to him. While I can’t say that he changed my life, he definitely inspired my career choices, fostered my love of Westerns, and personified characters on screen that taught us what it is to be a man of silent strength and conviction. He also entertained the hell out of me and helped get my respect of guns started.
To celebrate this man among men, we’re giving away an Intro to Eastwood pack. One lucky winner will receive a copy of Clint: A Retrospective, the most excellent coffee table book, and a second will receive the Essential Eastwood Director’s Collection on DVD which includes four films: Letters from Iwo Jima, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, and his amazing Unforgiven. All you have to do is be a subscriber to Primer! Enter the email address that you’re subscribed with in the form below and tell us whether you’d like the book or the DVD set. That’s it! The contest ends on 11/22.
Do yourself a favor and take a deeper look into the man and the characters he’s created. Undoubtedly you’ll find some aspect, some facet of personality, that you can apply to your own life or at least realize that being an Alpha man doesn’t mean you’re loud and flashy. It’s all about how you carry yourself, and Eastwood carries himself above much of the fray.