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Clint Eastwood- A Star is Born

April 7, 2007

Scene 1: The hero is in disguise penetrating into a heavily guarded stronghold of the Nazis. The guard, asks the hero for his credentials. He coolly picks up his gun, from his briefcase, and shoots the guard dead.
Scene 2: The lone ranger cowboy rides onto the screen, with a cigar in his mouth. The stunning background score by Ennio Morricone, sets the pulses racing.

Scene 1 is from Where Eagles Dare and Scene 2 is from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly . Two iconic movies for people of my generation who grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s. And for us, the definition of cool was the man who starred in both the above movies “Clint Eastwood” . I must have watched Where Eagles Dare, more than a dozen times, just for the sake of Eastwood. Though Richard Burton had the more author backed part, Eastwood with his cool persona, and his merciless temperament, was our hero.

Most of us wanted to be like Eastwood, cool, lonely, riding on a horse. He was our hero and idol, during our growing up years. And today he still continues to be my idol, for his sheer versatility and brilliance as a director.
Eastwood was a B Movie star for quite some time, until this 1964 movie. Based on Akiro Kurosawa’s Yojimbu , and directed by Sergio Leone, A Fistful of Dollars , was the movie which turned his career. Eastwood played the Man with No Name here, where he plays a double game with the two rival families of the town, doing a double cross. It was a marked departure from the noble hero of previous Westerns, popularized by likes of John Wayne and Henry Fonda . It was also the first of the Dollars Trilogy and would begin what critics then derisively referred to as Sphagetti Westerns.

The next year saw Eastwood rising further with the second installment of the Dollar’s trilogy, For a Few Dollars More , where he co stars with Lee Van Cleef , in search of a wanted fugitive. The movie is famous for the whistling tune of Ennio Morricone . It was however the last installment of this trilogy, that would firmly catapult Eastwood to international fame, and make him an A list star.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, is a movie that totally turned the conventional Western on it’s head, and created a cult following of it’s own. Contrary to the noble hero, the lead character in this movies, was a loner, caring only for himself, and fighting to survive. Clint Eastwood’s cool, demeanour, with little dialogue, and the absolutely cold blooded way in which he dealt with his enemies, made him a rage among the audiences.

1968 would be a defining year for Clint, apart from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, he also appeared in another Western Hang Em High , where he played an innocent man seeking revenge.

In 1968, he further redefined, the concept of cool, with his turn as the laconic, Col Schaeffer , in that all time favorite, Where Eagles Dare . While Richard Burton had the meatier and more dramatic part, it was Clint Eastwood , who got the whistles, with his mean machine act. As he coolly went about killing the Germans without even batting an eyelid, audiences just loved it, and he was firmly a youth icon. The following years saw Eastwood trying to break away from his cool, tough guy image with varied roles. He co starred with Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon(1969), which was a Western with a musical backdrop. In 1970 he acted in Kelly Heroes , a comic adventure, with a World War II backdrop, where he costarred with Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland.
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