Celebrating Clint Eastwood – And One Incredible Year For Film!
All year long, I am celebrating some of the greatest films of the 1970’s, and thanks to Clint Eastwood, I can highlight three of his films from just one year!
Clint has, over his career, had many incredible films – beginning with his “man with no name” character from early iconic westerns like this:
Eastwood became an accomplished Director as well, with classic films like his Oscar-winning Best Picture winners “Million Dollar Baby” and “Unforgiven” among many others:
In 1971, Eastwood’s acting career slammed full on into his directing debut, and along with his close friend Director Don Siegel, he made three films that are, as a triple bill, a cinephiles dream come true.
One was a smash hit, one was a cult classic, and one was a roadmap that “Fatal Attraction” followed years later…let’s begin with one of the greatest action thrillers ever made:
“Dirty Harry! “
Eastwood teamed up with Director Siegel on this gritty action classic. San Francisco faces the terror of a maniac known as Scorpio – who kills innocent people and demands the city pay him a ransom to stop him from killing again.
Here is the gritty trailer:
Against this straightforward plot, Director Siegel and Eastwood told a story that was controversial and polarizing – it was a time of police brutality and anti-war protests. The film takes a strong view that police brutality is warranted because the “system” favors criminals over victims. It was, and still is, a polarizing argument played out in the film….no more so than in the early iconic scene when Callahan taunts a bleeding criminal…after having his hot dog lunch interrupted…
“DO YOU FEEL LUCKY, PUNK?“
It’s one of the most iconic scenes in movie history – when Harry disrupts a bank robbery and shoots one of the bad guys, leading to this legendary dialogue:
That scene establishes Harry’s personality and anti-establishment attitude…that said, the film is also very funny early on, when Dirty Harry explains to the Mayor why he shot a man who was going to rape a woman. The Mayor wanted to know how Harry could have known what his intent was:
Harry: “Well, when an adult male is chasing a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard. That’s my policy.”
The Mayor: “Intent? How did you establish that?”
Harry: “When a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher’s knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn’t out collecting for the Red Cross!”
Harry then dramatically walks out of the room…there’s a pause, then they cut to the Mayor, who says:
“He’s got a point.”
Another great scene has Harry using a fire department ladder to be taken up five stories and rescue a suicide jumper.
According to terrific trivia on IMDB, Clint Eastwood directed the scene. However, it was said he directed the scene because Director Don Siegel was ill. This is inaccurate. Siegel was indeed ill, and wasn’t on the set, but Eastwood had always been scheduled to direct that scene, due to the difficult logistics of getting the actors, director, camera-man and sound-man all together on the top of a small ledge. In the shooting schedule, 6 nights had been set aside for the shooting of the scene. Eastwood told the studio he could shoot it in two nights. In the end, he shot the entire scene in one night!
Here is that terrific scene:
“Dirty Harry” is a brilliant movie, a great action thriller with iconic dialogue and a compelling social argument underway throughout the film…oh, and Siegel and Eastwood used the film to promote Eastwood’s directorial debut as well…check out what’s the marquee as Dirty Harry is walking the streets of San Francisco:
Yes, the theater is playing Clint’s directorial debut from the same year!
1971 would be a year that Director Siegel and Eastwood would never duplicate – they worked together THREE times that year, including Eastwood’s terrific directorial debut:
“Play Misty For Me!”
Clint starred in this classic thriller, and also made his directorial debut – with a great assist from Director Siegel…first, check out the trailer:
Eastwood plays a Jazz DJ, who makes a BIG mistake when he picks up one of his fans – at a bar that is tended by Director Don Siegel!
Siegel is clearly having a blast in this scene, but for Jessica Walter, after going home with her favorite DJ that night, her fascination with Eastwood turns deadly in a hurry…
Watch this 1971 thriller, and you will notice that “Fatal Attraction” uses many of the same ideas…
“Fatal Attraction” is a great film – did you know it was nominated for Best Picture in 1987?
Here’s a look at why these two films make a great double bill!
“Play Misty For Me” was just the second film of 1971 for Eastwood, because he and Siegel still had one more cult classic to come:
This is an unknown cult classic – with Eastwood playing a wounded Civil War soldier who seeks refuge in a girl’s convent…
Of course, they do a lot more than just “dress his wounds”, and the film – directed by Don Siegel of course – becomes a gothic horror film…
This is a cult classic, and if you want to see more about the film, including the film’s trailer and a look at Sophia Coppola’s remake, you can click here:
Bravo to Eastwood and Siegel for three great 70’s films that are just as powerful today – and if you miss Eastwood’s western phase, I understand:
He had a number of classic 70’s westerns like this one and more…here’s are some of the greatest westerns of that era!
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So 1971 was an amazing year for these two guys: Cline Eastwood and Don Siegel – bravo!
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Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Art, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Horror films, Movies, Obscure Movies, Pop Culture, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities
I like ‘The Mule’ and ‘The Bridges of Madison County’.
I think I like his westerns best, but more recently, The Mule was a good film.
I’m a big fan, starting from watching The Good The Bad and The Ugly at the drive-in movie theatre. Few actors are accomplished as actors and also directors. Bravo, Clint Eastwood!
A great post, John. I loved Clint Eastwood. I was looking at these pictures of him looking so young. I always think of him as being old but that may be because I was a young teen when I watched these movies.
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all 3, absolutely intense and wonderful films!
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Yes, a great partnership with the Director!
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Your title lists 3 of my 4 favourite Eastwood films. The 4th one is Josey Wales.
Nice tribute, John.
Best wishes, Pete.