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dfordoom

Clint Eastwood's westerns

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What do people here think of Clint Eastwood's westerns? I'm not a fan of Eastwood. Not at all. But I do love High Plains Drifter. Easily my favourite western. Although perhaps it's really a horror movie? I guess I like my westerns disturbing. I admit I also tend to favour revisionist westerns, and this one qualifies as both disturbing and revisionist. Which is a bit surprising, coming from someone like Eastwood.

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Actually, I've seen more of Eastwood's non-Westerns. I've not seen "High Plains Drifter" or "Outlaw Josey Wales," but I have seen "Pale Rider," "Unforgiven" as well as "A Perfect World" and "Honkytonk Man," which is not really a western but is close to it.

 

I can't stand "Pale Rider," which takes everything in "Shane" and makes it thumpingly obvious. If the Eastwood character is an avenging angel, then there is no way he can lose.

 

"Unforgiven" is much better thanks to its fine cast. Gene Hackman is terrific as the bad guy with the good motives, and Richard Harris was splendid as the past-it gunfighter. Yes, it may be a "have your cake and eat it too" movie, but it is well done.

 

"Honkytonk Man" is very sweet, which may be why it has never had a lot of fans. Who needs or expects a sweet movie from Clint Eastwood. Still, it is a bittersweet movie with one of the few times Eastwood dies. Worth a look if you've never seen it.

 

"A Perfect World" is shamefully underrated. I think it is better than "Mystic River." Kostner is good as the charming, but doomed, escapee, and Eastwood shows some unexpected depths and shadows as a guy who realizes that some of his past decisions have had bitter consequences down the road. I like the way the movie begins with an utterly baffling credit sequence the meaning of which gradually becomes clearer to the viewer as the film progresses.

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For a terrific discussion of Eastwood's westerns, see the chapter on him in Jim Kitses' revised edition of "Horizons West."

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I really enjoy The Good , The Bad, and The Ugly. So much so I went out and bought the remastered version. It's sweeping panoramic shots and close-ups of facial profiles is great. Leone used such a great technique that even Eastwood, the hero appears feral in his movements and mannerisms. My favorite scene is when Wallach is going after Van Cleef in the destroyed town, and Eastwood appears out of nowhere off from the side, and says,"Did you think I was going to let you die alone?" Great movie. I know for Eastwood purists, that they don't like this film. My friend is an Eastwood fanatic and swears by Unforgiven, where I like that film of his the least. High Plains Drifter is a great film also, one of the great standards. M. Night Shamylan could take a note on how to make mystery movie from this film. It has a completely unorthadox style and a great twist. The film is subversive and is an analogy of violence, many think that Eatwoods films embrace violence, however if you watch these films closely, like HPD, and GBU, the devastating effects of violent are being played out in the background, towns on the brink of disaster, starving people, and ruin. I know that GBUgly is a Leone film, but it definitely has Eastwoods influence in it.

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LOL, I don't think Eastwood had any "influence" on Leone's film. It was Leone's show all the way, and Clint didn't become a movie star until after the spaghetti westerns played in the U.S.

 

Now, aside from the "Dollars" trilogy, the most fun I've ever had watching Clint in a western was Two Mules for Sister Sara, with Shirley MacLaine. :)

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I know for Eastwood purists, that they don't like this film.>>

 

!!!!!!

 

RT,

Which purists are you talking to? Most I know count this one as essential.

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I don't think Eastwood had any "influence" on Leone's film. It was Leone's show all the way, and Clint didn't become a movie star until after the spaghetti westerns played in the U.S. - Cinemascope

 

Seems that I've always heard Clint's name in response to the quietness throughout the Leone movies he was a part of. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've also heard that Clint had some input in the dialogue and the actions. The fact that the entire movie was Leone's makes it Leone's... that's a given. But to say that Eastwood had nothing to do with it is absurd. Eastwood has always had input in the films he's made.

 

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Of the Leone trilogy, I always saw "For a Few Dollars More" (1966) as the real masterwork. Leone obviously liked this film as he reshaped some of it's themes for his epic "Once Upon a Time in the West" (1969).

 

I also felt "The Outlaw Josey Wales" (1976) was a great film (at least till the romantic scenes with Sondra Locke). Dan George is wonderful and the film portrays Indians in a thoughtful intelligent way.

 

"Unforgiven" (1992) is a great film because it's characters have so much depth. There is not a lot of black and white in this movie which is a common flaw in most westerns. Good and evil in the heart of man are often intertwined and very few persons have passed through this world completely one way or the other.

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Well, did he ever actually say that he had influence over the making of the movies? I certainly don't recall him ever saying any such thing.

 

When he went off to Italy to work for Leone he was a big unknown, having only worked on some B-movies and a little TV. There's certainly no reason to think Eastwood would have had much clout during the making of these movies... it's more likely that he was just a hired hand who did what he was told.

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From what I have personally read he was learning at that point and credits Leone for taking a chance on him (most movie actors did not jump from the small screen to the big one it was often the reverse).

 

He has spoken of cutting his teeth with those films and learning about direction, but I don't think he helped or claimed to help Leone.

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He has spoken of cutting his teeth with those films and learning about direction, but I don't think he helped or claimed to help Leone. >>

 

But one would hope that he had some ideas for his character that perhaps Leone had not considered.

 

A good director will listen to the suggestions of his cast and crew. Whether he decides to use them is another story. But he will listen.

 

Perhaps, Leone listened and let Clint use some of his ideas.

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This is not impossible, but not any more likely than any other unknown actor giving suggestions to any director.... unless you showed an actual example of an "Eastwood" trait from before he filmed the Leone westerns, and we could establish that he took something he'd done before and did it again in these westerns.

 

Other than that, it's just too much speculation. Maybe he was just happy to have the job and was happy to do whatever they told him to do.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that Eastwood has grown prodigously both as actor and director since that time, I just don't see what's so hard to believe about an unknown actor showing up for work and doing what the director wanted.

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I personally have not found a lot of info from Clint on those films. I have read where he thought (like I do) that "For a Few Dollars More" was the most interesting film of the three.

 

I'm sure there is probably more info out there about these films (probably online), but most of the books I've read rarely talk about them.

 

As far as criticism on 60-70's westerns goes, most articals are either on Peckinpah's "Ride the High Country" & "Wild Bunch" or Altman's "McCabe and Mrs. Miller". These are legendary films, but how you could leave out Leone's work in that period is a mystery to me (Kirk Douglas' wonderful "Lonely are the Brave" is another that I have only found 2 serious articals about).

 

Eastwood began directing in 71 (Play Misty for Me). Although I certainly don't care for everything he's made, he has grown in skill considerably and also shown he's willing to take chances with material.

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This is not impossible, but not any more likely than any other unknown actor giving "tips" to any director..>>

 

I don't know that having suggestions about a character that an actor is portraying is giving tips to the director.

 

Most actors have ideas about a character's backstory and how they might react in a scene.

Often they will confer with the director and sometimes, the director will agree and film it that way as well as his way.

 

Collaborating with the director in that regard is what I was referring to.

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Gosh, must we really argue semantics? Fine, I edited the earlier post to say "suggestions" rather than "tips".

 

In any event, the basic idea remains the same. I think people have become so used to Clint's usually laconic persona that they somehow assume it was his creation. Who knows. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. I think the character of The Man with No Name behaves in a way that fits in with the whole Leone universe, so I am inclined to give credit to Leone and believe that Eastwood simply saw that it worked on-screen and adopted some of those traits in his later movies.

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I didn't think we were arguing semantics.

 

I'm not trying to suggest that Eastwood created his Man With No Name persona. I'm just trying to suggest that, like most actors, he may have had some ideas about the characters motivation, back story and mannerisms.

 

If he had, he likely would have talked with Leone about it. Leone might have agreed or not.

 

All actors I have known over the years have ideas about their characters. Some are valid suggestions and some aren't.

 

It is up to the director to decide whether or not the actor is on the money or not.

 

That's all.

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Well, yes, it's possible, but then again I don't see why it would be any more likely in the case of Eastwood and the spaghetti westerns than with any other unknown actor in any movie...

 

Leone's films almost take place in a universe of their own, so in any event anything that Eastwood could have thought of would have had to fit into Leone's vision, wouldn't you say?

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Leone's films almost take place in a universe of their own, so in any event anything that Eastwood could have thought of would have had to fit into Leone's vision, wouldn't you say?>>

 

 

Of course. I'm not trying to argue with you. I'm just trying to say that Eastwood might have had some suggestions for his character.

 

I'm not saying he suggested camera angles or story or directing style to Leone.

 

Just that, like all actors, known and unknown, he might have had some suggestions for his character.

 

Film making is a collaborative effort and a good director is open to ideas from his cast and crew. He can decide to use them or not, that's his prerogative as director.

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It just occured to me that although I have the Collector's Set of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I've never heard the Richard Schieckel audio commentary. I wonder if he says anything about it.

 

But at any rate, I totally adore the "Dollars" Trilogy as well as Once Upon a Time in the West and My Name is Nobody. It's a shame there aren't movies like these being made any more. :(

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Cinemascope,

 

When the Autrey Center for the American West did an exhibit on Leone last year, Clint Eastwood was one of the actors most prominently featured in the video interviews that accompanied the exhibit.

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Well, he did indeed become a star thanks to the "Dollars" trilogy.

 

BTW I just read a little something on how due to the low budget for the movies, Leone considered it easier to shoot silent a lot of the time and simply fill the soundtrack with music and sound effects. Maybe that is part of the explanation of why Eastwood's character doesn't talk much! :)

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While Clint Eastwood was not a movie star, when he went off to make his Leone westerns, he was hardly an unknown. He was on a hit television series for seven years, which was seen by millions more people than saw all his films put together.

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Well he'd certainly have been an unknown to anyone who didn't watch television! At any rate, Eastwood's said he took the Leone jobs partly because nobody would hire him in Hollywood... so he probably wasn't perceived as someone with "clout" and at any rate Leone's movies were quite low-budget and they couldn't afford someone who was a big star.

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Well he'd certainly have been an unknown to anyone who didn't watch television!>>

 

Well the number of people who watched television back then was huge. Much more so than watches television today and today we have almost 100x the channels.

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