We don’t usually think of today’s Hollywood stars as contract players for the big studios. Talent enjoys its freedom. So Clint Eastwood’s decades-long relationship with Warner Bros. (though not 100 percent exclusive) is more than just a modern anomaly. This is the company that saw him as Dirty Harry’s unscrupulous cop, the 1971 role that cemented his American celebrity. Moreover, Eastwood was indulged as a creative partner, one who was given the freedom to move into directing. Recent years have seen the onscreen icon commanding Spielbergian budgets and winning boatloads of Oscar noms for his work behind the camera.
Clint Eastwood: 35 Films, 35 Years at Warner Bros. beautifully packages the star and studio’s entire collaborative output to date. (Why not leave an empty slot for his upcoming supernatural thriller, Hereafter, starring Matt Damon?) It’s impossible not to be impressed by the sheer amount of whammo action on hand: Sudden Impact (“Go ahead—make my day”), the Reaganite Firefox, Eastwood’s landmark Western Unforgiven. It also makes a sustained case for Eastwood’s artistry as a filmmaker, with titles like his excellent jazz biopic Bird (1988) and the underrated romance The Bridges of Madison County. (Yes, you also get the orangutan movies.)
Why the middling rating then? There’s no avoiding the fact that this isn’t the complete picture. You ache with the absence of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns, movies that defined Eastwood’s persona. His pivotal directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, is AWOL, as are key turns in Escape from Alcatraz and In the Line of Fire, which were made for other studios. That’s not Warner’s fault; indeed, it only speaks to Eastwood’s fecundity. But you’ll need another box set.—Joshua Rothkopf
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