There’s an argument to be made that Clint Eastwood’s career is the most tenable in Hollywood history. It began with a recurring role on the Western TV series “Rawhide,” which launched in 1959, and continues through to 2021’s “Cry Macho,” which Eastwood directed, produced, and starred in – at the age of 90! (These are the actors with the longest careers.)
No less accomplished behind the camera than in front of it, he’s both produced and directed numerous Oscar-winners and commercial hits over the course of multiple decades. Oh, and did we mention he’s also a songwriter and composer with a slew of soundtrack credits to his name?
While he’s tackled just about every type of character or subject, Eastwood’s legacy remains closely tethered to the two sub-genres he helped reinvent: revisionist Westerns and police thrillers. His early collaborations with director Sergio Leone introduced a new kind of protagonist, whose rugged individualism provided a stark contrast to John Wayne’s patriotic nobility. (See where Eastwood’s efforts rank among the best Western films of all time).
Along similar lines, “Dirty” Harry Callahan was a unique breed of law enforcer, the kind that doesn’t mind breaking a few rules – or a few thumbs – in his pursuit of justice.
That said, Eastwood has been no stranger to the occasional career rut. More than once, he seemed destined for B-list status, only to resurrect himself by way of films like “Unforgiven” (1992) and “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) The end result is a multifaceted career of epic proportion, which is potentially unmatched in terms of output and durability alike.
To rank the best movies in which Clint Eastwood starred – some of which he also directed – 24/7 Tempo developed an index with the 20,000+ movies in our database using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of January 2022. Only motion pictures in which Clint Eastwood received billing among the top four actors on IMDb or movies he directed were considered.
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