Perhaps the most successful American actor-turned-director, Clint Eastwood forged a career that initially was built on tough, action roles but later matured into more wide-ranging fare.
His first directorial effort, 'Play Misty For Me', saw him play against type as a radio DJ who encounters an obsessed fan - played by a young Jessica Walter of 'Arrested Development' fame. Eastwood would go to take two Oscars for Best Director, one for 'Unforgiven' and another for 'Million Dollar Baby'.
Here, we're talking about his scenes on his 89th birthday. Take a look.
5. 'The Bridges Of Madison County' - "Not everyone is supposed to have a family."
You might dismiss 'The Bridges of Madison County' as just another romantic drama, but it's a lot more than that. It's about regrets in love and life and the yearning for freedom in relationships, and it features one of Eastwood's most layered on-screen characters. Clint Eastwood, who also directs, is a National Geographic photographer who is on assignment in rural Iowa when he meets Italian housewife Francesa, played by Meryl Streep. The two strike up a passionate affair in which their own ideas about relationships and love are challenged by the other. In this scene, Eastwood and Streep are talking about living alone without commitments. It's natural and feels unscripted - something Eastwood as a director always had an eye for.
4. 'Gran Torino' - "Get off my lawn."
Pushing 80, you wouldn't think Clint Eastwood could do the whole 'Dirty Harry' / Man With No Name schtick and be convincing about. In 'Gran Torino', Clint Eastwood plays a retired, deeply racist auto-worker who takes a wimpish teenager under his wing and teaches him what it means to be a man. It was to be Eastwood's final role and would have perfectly capped off his career, but he soon followed it up with the poorly received 'Trouble With The Curve'. This, on the other hand, had everything that made him famous - that wiry strength, that thousand-yard stare and a brace of gravelly one-liners. In this scene, a dispute among his neighbours with a criminal element spills out onto his lawn. Grabbing his old service rifle, he decides to intervene.
3. 'Unforgiven' - "We all have it coming, kid."
In 'Unforgiven', Eastwood's final Western, the actor-director intended to put to bed the genre that made him famous. In the process, he made what is easily one of the greatest Westerns ever made specifically because it shifts the tropes of the genre and examines them with perspective. Playing William Munny, an ageing gunslinger that has given up his life and is living in relative poverty as a widower. When he and his friend hear of one final job that could have them living comfortably, they decide to holster up and head out. It initially plays like a normal Western, but instead becomes a study on violence, redemption, natural justice and long-delayed revenge. In this scene, the young gunfighter they've picked up along the way has his first skirmish. The results are pretty harrowing as the young gunfighter, named The Kid, had previously boasted constantly of his escapades. Here, he breaks down whilst Eastwood's character's past begins to flood back to him.
2. 'Dirty Harry' - "Do I feel lucky?"
It's endlessly quoted, sure, but that's the measure of how iconic 'Dirty Harry' is and continues to be. Some would consider it a modern Western; Harry Callahan is angry stalwart of rough justice against a world that's spinning out of control. However, at its heart, it was about the line between justice and the law and how blurred it can become. The next film in the series, 'Magnum Force', dealt with a lot of the first's right-wing ideologies and praise of vigilantism and while it didn't work as well as 'Dirty Harry', it at least had the decency to try and examine it. In 'Dirty Harry', it's all action. As he's casually munching away on a hot-dog, he notices a "211 in progress" - bank robbery. However, when the robbers attempt to make their escape, Harry springs into action. The rest is history.
1. 'The Good, The Bad & The Ugly' - "There are two kinds of people in this world."
Sergio Leone was known for two things - choosing the best music and long, long films. 'The Good, The Bad & The Ugly' is easily his crowning achievement. For a film that runs for three hours, there's precious little dialogue. This may have been due to the fact that he had to overdub a lot of the actors - most of whom were Italian / Spanish and couldn't speak English - or could have been that it simply didn't need it. It's a little of both, probably. The beautiful scenery, the music and the set design instead speak far more than pithy one-liners could. And the finale is where this is most apparent. Tuco, the Mexican wildman, Angel Eyes, the black-hatted soldier and finally Blondie, the cigar-chomping anti-hero. The three square off in the centre of a graveyard - the survivor gets the gold.