Clint Eastwood's Directorial Role: 7 Underrated Films

Clint Eastwood's Directorial Role: 7 Underrated Films ...

Clint Eastwood is one of the most well-known actors in American cinema history, and he continues to direct films into his 90s. He had a few minor roles as far back as the 1950s, but he gained prominence as a TV actor in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and beyond acting, he began a successful directed career in the early 1970s.

Eastwood has directed and starred in many of his films, and has even taken on other roles, such as occasionally composing music for his films. These aren't his most well-known films, but they're all worthwhile viewing for anyone who enjoys Eastwood's artistic work.

'Richard Jewell' (2019)

Richard Jewell, one of Eastwood's most recent films, tells the story of a man who aided in the thwarting of a 1996 Olympics bombing, only to be accused of being one of the perpetrators, while exploring how the justice system can let individuals down.

The film isn't perfect, but there are a few minor flaws that may have influenced its less-than-stellar box office performance. There are some outstanding performances and engaging, moving commentary about the media and the criminal justice system that are testament to Eastwood's ability as a filmmaker.

'The Outlaw Josey Wales' (1976)

After a while, there's a chance that all of Clint Eastwood's Westerns will merge, especially once you've seen a fair number of them. There are a few Clint Eastwood Westerns that aren't exactly great movies that may be overlooked... but The Outlaw Josey Wales isn't one of them.

Even by Eastwood's standards, the film is gritty and somewhat grim, a departure from Hollywood's early anti-heroes, as he is used to correcting the injustices in the Wild West through his violent methods, eventually standing up for the oppressed. It's good stuff, and, in hindsight, a very natural sequel to his much better (and just as gritty) Unforgiven, which was released some 16 years later.

'Space Cowboys' (2000)

Given the title, Space Cowboys may be a little silly at first, but don't let that deter you. It's actually about a group of elderly ex-astronauts who, some 30-40 years past their prime, get the chance to repair a satellite.

It's not exactly a comedy, but it has a fun, adventurous tone for a good portion of its runtime, although it's not without more serious moments when it comes to themes of getting old and having regret about one's life failing in the expected direction. It's got plenty of good qualities (and a solid cast) to make it worthwhile for fans of the actor-director.

'Letters from Iwo Jima' (2006)

Letters from Iwo Jima is one half of a pair of films Eastwood created about World War II's Iwo Jima, the other being Flags of Our Fathers. Interestingly, the two depict the same battle from two different perspectives, with Letters from Iwo Jima showing events from the Japanese army's point of view (complete with mostly Japanese dialogue, despite it being an American-produced film) and Flags of Our Fathers showing the perspective of the US army.

If viewed back-to-back, Letters from Iwo Jima would make for a powerful war film epic, although the intensity and ferociousness of the combat scenes on both sides would make such a double feature very tiring. Both are good films, but Letters from Iwo Jima is the stronger, partly due to its specific aspect of the narrative that is much more profound and devastating.

'The Bridges of Madison County' (1995)

Clint Eastwood had a shot at putting a tear-jerking romance to the test with The Bridges of Madison County, and he did it quite admirably. It tells the story of a short but passionate love affair between Clint Eastwood's and Meryl Streep's characters, with the quality performances you'd expect from actors of this calibre.

The Bridges of Madison County is an example of Eastwood making the film believable and sympathetic (probably the main thing).

'A Perfect World' (1993)

Clint Eastwood appears in A Perfect World, but only as a supporting actor (and this wasn't the first time he did this), as see Million Dollar Baby in 2004. Costner is an escapee on the run from the law who bonds unexpectedly with the kid he kidnaps, while Eastwood plays the main lawman on his tail.

A Perfect World's premise is a difficult one, with its rather shady plot developing well, resulting in a film that is one of his most underrated works. Unfortunately, the fact that it followed up Unforgiven without being quite as great might have had something to do with it; since Unforgiven is arguably his best-directed film, the follow-up was always going to have big gaps.

'Play Misty for Me' (1971)

Clint Eastwood directed Play Misty for Me, the first film to be directed, and it made for a stunning directorial debut. It's a story about an obsessive, potentially dangerous female fan, played by the late Jessica Walters in one of her first major roles (she became best-known for playing Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development).

For a debut, the film is solid. It works well as a tense psychological thriller, although it's far from perfect, with the overall film overall being a bit too simplistic and the narrative occasionally outlandish. But as a first film, it's worth seeing for Eastwood's beginnings as a director and Walters' compelling and menacing performances.