Clint Eastwood: Still the Leading Man

The legendary Clint Eastwood is still producing, directing, and starring in films at the thriving age of 91.

His latest movie is set to be released in mid-September, and a concurrent release is headed to HBO Max.

The Warner Bros. movie, titled “Cry Macho,” is an adaptation of the 1975 novel of the same name.

Eastwood portrays former rodeo star and horse breeder Mike Milo, who takes a job from ex-boss Howard Polk, played by actor-country music singer Dwight Yoakam.

Mike’s job is to bring Howard’s young son Rafo safely home from Mexico and shield him from his alcohol addicted mother.

The improbable duo of Mike and Rafo face a challenging journey through which Mike experiences a transformation that sets him on a course toward redemption.

Interestingly, Eastwood was able to snag the project after a list of big-name actors, who had been attached to the project as leads, were unable to make a go of it, including Burt Lancaster, Roy Scheider, Pierce Brosnan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The recently released official trailer features the Hollywood icon portraying an appropriately aged character that is perfectly suited to Eastwood’s classic style and inimitable brand.

Through the eyes of the heart, viewers of the film accompany Eastwood’s character on a journey of exploration into some of life’s intensely introspective issues: human relationships, masculinity, and inner conflict.

When a screenwriter someday pens the script for an Eastwood bio, the writer will find that his life is much like the films he has graced, filled with uniquely captivating themes.

Eastwood is a legend among legends. He possesses the kind of star quality that is associated with actors of the Golden Age of Cinema. Yet he continues to retain an air of approachability, along with the much-admired quality of a loyal truth-telling friend.

He has an amazing body of work, which spans more than six decades and credentials him in the multiple categories of acting, directing, and producing. Accolades include four Academy Awards and four Golden Globes.

His career began with a role in a 1955 sequel to the cult monster movie “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The debut film carries the title “Revenge of the Creature.”

He achieved a high degree of fame in 1958, when he starred in the CBS hour-long western series “Rawhide,” which ran for eight seasons.

In the mid-1960s, fame made its leap to the international level. He secured the lead role as the “Man with No Name” in a series of movies made by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone. The films garnered the enduring nickname of “Spaghetti Westerns.”

It would be his role as discontented police officer Harry Callahan, a.k.a., Dirty Harry, that would make Eastwood a genuine Hollywood superstar and unmitigated cultural icon.

The Dirty Harry movies became a successful franchise with five hit films in the 1970s and 1980s.

As an artist, Eastwood seems to have followed the advice of Dirty Harry himself from the 1973 film “Magnum Force.”

“A man has to know his limitations,” Callahan says.

In life, if you are aware of your limitations, you tend to capitalize on your strengths. This is Eastwood at his best.

Throughout his career, he appears to have applied this adage to perfection. I would sum up this methodology, relative to his career, in one word – minimalism.

It is an understated approach to the art of acting, which frequently involves another rare attribute, that of humility.

Eastwood illustrated the minimalism approach in his decision to forego involvement in the “James Bond” franchise. After longtime “Bond” actor Sean Connery announced that he would no longer play the lead, Eastwood was offered the starring role, an opportunity that most actors would have found extremely difficult, if not impossible, to turn down.

However, he felt strongly about the necessity for the “Bond” character to be portrayed by a British actor. He ended up passing on the role.

As a fellow musician, I have the sense that across his career Eastwood’s musical proficiency has helped to draw him into the minimalism realm, where the apparent limitations of space and silence actually assist in magnifying the surrounding notes, words, and/or visuals.

It turns out that Eastwood was originally going to pursue a career in music and is a longtime aficionado of jazz and country and western music. His love of jazz appears to have been passed on to his son Kyle, who is a talented jazz bassist and composer in his own right.

Eastwood composed the film scores for a host of his movies, including “Mystic River,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Changeling,” and “Hereafter.” He wrote original piano compositions for “In the Line of Fire” as well as the song heard over the credits of “Gran Torino,” which features the actor singing.

In his honor, the scoring stage at Warner Bros. Studios was renamed the “Eastwood Scoring Stage.”

Many actors talk the talk of politics, but Eastwood dares to enter the arena. He made the decision to run for Mayor of California’s Carmel-by-the-Sea, a city with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

His campaign staff did a measure of the city, and it turned out to be a 50/50 split along party lines.

“I was a Republican, but people never thought about their parties except at the national level,” Eastwood told the Wall Street Journal.

His campaign strategy was simple and direct, much like the movie characters he portrays.

“I drank a lot of tea and chatted with people,” he said. “I told people ‘I’ll fix this, and I’ll fix that.’”

He ended up the victor in the contest, with 2,166 votes to 799 votes, and served a single two-year term, choosing not to seek re-election.

With words reminiscent of his iconic alter-ego Dirty Harry, Eastwood shed some light on his decision not to run again:

“You can’t have the same old people in office all the time.”

Clint Eastwood’s Latest Film Tells Richard Jewell’s Tragic Story

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Like so many of the characters he portrays on the big screen, the Clint Eastwood of real life is an unapologetic iconoclast who refuses to conform to the politically correct ideology of Hollywood.

In deciding on the location for his latest film, Clint chose the state of Georgia, ignoring the many calls by celebrity peers to boycott the state because of its passage of life affirming “heartbeat” legislation. The legislative measure prohibits abortions after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected.

Alyssa Milano, Milla Jovovich, and Busy Philipps, among others, have spoken out against the bill. Major studios that film in Georgia, including Netflix, Disney, and AMC, have indicated that they may move their productions out of the state.

Clint refused to buy into it. His latest cinematic project, “The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” was filmed in Georgia because that happens to be where the real life events that are portrayed in the movie took place.

Jewell’s story is a case study in ethics from which today’s media could learn a great deal. During the summer Olympics in July of 1996, security guard Jewell was an actual whistleblower who alerted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that a backpack, which was in the vicinity, contained a pipe bomb.

As a result of Jewell’s warning, numerous attendees were able to escape the impending explosion. Before the blast occurred, Jewell was able to assist law enforcement in getting many folks out of harm’s way. Sadly, the detonation of the bomb did take one person’s life and injure 111 others.

Initially, news reports portrayed Jewell in heroic terms, but the accolades would be short-lived. Three days after the tragic incident, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a piece titled “FBI Suspects Hero Guard May Have Planted Bomb.”

The article characterized Jewell as an individual who fit “the profile of a lone bomber.”

CNN reported on details from the Journal-Constitution article, and numerous news outlets followed suit. So-called experts described Jewell as someone who possessed the requisite psychological makeup to have perpetrated the heinous act.

The hero became the prime suspect. At a press conference called by her son’s lawyers, his mother, Barbara Jewell, pleaded with then-President Clinton to intervene and exonerate her son.

“My son has no life . . . He is a prisoner in my home,’’ the Journal-Constitution quoted the mother as saying, before she broke down in tears.

The Clinton White House refused to comment, and then-Attorney General Janet Reno refused to exonerate Jewell. He was not charged with a crime, yet his reputation was in tatters. Two victims of the bombing filed civil lawsuits against him. Finally, 90 days after the bombing, authorities cleared him. The actual bomber, Eric Rudolph, later confessed to the crime.

Following his exoneration, Jewell filed several defamation lawsuits against media outlets, which he claimed had reported in a manner that had severely harmed his reputation.

L. Lin Wood, the lead lawyer in all of Jewell’s libel cases, is the same attorney who is now representing Nick Sandmann of the Covington Catholic High School.

Of particular interest to places where journalism is taught is the case against NBC News. The lawsuit centers around the following statement, which was made by then-anchor Tom Brokaw while he was on the air: “The speculation is that the FBI is close to making the case. They probably have enough to arrest him [Jewell] right now, probably enough to prosecute him, but you always want to have enough to convict him as well. There are still some holes in this case.”

As is common in media lawsuits, NBC stood by its story; however, the network agreed to settle the matter for $500,000.

Additionally, both the New York Post and CNN settled with Jewell for undisclosed amounts.

Up until his death in 2007 (at a mere 44 years of age), Jewell was known to have regularly placed a rose at Centennial Olympic Park. He laid the flower at the site where Alice Hawthorne, the sole fatality, lost her life.

Reportedly, Jewell could never get over what an irresponsible and reckless media did to his personal reputation and his life.

The story line of the film is made to order for Eastwood’s filmmaking style. Paul Walter Hauser portrays Jewell, Sam Rockwell plays Jewell’s lawyer, and actors Kathy Bates, Olivia Wilde, and Jon Hamm are included in the cast.

After seeing an early edit of the movie, Warner Bros. was impressed enough to schedule the release date of “The Ballad of Richard Jewell” for December 13, with optimum timing for potential award nominations for the Oscar-winning director’s latest work.

As the final version of Clint’s film will hopefully underscore, it is the saddest of commentaries that 1996’s wrongheaded and biased media will be said to have had more integrity than today’s media can lay claim to.