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.”