Five Scenes that Made me a Clint Eastwood Fan for Life

There comes a time in every man’s life when he watches his first Clint Eastwood film. For some lucky dudes, it happens when they’re very young. Still others don’t get the chance until they’re approaching adulthood, or even actually adults. Regardless of age, most men have the same reaction. The testosterone boils inside, and then they spend the next week squinting at everything and muttering their words in a breathy tone that borders on threatening. “Now, ma, I’m only going to say it once–pass the milk”. For me, there have been five Eastwood scenes that have cemented my fandom for the rest of my life.

Unforgiven (1992)
This was my first exposure to Eastwood. I was 16, and saw it with my two older brothers. Just a half hour or so prior, one of the characters had been shot while taking a dookie in the outhouse. My brother whispered, “That was kind of shitty”. My other brother held volley by whispering, “He shot the shit out of him”, leaving me to reply “I guess he was shit out of luck”. After a few more shit puns, we settled back into the film, which dragged us to the devastating finale. And my mind was officially blown.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Everything you could possibly want from a finale in a Western is here. Morriccone’s score slowly and steadily brings the tension to a boil. The wide shot shows off the ominous tombstones and the barren desert. It’s perfectly languid, the scene is perfectly set… and there’s Eastwood, staring down Tuco and Angel Eyes.

High Plains Drifter (1973)
High Plains Drifter is dripping with “Holy shit, Eastwood is awesome” scenes. Two that immediately come to mind both came towards the end. It’s hard to think about this movie without thinking of Marshall Jim Duncan… or his apparition(?) disappearing in the baking barren desert to close the film. But of course, that scene could only happen thanks to the incredible fiery, bloody vengeance scene.

Dirty Harry (1971)
Put aside for a moment that the whole film was Richard Nixon’s wet dream, full of the counter-culture getting their comeuppance. There are few movie scenes as memorable as cold-blooded Harry Callahan calmly pointing his gun in the face of a criminal and inquiring about his luck.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
Sadly, I can’t find the specific clip from the film. In the scene, Eastwood/Wales utters one of my favorite lines in movie history. “I always heard there were three kinds of suns in Kansas- sunshine, sunflowers, and sons-of-bitches.”


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34 responses to “Five Scenes that Made me a Clint Eastwood Fan for Life

  1. Great piece. Glad to see High Plains Drifter getting some love. It’s one of my favorite Eastwood pics. If you haven’t already seen it, I’d highly recommend The Beguiled.

  2. Funny or not, the first Eastwood picture I ever saw was Pale Rider in a Cinema class and there is not so much to praise about… Luckily my next Eastwood would be For a Few Dollars More.

  3. I was sold at Dirty Harry!! 🙂

    Thanks for this cool piece John. Do you still have those cool designs you did about a year ago? The T Shirt designs?

    • Action movies aren’t necessarily my thing, but all of the Dirty Harry movies are a shitload of fun.

      I’ve weeded a lot of original artwork out, pitching it for various reasons… but I’ve still got the original Photoshop files with the hair-itage shirts. It might be time to re-visit those.

  4. Awesome article. I grew up on his films. Unforgiven is even cooler when you have seen his baadasssss charcters first. I always kind of imagined the earlier films were the fantasy and that Will Munny was actually what ended up happening to Blondie or Wales or Hogan.

  5. My stepfather was obsessed with Clint Eastwood (and understandably so). I watched ’em all. They probably scarred me for life, but my stepfather at least had the decency to tell me to close my eyes and ears at the exceptionally bad parts. And as a result I spent years horrifying my teachers by telling them my favorite actor was Clint Eastwood.

    When I was a kid my favorite was Hang ‘Em High. As an adult, there can be only one: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. That movie is sheer PERFECTION.

  6. surroundedbyimbeciles

    There are so many lines in “Josey Wales” that I don’t know how to pick just one. I mentioned in an earlier comment that the “buzzard” line was my favorite. However, the greatest may actually be, “Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’, boy.”

    • If he hadn’t said that thing about Kansans (I’m a Missourian, so…), the “dyin’…” line would be my favorite, without a doubt.

  7. totally agree with Nicki – it just doesn’t get any better, anywhere, anyhow, than “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

  8. Clint Eastwood is the man, the epitome of manliness in movies ahah. Yea I grew up on these movies myself so Clint will always be a favorite of mine.

  9. I still need to see High Plains Drifter and The Outlaw Josey Wales, but I am a big fan of the other three scenes you mentioned. That ending in Unforgiven… wow. Blew me away (no pun intended).

    • It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite… but I have to say, High Plains Drifter would be hard to pass up. It borders on surreal, which you don’t get much out of Westerns.

  10. Jack Coupal

    The laugh-out-loud [i]The Outlaw Josey Wales[/i] must have surprised many of Eastwood’s fans. His political incorrectness fills this flick with such clever dialogue and visuals that it makes this seem almost intended to be a comedy, set in the Old West.

    • Kal

      The movie is based on a book called “Gone to Texas”. I read that book and can honestly say that the movie dialog matches that of the book almost to the word.

  11. Goregirl

    I was in college when I first seen Unforgiven at the theatre. It was my first Eastwood western. A friend scorned me for never having seen any of his Sergio Leone flicks! I completely deserved that tongue lashing! The Italians are just as good at Westerns as they are at horror! I am slowly making my way through the Django films! I love Franco Nero and Terence Hill! I’ve since rewatched Unforgiven and I have to say, I appreciated it so much more now that I’ve seen Eastwood’s previous Westerns (and Unforgiven is a fabulous film on its own merit of course!) All five of these films are gems. Eastwood is the utlimate manly bad-ass! Tough as nails, cool as a cucumber and frankly, kinda sexy.

    • I’ve only seen one Eastwood Western on the big screen- Unforgiven- but I’ll get my chance for a double dose in a few weeks when I’ll see A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More as a double feature. I’m so excited about that.

  12. Darah

    He has some wonderfully funny quotes in gran Torino too.
    Very un-pc but funny all the same.

    • I’ll be honest, I came very close to including one of those clips from that movie… and excluded it only because of the un-PC stuff. Loved the movie.

  13. Right there with you on ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’. That finale is perfection. And ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ has to be one of the most bad ass Clint movies ever made. This is an awesome list, John!

  14. Great choices! I’m a huge Dirty Harry fan…and I’m a chick. Aren’t enough men like that anymore.

  15. There is absolutely no way I could narrow my favorite Eastwood moments. He is just a presence, pure and simple. He can’t be on camera without doing something wonderful – or behind a camera, for that matter.

    Not all of his films are good, but he’s always iconic.

  16. Pingback: Duke & The Movies :: With A Little Help From My Friends

  17. Darah

    Howlin Mad Heather: Aren’t enough men like that anymore.

    Aren’t enough women like you either! Wish my wife would sit and watch a ‘Few Dollars More’ instead of a ‘Few vacant expressions on Top Models’.

  18. “High Plains Drifter” is a great western.

    “Clint Eastwood’s film High Plains Drifter (1973)”

  19. Warhippo

    The line “I always heard there were three kinds of suns in Kansas- sunshine, sunflowers, and sons-of-bitches” is about 1 hr and 52 mins into the standard movie (check youtube as there’s currently the entire movie available for viewing).

    One of my favourites Clint lines has to be from Dirty Harry – “When a naked man is chasing a woman through a dark alley with a butcher knife and a hard on, I figure he isn’t out collecting for the Red Cross”. Wise words 🙂

  20. Clyde Allen

    I love your choices. Except I would add Scene from Outlaw Josey Wales. The scene where the Bounty hunter confronts Josey in the saloon. “Dying ain’t much of a living.”

  21. Dave.

    One of my favourite Eastwood scenes was on the raft during the river crossing in ‘Josey Wales…..The obnoxious little carpet bagger is trying to push his botlle of ”fixes everything” lotion to Josey…..Wales half turns to him and says…. ”works wonders on just about everything huh?”….CB says “It can do ‘most anything”….Wales spits his chewing bacca spit all over CB’s white coat, and says ” HOW IS IT WITH STAINS” ha ha ha ha I dunno how long it took me to stop laughing. Brilliant.

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