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.
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.”