Clint Eastwood is, by our estimate at least, the greatest Western actor of all time. And with that being the case, it stands to reason that he also has a number of outstanding Western films on his résumé. We’ve put together what we believe are his seven best trips to the Old West below, so throw on a cowboy hat and have a look.
1. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The third entry in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” Eastwood’s final turn as The Man with No Name also happens to be the most iconic Western ever made. From the genre-defining theme song to Eastwood’s stone-cold stare, chances are that when you think of a Western, this is the movie you picture.
By the 1990s, Westerns had largely gone out of vogue. An outdated genre about an even more outdated time period, no one seemed very interested in cowboys or gunslingers in the late 20th century. But this 1992 film and a handful of others changed that perception, and Unforgiven became one of the most-acclaimed movies of Eastwood’s career, winning the Oscar for Best Picture and Eastwood himself the prize for Best Director.
3. A Fistful of Dollars
With this 1964 film, director Sergio Leone essentially created a new genre with the Spaghetti Western, and Eastwood quickly became the face of this new style of film. More morally-ambiguous and violent than the Westerns that had come before it while also introducing avant-garde storytelling and groundbreaking music, A Fistful of Dollars and the films that followed in its wake forever changed Westerns for the better.
4. High Plains Drifter
Part Western, part ghost story, High Plains Drifter is all cool. The story of a mysterious lawman coming into a town and cleaning it up is about as classic as a Western story gets, but this film — which Eastwood directed — was able to put a hardened and modern spin on the classic formula that makes it endlessly entertaining.
5. For a Few Dollars More
The middle entry in Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy” may not get as much fanfare as its brethren, but it shouldn’t be slept on. With Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef as a pair of bounty hunters on the trail of one of the genre’s most vicious villains in Gian Maria Volonté’s El Indio, For a Few Dollars More is an out-and-out thrill ride.
6. The Outlaw Josey Wales
This brutal film about a man who becomes a vengeful killer following the murder of his family is remarkable for how much beauty it manages to coax out of a story that’s filled with such death and despair. It’s one of the best Westerns of the 1970s, for sure.
7. Pale Rider
The 1980s weren’t exactly a great time for Westerns, but Pale Rider is an exception. The highest-grossing Western of the decade, this movie may be curiously similar to High Plains Drifter in terms of story, but its blockbuster treatment makes it a different beast entirely.
Watch the greatest Clint Eastwood Western of them all, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, airing Sunday, June 7 at 5 pm/4 C on THIS.