It's a career that dates back to a rather inauspicious screen debut in "Revenge of the Creature."
Happily, in the 55 years since, Clint Eastwood has kept himself a major factor in Hollywood in a number of ways: redefining several screen genres through his distinctive style of acting; establishing himself as a famously economical director with a keen sense of casting and topics; taking bold chances with his image where many of his peers might have chosen not to; and continuing an active work pace at an age when retirement is a definite option for others.
Eastwood gets a big salute from Turner Classic Movies on Monday, May 31, with a full day of his films capped by the premiere of "The Eastwood Factor," a documentary written and directed by film critic and historian Richard Schickel.
Here's a look at some prime Eastwood, with the films included in the Memorial Day festival indicated by (TCM).
"A Fistful of Dollars" (TCM, 1964): Eastwood and Westerns weren't strangers -- thanks to his years as Rowdy Yates on television's "Rawhide" -- but he couldn't have foreseen the industry-rocking impact of his using a hiatus from the series to go to Spain and Italy and become the poncho-wearing Man With No Name for director Sergio Leone in the classic credited with introducing the so-called "spaghetti Western." TCM also will show the other two films in the trilogy, "For a Few Dollars More" and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
"Dirty Harry" (TCM, 1971): In the same way he galvanized the Western, Eastwood heightened the relevance of the police drama by working with friend and director Don Siegel on this controversial tale of a San Francisco police detective trying to work within a system he has contempt for. Eastwood's success generated four sequels (including "Magnum Force," also on TCM), but there's nothing like the original.
"The Outlaw Josey Wales" (1976): At several points, Eastwood has revisited Westerns in game-changing ways, as with this portrait of a peaceful man driven to violence -- offering proof of just how much Eastwood had to give as a director. After his family and home are ravaged in the immediate wake of the Civil War, Wales seeks revenge, but his outlook is tempered by his subsequent experiences.
TCM goes all Clint Eastwood, all the time on Memorial Day
A marathon of films featuring actor/director Clint Eastwood airs Monday on Turner Classic Movies.