Clint Eastwood’s Favorite Western Movies That He Didn’t Star In, And How They Influenced His Career

Advertisement

As a Western legend, Clint Eastwood’s two favorite films in the genre would greatly influence his approach to making his own films.

Clint Eastwood’s own work in the Western genre was greatly influenced by two of his favorite Westerns. By the time Eastwood became to fame in the 1960s, the Western genre was losing ground, but his roles in Hang ‘Em High and the Dollars film trilogy helped keep “Oaters” relevant for years afterward. In addition, Clint Eastwood’s Westerns were more cynical and darker than those made during Hollywood’s Golden Age, when protagonists like John Wayne were nearly always morally pure and noble.

Eastwood frequently portrayed anti-heroes in his films, such as the Man with No Name, who had no qualms about betraying his purported allies or shooting victims before they could draw their own weapons. One of the last true superstars of the genre, Eastwood put a permanent stop to Westerns with 1992’s Unforgiven. Although 2021’s Cry Macho is somewhat of a neo-Western, Eastwood is unlikely to make a traditional Western adventure again, but his impact on the genre is evident.

Clint Eastwood Named The Ox-Bow Incident & The Treasure Of Sierra Madre As Two Of His Favorite Movies

In conversation with the AFI (via YouTube), Eastwood cited some of his favorite films, citing two classic Westerns: 1943’s The Ox-Bow Incident and John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The former stars Henry Fonda as a cowboy who becomes part of a posse looking for the men who murdered a rancher, while Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a tale of greed about three men searching for gold in Mexico. Both films are now considered American classics, and they made a big impression on Eastwood when he saw them as a teenager.

Advertisement

How The Ox-Bow Incident & The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Influenced Clint Eastwood’s Own Westerns

In speaking about The Ox-Bow Incident in 2003, Eastwood talked about it being one of the first films of moral weight he ever watched. He went in expecting a piece of entertainment, but the film instead explored themes like vigilante justice, racism and even toxic masculinity. This showed the young Eastwood that in addition to being entertainment, films could explore weightier topics, which can be seen in films like Unforgiven or even Hang ‘Em High, where Eastwood’s character is the victim of a lynching. Eastwood also credits some of the more experimental techniques of director William A. Wellman, including his framing of certain shots.

Treasure of Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart, one of the biggest cinematic stars in the world at the time, is another early example of a Hollywood production that wasn’t afraid to make its main characters unlikeable. Bogart’s character has little chance of redemption. This is what set the movie apart from the more stylized heroes of the day, and Clint Eastwood would go on to develop and perfect the concept of the anti-hero in several of his Westerns. Afterwards, the actor would portray a barely disguised version of director Huston in the 1990 movie White Hunter Black Heart.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement