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

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Clint Eastwood is a Western icon and his two favorite entries in the genre would have a big impact on how he would approach his own movies.

Clint Eastwood’s own Western films were greatly influenced by two of his all-time favorites. By the time Clint Eastwood became to fame in the 1960s, the Western subgenre was losing favor, but his roles in the Dollars film series and Hang ‘Em High contributed to the survival of “Oaters” in the years that followed. The Westerns directed by Clint Eastwood were likewise darker and cynical than those made during Hollywood’s Golden Age, where the protagonists portrayed by actors like John Wayne were virtually invariably morally upright and decent.

In Eastwood’s work, he often played anti-heroes like the Man with No Name, who was never afraid to cheat his supposed allies or shoot people before they drew their own weapons. Eastwood is one of the genre’s last real icons, and he signed off on Westerns for good with 1992’s Unforgiven. Eastwood is unlikely to return for an old-fashioned Western adventure – although 2021’s Cry Macho is something of a neo-Western – but his influence on the genre is undeniable.

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

In an interview with the AFI (via YouTube), Eastwood mentioned some of his favorite movies. He specifically included the Westerns The Ox-Bow Incident from 1943 and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre from John Huston. While Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a story of avarice about three men searching for riches in Mexico, the former stars Henry Fonda as a cowboy who joins a posse looking for the culprits who killed a rancher. When Eastwood saw these movies as a youth, they had a significant impact on him and are now regarded as American masterpieces.
How The Ox-Bow Incident & The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Influenced Clint Eastwood’s Own Westerns

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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.
Similarly, Treasure of Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart, who at the time was one of the biggest cinematic stars in the world, is a classic example of a Hollywood film that wasn’t hesitant to make its lead characters unlikeable. This is what set the movie apart from the more conventional heroes of the day, and Clint Eastwood would develop and perfect the anti-hero concept in many of his Westerns. In the 1990 movie White Hunter Black Heart, the performer would subsequently portray a barely disguised version of director John Huston.

 

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