An ode to Dirty Harry

May 31, 2020

As actor-director Clint Eastwood turns 90-years-old, Taschen Movie Icons: Eastwood celebrates the life and time of the Hollywood living legend who has 44 acting and 27 direction credits and a number of Academy Award nominations and victories to date.

Don’t be surprised by the Hugh Jackman-esque image on the cover of Taschen Movie Icons: Eastwood because long before the rise of the Australian actor Hugh Jackman, there was and still is a man called Clint Eastwood.

As the veteran Hollywood actor and multiple Academy Award-winning director celebrates his 90th birthday today, there is no better way to celebrate this day than remembering his iconic work (over the decades), both as actor and the man behind the camera, calling the shots.

Some might choose to watch his work only but the reason why Eastwood is worth over time and energy is how it has been designed. It is not a linear narrative, delving into each detail.

What makes it so memorable and different than other published works regarding Clint Eastwood is its approach to its subject matter.

For one thing, it covers the iconic career of the actor who began his stardom with The Man With No Name as an anti-hero character in Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western films.

Secondly, it tells you how Clint Eastwood adapted with changing times and remained in demand during the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, and even the 1990s.

His list of films - both as a director and as an actor - continued to grow in the new millennium, where he went on to win an Oscar and several nominations. He also won two Oscars in the nineties.

Be it criticism on the Dirty Harry series or his affair with fellow actress Sandra Locke or his decision to produce films in which he acted, this book covers it all, that too in three different languages – English, French and German.

Call it Eastwood’s popularity in Europe or the series’ format, one thing that sets him apart is his ability to transform into anyone onscreen and then making the audience believe with conviction in each character and forget about the legend he is in reality.

He was one of the first actors to climb a mountain in The Eiger Sanction, long before Slyvester Stallone or Tom Cruise thought of it; he hijacked a plane from the former Soviet Union in Firefox before Airwolf came into our lives. His dialogues in the Dirty Harry series made him so popular that American President Ronald Regan quoted him in one of his speeches.

If you didn’t know that Eastwood worked with an Orangutan (and his body double) in a series of films; starred in a major box office flop with rival star Burt Reynolds and how he responded to Dirty Harry criticism, then this book is what you need to refresh your memory. Add to that, some iconic stills from Eastwood’s movies and behind the scene pictures from his directorial films, and you get a complete pictorial guide to Clint Eastwood.

It would surprise millennials but Eastwood was one of the most handsome actors when he made his debut in the 1950s yet he became famous for his rugged good looks a decade later. According to this book, when young actors began their careers in the 1980s, Eastwood worked harder and continued to romance beautiful actresses into the 1990s.

His directorial career gained strength as he grew older and directed two films in 2018 at the age of 88 - more than any other Hollywood director around.

He may have turned 90 today but he is still working; his last movie as an actor released in 2018 and his list film as director happened a year later. Not many actors or directors from the Golden Era of Hollywood have managed to live as long as Clint Eastwood, let alone work as director and actor. As this book tells you, he started his career with minor roles and became a major player in Hollywood.

As Clint once said in a film, “Go Ahead, Make My Day”, let us do so by reading about the man and in doing so, pay tribute to one of the greatest Hollywood stars alive.


– Omair Alavi is a freelance broadcast journalist who can be contacted at [email protected]

An ode to Dirty Harry