Over the weekend, Clint Eastwood turned 85. Our Dev Tyagi, of New Delhi, India, wrote the following piece, celebrating Eastwood and his not-so-sudden impact, at home and abroad.
It was about a decade ago that I sat down for a group dinner in New Delhi, India, to celebrate my loving uncle’s birthday.
I was a teenager then, in the middle of my college years, and I remember that night was a hot blazing evening in the month of May.
And I remember my uncle’s friends and family members and the sumptuous feast that my mother and her friends had prepared, including cottage cheese and some delicious lentil soup.
It was somewhere after the dinner that we took part in a family tradition: we sat around the table and talked while drinking tea.
The discussion went from the quality of that night’s vegetable curry to an unthinkable direction: Cowboy westerns.
Halfway into the conversation, all the adult men were talking about Clint Eastwood. And from their description of his good looks, charismatic appeal, and cool charm it seemed to me that they were fascinated. It didn’t hurt that my uncle played the “Hang ‘Em High” soundtrack.
The next day I forgot about my favorite movie stars (at the time they were Jean Claude Van Damme and Tom Hanks) and sat down over the Internet to learn about a guy they called “Dirty Harry.”
Within minutes of reading about Eastwood and seeing just a few pictures, I decided to run over to the market place to get my share of his movies.
After all, I was moved by the cool and collected appearance of a man who looked every bit as nonchalant as a classic Chevy.
After seeing some of Clint’s best ever — “Dirty Harry,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “Bronco Billy,” “Magnum Force,” and “Sudden Impact” — I was totally sold on my dad’s proclamation that there were few better things he had seen in his youth than the sight of this mighty Hollywood giant on the silver screen.
Every Eastwood movie I saw was an epic and just nearly as good as the one before, but my favorite became “Hang ‘Em High.”
I can understand how many people prefer Eastwood’s lackadaisical walk on the streets of San Francisco while munching on a hot dog and holding a gun, but for me Clint’s portrayal of Jed Cooper is when I came of age.
In “Hang ‘Em High,” Eastwood had it all. Whether it was taking on the bad guys, finding romance, or lighting a cigarette from the strike of a matchstick on to the wooden fence, Eastwood showed grace and poise, all while wearing a black shirt, brown-colored boots and a cowboy hat.
A week after watching as many films I could get my hands on, I came across a Dirty Harry framed poster, which still rests on the wall above my TV set.
As a fan, I watched more Eastwood flicks and introduced my friends to his world.
We have seen Clint do it all…
From firing gun shots that sound like wild cannon hits…
To romancing Sandra Locke in those playful, light-hearted, action romantic comedies…
To donning a dapper suit and sunglasses in the five Dirty Harry movies…
To holding Meryl Streep’s hands in a heart-wrenching romance…
To busting inner-city crime in Coogan’s Bluff.
Eastwood has expanded and progressed and carved an ecstatic career from the ground up. It’s hard to believe that Clint was once a swimming pool repair-man and doing several odd jobs before TV and Hollywood came calling.
His films have won multiple awards, and in the process he’s elevated a range of actors who all swear by his legend. That list includes Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Spacey, Angelina Jolie, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, and Kevin Costner.
What do we love most about Clint Eastwood? Is it that cold glare? That calm gait? His steely resolve?
His irreducible cool that’s colored his acting, direction, writing, and production?
He’s been the retired bounty hunter (“Unforgiven”); the circus performer (“Bronco Billy”); the mountain-climbing operative (“The Eiger Sanction”); the stalked DJ (“Play Misty for Me”); the scene-stealing soldier (“Where Eagles Dare”); the down-on-his-luck country singer (“Honkeytonk Man”).
In all, Eastwood’s been the star of over 45 films and the director of more than 30 (including “Bird,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “A Perfect World,” “Gran Torino,” “Invictus,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “J. Edgar Hoover” and “American Sniper”).
So what do we love most about Clint Eastwood? I chalk it up to this…he is our equalizer on the silver screen and the very definition of why we follow Hollywood and its glowing magic: to enjoy the flicker of charisma, cool, and style… while rooting for the good guy and hoping justice, no matter the scale, comes to any town and conquers all.
As the cowboy with the flashing grin came upon;
Riding the high tide with great style and splendor;
Did the whole town erupt with an unparalleled joy.
Placing calm above chaos;
A swagger in every pistol pull;
He showed outlaws the side of doom.
Eastwood’s surreal magic can provide light in the darkest of glooms.
Contributor Dev Tyagi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org