Throwback Thursday: Three Clint Eastwood-directed movies to watch

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The Daily Texan recommends several Clint Eastwood films to watch in the week preceding the release of his latest film, “Sully.”
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

Clint Eastwood may be the quintessential movie cowboy, but he’s also a superb director with a long list of excellent films. With his latest picture, “Sully,” coming out this week, The Daily Texan takes a look back at three of his past masterpieces. 

 

Play Misty for Me 

Radio jockey Dave Garver (Clint Eastwood) regularly receives a request, “play Misty for me,” from his biggest fan, Evelyn (Jessica Walter). Soon he meets her face-to-face, and they enter a sexual relationship. But Evelyn is far from a good lover: She stalks Dave day and night, and when he tries to cut her off, she
turns murderous.

Walter, who would go on to play Lucille Bluth in “Arrested Development” and Malory Archer in “Archer,” delivers a breakthrough turn as the film’s psychotic villain. She’s demented in all the right ways, and a frightening presence against an established action star. It helps that Eastwood plays the role of an average man rather than the roguish lead audiences had come to associate him with.

“Play Misty for Me” is also a tremendous directorial debut for Eastwood. With this film, we can see the beginnings of a director with a good handle on tight plotting and making the audience feel what he wants them to feel. This is a taut and scary thriller.

 

The Outlaw Josey Wales 

Post-Civil War tensions run high in “The Outlaw Joey Wales,” which sees the pro-Confederacy Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) pursue the Union militants that killed his family. Wales’ journey brings him into contact with a diverse array of allies who aid him in his quest, which culminates in a fierce shootout on a Texas ranch. 

Eastwood is as comfortable as ever wearing a cowboy hat and wielding a revolver. He is stoic, carrying over notes from his performance as the Man with No Name, though Wales’ emotional baggage subtly weighs on his shoulders. 

He does a fine job directing, too, for “The Outlaw Josey Wales” is an elegantly simple revenge picture. It has all the makings of an epic Western, from its crimson deserts to its swashbuckling action. But it’s also a thoughtful repudiation of inter-American hostilities, a reminder that no one really won the Civil War. 

“I guess we all died a little in that damn war,” Wales says during the film’s poignant ending. It’s hard to disagree.

 

Mystic River 

Easily Eastwood’s darkest film, “Mystic River,” is the story of three former friends — Jimmy (Sean Penn), Dave (Tim Robbins) and Sean (Kevin Bacon) — whose lives are upended by the murder of Jimmy’s teenage daughter, Katie (Emmy Rossum).

Jimmy, an ex-convict, and Sean, a police detective, independently search for answers. Meanwhile, Dave, mentally unstable due to the sexual abuse he experienced as a child, looks increasingly suspicious. He returned home on the night of the murder covered in blood, and he has no good explanation for the hand injury he sustained. Jimmy decides to take matters into his own hands, but that may prove to be his biggest mistake.

Penn, Robbins and Bacon comprise a brilliant trio in this devastating crime drama. For their respective performances, Penn nabbed the Oscar for Best Actor and Robbins won Best Supporting Actor. 

Eastwood holds his cards close to his chest as he builds the movie’s mystery, keeping viewers who haven’t read the “Mystic River” novel guessing even as Dave’s guilt becomes increasingly obvious. The film’s conclusion is difficult to swallow — don’t go in expecting justice to be served.