May 6, 2015


By James L. Neibaur. (2015, 196 pp).
Rowman & Littlefield

Clint Eastwood is a cinema icon, of course. As such, there have been numerous books about his life and career. This book by James L. Neibaur is a little different in that it focuses primarily on the westerns which made him an international star, a genre he would frequently revisit throughout most of his career. If you're a fan of those films, The Clint Eastwood Westerns is a must-read.

The book chronicles his early career as Rowdy Yates in the Rawhide TV series through what is likely his final western, Unforgiven. Presented chronologically, each film is given its own chapter, all loaded with behind-the-scenes information, critical analysis and cultural impact. Not surprisingly, the "Dollars" trilogy is discussed in the greatest detail, not only for what they meant to Eastwood's career, but their influence on cinema and how they redefined the western genre. As someone who personally hails The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as the greatest western of all time, this book offers details and fascinating info even I was unaware of, such as the growing animosity between Eastwood and director Sergio Leone.

Of course, Eastwood's career is not exclusively defined by his westerns, and in-between those films, Neibaur briefly chronicles those he made outside the genre. From a reader's perspective, these chapters are less interesting, as Neibaur tends to offer his own subjective assessment more liberally. This is especially apparent when he's damning the Dirty Harry sequels while praising Eastwood's attempts to shed his bad-ass image in insultingly stupid crapfests like The Gauntlet, the nadir of his 70s-era career.

Still, The Clint Eastwood Westerns is a great read in which we develop further appreciation for, not only his undisputed classics, but those he managed to make successful during eras when the western was essentially a dead genre.
KITTY CONSENSUS: a good scratch behind the ears

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