His performance at the Republican Convention notwithstanding – I refuse to hold a grudge in light of his talent and his immense body of work – Clint Eastwood is the best anti-hero in film.
The only other actor I can think of who routinely played the hero/anti-hero was Humphrey Bogart. Casablanca, The Big Sleep, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Maltese Falcon… but Eastwood plays a far more hardened anti-hero than Bogart ever did.
John Wayne walked a thin line in The Searchers, and he played a sloppy drunk in True Grit, but John Wayne was the icon, John Wayne, and his iconic status as a hero was hard to escape. I preferred Jeff Bridges in the remake. What a perfect anti-hero, U.S. Marshall Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn. Bridges played the character straight up, right out of the pages of the novella by Charles Portis.
On Christmas Day I watched High Plains Drifter, a movie Mr. Eastwood both directed and starred in. The unnamed protagonist is merciless, vicious. And the film is brutal. But it’s also unforgettable.
Here’s some of the plot~
A stranger on horseback rides into the mining town of Lago. Three gun-toting men follow him into the saloon, taunting him. When they follow him to the barbershop, he kills all three of them. Impressed with this performance, a dwarf named Mordecai befriends the Stranger. An attractive woman named Callie Travers bumps into him in the street and insults and badgers him. When she slaps him, he drags her into the livery stable and rapes her. Next, he rents a room at the hotel. That night, he dreams about a man being brutally whipped. It is revealed later that Marshal Jim Duncan was whipped to death by gunfighters Stacey Bridges, Dan Carlin, and Cole Carlin while the people of Lago looked on. Only Sarah Belding, wife of hotelier Lewis Belding, made any attempt to rescue him.
You can read the rest here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Plains_Drifter
Not many actors would take the risks Eastwood has taken in his long career.
All hail the anti-hero. He makes any story more interesting.