Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya? You should, if you’re a Clint Eastwood fan, because Warner Brothers has announced the forthcoming release of a massive retrospective box set of his work at the studio. Clint Eastwood: 35 Films, 35 Years at Warner Bros. is set to hit stores Feb. 16 at $179.98, and will cover a large swathe of the squinting icon’s filmography, from 1968’s Where Eagles Dare to last year’s Gran Torino (which by my fifth-grade math skills, is 40 years, but I’m not complaining). It will also include Eastwood Factor, a documentary on the filmmaker by Time magazine critic Richard Schickel.
The 19-disc set will, of course, comprise the Dirty Harry pentalogy, as well as his Oscar-festooned works like Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. It also has some of his not-so-classics, like the geriatrics-in-orbit Space Cowboys (which could have been renamed Apollo 83) and the orangutan buddy comedy Every Which Way But Loose. Although, thankfully, we’re spared the Eastwood/Lee Marvin hopalong singalong Paint Your Wagon since it was made for Paramount. (“Gonna use oil-based paint, ‘cause the wood is pine!”)
But the real gems that make this set worthwhile are the truly excellent films scattered throughout his career that weren’t made during his much-revered Philip Rothian late-life burst of creativity. Like Bird, his beautiful biopic of Charlie Parker; White Hunter, Black Heart, his thinly veiled biopic of John Huston; the emotionally draining A Perfect World; and The Outlaw Josey Wales, which demonstrated an interest in deconstructing the genre that made him famous, the Western, way before Unforgiven.
Here’s one of my favorite scenes from Gran Torino, and one that shows why, despite its irascible-racist-learns-to-care trappings, the film is actually one of the best comedies of the decade.
That’s the surprising versatility of the guy who went from The Man With No Name to one of the most important names in film-making. What say you, PopWatchers? Are there any Eastwood films you think must absolutely be included? Any that shouldn’t?