In his new movie Blood Work, Clint Eastwood plays Terry McCaleb, an FBI agent hunting the killer of the woman from whom he received a new heart. And while it's pretty much a standard role for Eastwood these days, Terry McCaleb is another in a long line of excellently named characters played by the 72-year-old actor in nearly 50 years of filmmaking.
Starting with Rowdy Yates on Rawhide and continuing through to such self-descriptive parts as The Stranger (High Plains Drifter) and The Preacher (Pale Rider), Eastwood has been blessed with some of the best character names ever to grace the silver screen. Herewith, our nominees for the Clint Eastwood Character Name Hall of Fame.
Bronco Billy McCoy, Bronco Billy (1980) -- It's not one of Eastwood's finest moments, and the premise alone sounds warning bells: A New Jersey shoe salesman (Eastwood) decides to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a cowboy by buying a wild-west show. With superstrained humor and a totally lame performance by then-squeeze Sondra Locke, it's also one of Eastwood's least characteristic roles. But you gotta love that name.
Philo Beddoe, Every Which Way but Loose (1978) -- It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Philo Beddoe is a truck driver, a country music lover, and a ballroom brawler. It says a lot about this flick that Clyde, a beer-drinking orangutan, upstages Eastwood. He reprised the role two years later in Any Which Way You Can, and once again played second banana to Clyde. Still, names don't get much better than Philo Beddoe.
Dirty Harry Callahan, Dirty Harry (1971) -- Like Billy McCoy, Harry Callahan's actions define him. They define him so much, in fact, that they gain him a pretty sweet nickname. A San Francisco cop who does things his way, Dirty Harry blasted first, asked questions later in four sequels. Only the original really seems to have a purpose, but Harry -- Dirty Harry -- has become synonymous with Eastwood.
Pardner, Paint Your Wagon (1969) -- Eastwood sings -- tries to, at least -- in this western comedy. It's pretty much Lee Marvin's show, as he and his Pardner turn a mining camp into a town teeming with prostitutes, gambling, and booze. There are some great character handles in Wagon -- Rotten Luck Willie, Horton Fenty -- but only Eastwood's Pardner succinctly and clearly identifies him.
The Man With No Name -- Eastwood's best screen name comes via three films: A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, all directed by Sergio Leone and all released stateside in 1967 (their original Italian premieres were a few years prior). This trio of spaghetti westerns gave the Man With No Name a name and launched his career. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is Eastwood's greatest movie, and the character -- sullen, menacing, and so fucking cool, he doesn't even need a name -- more or less defined his talk-little-and-carry-a-powerful-weapon persona we know and love.
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