Clint Eastwood is an award-winning actor and director best known for his western and action/drama films. Both his characters and filming have shaped the American view of Western films for generations, and just about anyone would love to be as cool as him. Today, we are going to look at his fictional characters’ coolest and best shots. We’re also going to check out certain film aspects that make his movies all the more interesting. And, if you aren’t an avid Eastwood or Western film fan and would like to leave the movies’ details and endings something of a mystery, I would recommend getting your fill on Eastwood movies before reading this article. So, spoilers ahead!
Cowboy Hat Ricochets
Whether it be for the purpose of pure intimidation, for fun, or to show off, Eastwood shoots cowboy hats in a lot of the westerns he’s been part of. In classic Spaghetti Western fashion, this is of course followed by a quick ricochet sound effect in most cases, if not every time.
In “A Few Dollars More,” bounty hunters Colonel Douglas Mortimer (played by Lee Van Cleef) and ‘The Man with No Name’ (played by Eastwood) are enemies initially but are given no choice but to join forces against a common enemy. During the rising action where the two must decide where their trust lies, they have a silent, yet telling, conversation with their guns (of course).
In the streets of the west, Mortimer walks towards his fallen hat as No Name stares him down, shooting his hat away with his Single Action Army revolver. This knocks the hat further away by several feet, making Mortimer pursue further as he continues to glare at No Name. This happens three times in a row, until on the fourth, No Name misses by just a hair, making Mortimer smirk gleefully.
Mortimer stands confidently as No Name fires two more rounds at his feet, making him realize that No Name’s weakness is distance; so he pulls out his own revolver, shooting No Name’s hat off his head and then five more times while it still hasn’t even touched the ground. Of course, that’s followed by classic Spaghetti Western sound effects of No Name’s hat falling to the ground like a missile and the snarky twang of Mortimer’s smirk.
Oh, and there are somehow no bullet holes in their hats because we all know that in the wild West, the cowboy’s hats repaired themselves. Nonetheless, this is one famous scene showing Eastwood’s witty directing and his character’s good close-range aim.
Eastwood has this occur in several of his other films as well, such as in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” in what is by far one of the most iconic scenes in Spaghetti Western history. In a three-way standoff, Blondie (played by Eastwood), Angel Eyes (played by Lee Van Cleef), and Tuco (played by Eli Wallach) exchange glances with one another, watching for who will draw first. The song “The Trio” by Ennio Morricone fills the scene as suspense rises. To the audience’s surprise, Blondie shoots Angel Eyes twice: once to knock him down, the second to tip him into a grave. However, Blondie shoots one final time to knock Angel Eyes’ hat into the grave behind him.
There are plenty of other examples, but those are by far two of the most memorable. Though the actors obviously use blanks and special effects, the idea of shooting a cowboy hat to make it skip where you want it to go is impressive in itself. This trick has also easily become a staple in many Western films. Almost makes me want to go shoot my cowboy hat, only that could get expensive fast.
Quick Draws and Fanning
Clint Eastwood’s characters are known for their quick draw styles, typically beating foes to the punch with some of the fastest hands in the West (or in the city, in the instance of his other films such as “Dirty Harry”). To pair with that, he typically fans the hammer of his single-action revolver just as quickly as he draws, taking out multiple people within seconds. This technique is common among Western films but history tends to point out it wasn’t really that common at all in the real wild west–but who cares, it definitely looks cool.
In the classic “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” Tuco and Blondie team up to take Tuco’s bounty money as their own. To make this work, Blondie ties Tuco up and brings him to the town sheriff, letting Blondie collect the money as Tuco screams bloody murder for his betrayal. Tuco is then brought to be hung for his crimes as Blondie perches up with his rifle in the loft of a barn blocks away. Just as Tuco is about to drop, Blondie shoots his noose free, and he falls to safety. As a distraction, Blondie spooks nearby horses and shoots the hats off of the townspeople before meeting up with Tuco to split their “winnings” between them.
Eastwood’s characters pull this off in other films as well, just not necessarily with a noose. In “A Fistful of Dollars,” Eastwood’s character hides behind a post far from his target who sits outside of a wooden gate, the top half tied up two ropes. After distracting him by shooting at his feet, Eastwood shoots the ropes, making the gate fall and slam onto the man’s head, rendering him unconscious.
In “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” Eastwood’s character Josey Wales is on the run from Union soldiers. He makes it across the river on a rope-drawn boat, leaving the soldiers behind, but he decides they won’t be far behind him if he runs. So, instead, while the soldiers and their horses cross the river, Wales shoots the rope. That ultimately leaves the men to float aimlessly as their horses panic. This definitely gave him a head start.
Not only is this impressive due to the consistent distance the rope is shot at, but also because it’s such a small target (and sometimes moving, too). Taking a shot hundreds of yards away at a taut, moving rope isn’t my ideal target practice. But, Eastwood’s characters are up to the challenge.
Concealed Under Cloth
In the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” Blondie stops three men from taking Tuco as bounty who think Tuco has a ‘face beautiful enough to be worth $2000,’ flashing his wanted poster. From behind one of the men, Blondie appears and snaps back:
“Yeah, but you don’t look like the one who’ll collect it.”
He threatens the men, telling them to take three steps back. One realizes Blondie is after his gun and scrambles for his rifle, but it was too late. Blondie draws his revolver from under his coat, shooting between the flaps of fabric, taking all three out with ease (because of course).
But sometimes you don’t really expect it, like in “High Plains Drifter.” The Stranger (played by Eastwood) approaches a barber and asks for a bath and shave. At the high cost of $0.90, the barber gets to work but leaves the Stranger’s back to the door. Three crooks approach him, provoking him and calling him names. To their surprise, the Stranger pulled out his handgun from underneath the barber’s bib and shot all three within seconds. Face it, you can’t really sneak up on Clint Eastwood.
What’s your favorite Clint Eastwood trick shot? Drop it in the comments.