10 Underrated Clint Eastwood Movies

With an illustrious Hollywood tenure spanning nearly seven decades, Clint Eastwood has starred in countless classics over the course of his career. The legendary leading man has proven himself to be one of the industry’s most exciting and talented performers, having contributed to over 50 films while serving as a respected actor, producer, composer, and director.



Eastwood’s entire film catalog has gone on to gross more than $1.81 billion domestically, and he has been the recipient of numerous accolades like four Academy Awards and four Golden Globes. While he will forever be synonymous with classics like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Dirty Harry, and The Outlaw Josey Wales, many of the Western icon’s other winning projects have often flown under the radar of fans. Here are 10 underrated Clint Eastwood movies most people forget exist.

10 Space Cowboys (2000)

Touting a star-studded ensemble cast of Hollywood veterans including Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, James Garner, and Eastwood himself, the 2000 adventure drama Space Cowboys follows a group of retired Air Force test pilots who are given a second chance at making it to space after the elite team is tasked with stopping a decaying Russian satellite from crashing to Earth.

Engineer Francis D. “Frank” Corvin (Eastwood) is brought on to oversee the mission, clashing with his former friend and teammate William “Hawk” Hawkins (Jones).

Hollywood Greats Join Forces

As with many of his films, Eastwood both directed and starred in Space Cowboys and it was a treat for moviegoers to watch the legendary leading men have fun on-screen and share one final adventure with one another as their counterparts.

Despite grossing over $128 million (more than his previous two projects combined) and garnering generally positive reviews, many fans of the cinema icon forget about Space Cowboys when compared to Eastwood’s other endeavors. Regardless, the actors showcased their brilliant talents on the screen and the drama winningly blends humor, thrills, and heart. Rent/Buy on Apple TV+

9 The Eiger Sanction (1975)

Based on the Trevanian novel of the same name, the 1975 action flick The Eiger Sanction centers on former government assassin-turned-mountaineer and art professor Dr. Jonathan Hemlock (Eastwood) as he is forced to temporarily come out of retirement and avenge the murder of his old associate and friend, heading to Switzerland and joining an international climbing team to do so.

Hemlock must infiltrate the group and figure out who the real killer is, all the while facing treacherous terrain and dangerous weather conditions.

Eastwood Puts It All On the Line

Paul Newman was initially attached to headline the film but opted out over its violent screenplay, and Eastwood was eventually brought on to star, direct, and co-produce The Eiger Sanction.

Eastwood was also adamant on performing his own stunts and climbing in the perilous mountain landscape, with the actor later explaining, “I didn’t want to use a stunt man, because I wanted to use a telephoto lens and zoom in slowly all the way to my face—so you could see it was really me.” The thrilling film proved to be a modest box office success that earned appreciation for its exhilarating action sequences and stunning cinematography. Buy/Rent on Apple TV+

8 Heartbreak Ridge (1986)

Chronicling the events leading up to the American invasion of Grenada in 1983 and the decorated veteran in charge of preparing an inexperienced platoon for battle, 1986 war drama Heartbreak Ridge features Eastwood as respected Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway as he is given one final mission before his impending retirement: transform a group of undisciplined recruits into true soldiers.

While attempting to complete the task, Highway clashes with the brash and cocky Corporal “Stitch” Jones (Mario Van Peebles).

Upon its release, Heartbreak Ridge became both a critical and commercial success, grossing over $121 million at the box office and earning appreciation for its sharp screenplay, a heartfelt message, and its perspective on the overwhelming military culture of the 1980s.

However, production of the drama was marred by on-set turmoil, including pushback from the United States Department of Defense and clashing between Eastwood and close friend and producer Fritz Manes. Regardless, Heartbreak Ridge highlights Eastwood’s fascination and appreciation for war films and further highlighted his talents as a director. Rent/Buy on Prime Video

7 Absolute Power (1997)

Eastwood once again directed, produced, and starred in the 1997 political thriller Absolute Power, sharing the screen with a talented cast including Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, and Laura Linney and telling the story of expert jewel thief Luther Whitney, who after witnessing a gruesome murder committed by the President of the United States, is forced to go on the run as the Secret Service tries to hunt him down.

After being framed for the crime, Whitney joins forces with a seasoned detective to try and clear his name.

A Taut, By-the-Book Thriller

Based on the popular David Baldacci novel of the same name, Absolute Power had its worldwide premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received praise for its mature storytelling, high-stakes premise, and Eastwood’s commanding on-screen presence and direction.

Though not one of the actor/filmmaker’s most prominent and acclaimed projects, the thriller nonetheless will have audiences engrossed as Eastwood takes on the President and a delightfully devious Hackman, with his dangerous quest sure to keep fans on the edge of their seats. Rent/Buy on Apple TV+

6 Bronco Billy (1980)

In the 1980 Western dramedy Bronco Billy, stuntman and traveling circus owner Bronco Billy McCoy struggles to keep his flailing show alive and his performers happy as he contends with dwindling public interest and a serious lack of funds.

When Billy meets the spoiled and uptight Antoinette Lily (Sondra Locke) as she prepares to marry her conniving future husband, the adventure-seeking young woman becomes Billy’s assistant and tries her hand at circus life, with sparks naturally flying between the two.

A Passion Project for Eastwood

Though not a financial knockout like his previous films, Bronco Billy still showcased Eastwood’s and his charisma and overall likability as a leading man. The actor himself has called the Western one of the most relaxed projects and shoots he’s ever worked on, while his biographer Richard Schickel declared that it is the Hollywood great’s most self-referential work.

Eastwood would go on to retrospectively express, “It was an old-fashioned theme, probably too old fashioned since the film didn’t do as well as we hoped. But if, as a film director, I ever wanted to say something, you’ll find it in Bronco Billy.” Rent/Buy on Prime Video

5 A Perfect World (1993)

Throughout the ’90s, Eastwood continued dominating the silver screen both in front of and behind the camera, taking on double duties once again with the 1993 crime drama A Perfect World.

The captivating film takes place in 1963 Texas and follows escaped convict Robert “Butch” Haynes (Kevin Costner) as he takes eight-year-old Phillip Perry hostage in an effort to flee the state, attracting the unwanted attention of the authorities and seasoned Texas Ranger Chief “Red” Garnett (Eastwood).

Eastwood’s ’90s Cinema Takeover

Steven Spielberg was initially attached to direct the drama but ultimately passed in favor of helming Jurassic Park, and Eastwood was instead brought on. He had only intended on staying in the director’s chair for the film but co-star Costner felt he was perfect for the role of Red Garnett, and Eastwood ultimately agreed.

A Perfect World was a smash hit with moviegoers, grossing $135 million and garnering widespread critical acclaim for its phenomenal performances and top-notch directing; it is widely regarded by Eastwood fans and critics as one of legend’s greatest films. Rent/Buy on Apple TV+

4 Honkytonk Man (1982)

Eastwood once again ventured into the dazzling world of musicals (having previously appeared in Paint Your Wagon) when he starred in the 1982 Western musical dramedy Honkytonk Man, sharing the screen with his son Kyle Eastwood.

The film is based on the Clancy Carlile novel and follows Western singer Red Stovall as he heads to Nashville, Tennessee to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, racing against time as he also battles tuberculosis. Red is accompanied by his young nephew Whit on the deeply-meaning journey to the career-making destination.

Related: This 1982 Western Musical Is Clint Eastwood’s Most Personal Film

Eastwood Enlists the Help of His Son

Despite debuting to immense critical acclaim, Honkytonk Man failed to make a major impact at the box office and was Eastwood’s lowest-grossing picture for more than a decade, yet the superstar did demonstrate his vocal talents in the heartwarming film.

Eastwood performed alongside country singer Marty Robbins (in his final film appearance) in the dramedy, which is loosely based on the life of singer-songwriter Jimmie Rodgers. Fans of the actor will enjoy seeing him work closely with his then-young son Kyle and watch their sweet chemistry as they play off one another on-screen. Rent/Buy on Apple TV+

3 White Hunter Black Heart (1990)

The 1990 adventure drama White Hunter Black Heart is a thinly disguised retelling of author and screenwriter Peter Viertel’s personal experiences working on the Hollywood classic The African Queen, centering on stubborn world-renowned director John Wilson (Eastwood) as he lands in Zimbabwe in the early 1950s to film his next project and finds himself becoming obsessed with shooting an elusive elephant.

Wilson’s actions create tension and uncertainty on set, as he becomes blinded by his hunting fixation.

Tackling a Hollywood Titan

In White Hunter Black Heart, Eastwood’s character John Wilson is based on revered Tinseltown director John Huston, while Wilson’s screenwriter companion Pete Verrill (Jeff Fahey) is inspired by Viertel himself.

Eastwood adopted Huston’s distinct speaking mannerisms for the role, making it even more abundantly clear who his character was modeled after. The drama was entered into the Cannes Film Festival where it was praised for being a captivating character study about the intense process of filmmaking, self-obsession, and the concept of masculinity. Buy/Rent on Apple TV+

2 Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)

The second big-screen collaboration between Eastwood and director Don Siegel was the 1970 Western Two Mules for Sister Sara, in which the leading man starred opposite Shirley MacClaine and portrayed former Northern soldier and mercenary Hogan who stumbles upon a desperate nun in need of help as she assists a group of Mexican revolutionaries fight against the invading French forces.

Hogan begins to realize there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the cursing, booze-drinking “nun” Sara.

Eastwood & Siegel Create Movie Magic

Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr were initially envisioned to star in the picture until Eastwood was shown the script by Elizabeth Taylor, who had wanted to portray Sister Sara opposite the actor.

MacClaine was eventually brought on and, according to both Eastwood and Siegel, was unfriendly on-set; Siegel said of the actress, “It’s hard to feel any great warmth to her. She’s too unfeminine and has too much balls. She’s very, very hard.” Two Mules for Sister Sara was a modest financial success and Eastwood dominated as the anti-hero, further proving his collaborations with Siegel were some of his finest. Rent/Buy on Apple TV+

1 City Heat (1984)

Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds were a surprisingly sensational dream team when they headlined the 1984 buddy crime comedy City Heat, which takes places in 1933 Kansas City and follows savvy PI Mike Murphy (Reynolds) as he turns to his former friend Lieutenant Speer (Eastwood) to help catch the mobster responsible for the murder of his partner. Both Murphy and Speer detest one another, but join forces to take down the crime boss and keep the city safe from his violence.

Related: 15 Classic Buddy Cop Movies That Define the Genre

Eastwood & Reynolds Elevate a Weak Script

Both Eastwood and Reynolds delivered charming performances and their winning chemistry proved to be the saving grace for City Heat, which surprisingly became a box office dud. Despite such a lackluster response, the crime comedy only showcased the lead pair’s exceptional star power and overall likability as leading men.

Variety commended the men in their review, noting that “there remains a certain pleasure just in seeing them square off together in a good-natured arm-wrestling match of charisma and star voltage. Nevertheless, one might have hoped for material more exciting than this hokum.” Rent/Buy on Apple TV+