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The Best Clint Eastwood Western Characters: Which One is Your Favorite?

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No actor in the modern era of filmmaking has defined the role of the Western protagonist more iconically and brilliantly than Clint Eastwood. The only other contender for the title of America’s favorite living western actor is Robert Duvall, whose performance in Lonesome Dove is essential viewing for all fans of the genre or anyone who appreciates superb acting. However, Duvall has only played the lead in a handful of Westerns throughout his career. Eastwood cut his acting teeth in Rawhide, the 1950s TV western, and went on to star in many Western movies, even directing himself in more than one classic.

Here are our choices for the best Clint Eastwood Western characters, counting down to the #1 character we regard as the greatest that Eastwood ever portrayed on the screen. Do you agree with our picks?

#4. The Stranger in High Plains Drifter

High Plains Drifter
Photo: Facebook/Western & Classic Movies

This 1973 film was the first Western Eastwood ever directed. High Plains Drifter is an unusual story with more than a hint of the supernatural about it, making it a fine example of the Weird Western. Eastwood plays the Stranger, a mysterious figure who rides into the town of Lago and begins to mete out bloody revenge on the townspeople. The film strongly suggests that the Stranger is a ghost. “It’s just an allegory,” Eastwood once said. “A speculation on what happens when… somebody comes back and calls the town’s conscience to bear. There’s always retribution for your deeds.”

High Plains Drifter is regarded as one of the greatest Westerns ever made. John Wayne, however, wasn’t a fan. The Duke wrote Eastwood a letter criticizing the revisionist approach: “That isn’t what the West was all about. That isn’t the American people who settled this country.”

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