Academics in Action

Professor and Students Unravel the Complex Persona of Clint Eastwood

by Joe Evans '15

IT'S JANTERM. YOU'VE ENROLLED IN FILM 290: "FILMS OF CLINT EASTWOOD" and are entering Hoover 100, which is known for its movie theater seating and enormous projection screen—the perfect setting for a class full of action-packed films. In walks an added bonus: Professor Rich Cheatham.

Something about Cheatham will look familiar to you. Something about his deliberate step, his tall frame, gravelly voice, and the squint in his eyes. Then, it will suddenly click: your professor can double for Clint Eastwood! But it’s not just the look, Cheatham is probably the biggest Eastwood fan out there and you can tell by the passion infused in his class.

FILM 290 provides an immersive experience in various films Eastwood acted and directed in, from classics such as Dirty Harry and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly to some of his recent works like Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino, to analyze the complex persona of Eastwood himself both on and off camera. 

And Eastwood is complex. In The Outlaw Josey Wales, he epitomizes a gruff, lone, gun-slinging hero. Then there’s Bridges of Madison County, in which Eastwood does not play the role of a hardcore cop or cowboy, but that of a kindhearted photographer. It is through his repertoire of movies that Eastwood becomes not just the action-hero, but a relatable man whom people aspire to be and emulate. 

Throughout the course, Cheatham also challenges his students to discuss the various film elements used in Eastwood’s movies – how actors are shot in scenes, lighting, and those classic one liners that are used when Eastwood is holding a gun over a bad guy. 

If you are looking for a class full of action, character, and depth, look no further than the “Films of Clint Eastwood.”  In the slightly paraphrased words of the man himself: “Go ahead. [It’ll make your] day.”