As both director and star, Clint Eastwood is on target all the way in this bleak, brilliantly acted and perfectly formed Western.
He’s a widowed ex-gunslinger-turned-pig farmer who is fatefully persuaded to go back to his outlaw past.
Morgan Freeman is his sidekick, Gene Hackman is the arrogant sheriff who gives them a rough reception and Richard Harris is a sadistic gunman who gets to town before them and suffers a similar bruising time.
Eastwood ruthlessly strips the Western formula back to its bare bones of greed, murder and revenge. His version of the Frontier is a cruel, unforgiving place in which the bad guys are psychotic and even the heroes are deeply flawed.
Eastwood the actor has a granite-like authority, but as the director he is very generous to his veteran co-stars and they all get plenty of space to make their roles count.
This excellent film won four Oscars, including Best Picture, and it’s unmissable.