Unforgiven – ITV4

As both director and star, Clint Eastwood is on target all the way in this bleak, brilliantly acted and perfectly formed Western

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 a sadistic gunman who gets to town before them and suffers a similar bruising time.

Ruthlessly stripping the Western formula back to its bare bones of greed, murder and revenge, Eastwood’s 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 Eastwood the director 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.