There’s never been anyone like Clint Eastwood, and there undoubtedly never will be again. Having defined multiple decades of masculinity since his days on the TV show “Rawhide,” every generation of men since then has memories of their fathers taking them to see Eastwood’s movies. Whether it was the “Man With No Name” films in the ’60s, the “Dirty Harry” flicks in the ’70s, tough, squinty Clint movies like “Heartbreak Ridge” in the ’80s, or more modern classics like “Unforgiven” and “Gran Torino” (where he helped popularize the catchphrase of the modern elderly male: “Get off my lawn”), his influence over male machismo — and, in the eyes of some, toxic masculinity — is unrivaled.
Now, at age 91, he becomes the oldest director/lead actor in Hollywood history with “Cry Macho,” a film that features his weary, gravel-laden face in nearly every scene. At an age when our society says you should be sitting in a Florida retirement home watching reruns of … well, “Rawhide” … Clint Eastwood is once again pushing back. With that in mind, reviewing “Cry Macho” is a strange experience, one that demands not only reflecting on the film itself but where it stands in the grand pantheon of messaging Eastwood has sent generations of men on what “macho” really means.