The Worst Clint Eastwood Movies Ever Made, According to Critics

Clint Eastwood

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Clint Eastwood
WireImage / Steve Grayson / Staff / Getty Images

A Fistful of Flops

As the squinting, scowling, charismatic star of many a testosterone-laden action flick in the ’60s and ’70s, Clint Eastwood’s star power has filled theater seats. He may go down in film history as a better director than an actor with four Academy Awards to his name, including two Best Director Oscars and several more nominations. But when your career spans eight decades, every movie can’t be “A Fistful of Dollars” or “Unforgiven.” Here are some of the misses — in front of and behind the camera — according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Related: Tom Hanks’ Most Regrettable Movies

The Dead Pool DVD

‘The Dead Pool’ (1988)

Critic Score: 57%

The fifth installment of the popular Dirty Harry series proved to be one too many. Variety called it “an exceedingly lame yarn that lurches from one shootout to the next.” Probably true, but wasn’t that the point?

Related: 20 Beloved Movies Unfairly Panned by Critics

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‘Absolute Power’ (1997)

Critic Score: 56%

The cast – which includes Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, and Laura Linney — is first rate. But the film’s ridiculous plot can’t be overcome, despite Eastwood’s best efforts. The Washington Post said, “Eastwood the director sets a pace so pokey that grannies with walkers seem fleet in comparison. Of course, this makes the many plot holes and implausibilities all the more evident.”

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‘Blood Work’ (2002)

Critic Score: 52%

This mystery/thriller starring and directed by Eastwood hinges on a far-fetched plot twist. Variety called it “rudimentary potboiler material” that was nonetheless improved by having the then-72-year-old star in the mix. Unfortunately, audiences weren’t impressed. It made just over $26 million at the box office — a little more than half its $50 million budget.

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‘Jersey Boys’ (2014)

Critic Score: 51%

Director Eastwood seemed to miss the essence of the popular Broadway musical, opting instead for a kind of biopic that explored the gritty business behind the scenes. The Atlantic called it “a scattered, haphazard, thoroughly confused film that can’t figure out if it’s meant to be a winningly cutesy musical or a gritty narrative about life in crime-ridden 1950s New Jersey.”

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‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ (1997)

Critic Score: 50%

This adaptation of John Berendt’s bestseller had it all: a murder mystery filled with eccentric characters played by big-name actors and Savannah, Georgia, as a gorgeous backdrop. There was just one problem: “The one crucial miscasting is Eastwood as director,” said Newsweek’s David Ansen. “He approaches the story like a tourist.”

J. Edgar

‘J. Edgar’ (2011)

Critic Score: 43%

With Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead as the ruthless FBI boss, director Eastwood paints a cautious tale that goes so far as to burnish the controversial Hoover’s legend. The result? “One part Charles Foster Kane to three parts Elmer Fudd,” said the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

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‘Every Which Way But Loose’ (1978)

Critic Score: 39%

Bare-knuckle fighter Philo Beddoe (Eastwood) and his pet orangutan take on all comers, including a ragtag motorcycle gang, in this oddball action/comedy. The New York Times called it “the slackest and most hairbrained of Mr. Eastwood’s recent movies.”

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‘Firefox’ (1982)

Critic Score: 38%

This was a star project for Eastwood, who also directed, and it ended up more fizzle than sizzle. “Eastwood looks like an automated totem pole, the Russians are portrayed as the Three Stooges, and there’s more drama, tension, and action in a spoonful of cottage cheese than in this painfully drawn-out affair,” said the San Francisco Examiner.


‘The Rookie’ (1990)

Critic Score: 29%

Eastwood directs and plays a grumpy cop who’s saddled with a young rookie (Charlie Sheen). (Where have we seen this before?) Variety said it was “overlong, sadistic, and stale even by the conventions of the buddy pic genre.” Ouch. 

Paint Your Wagon 1969

‘Paint Your Wagon’ (1969)

Critic Score: 27%

Eastwood and Lee Marvin singing? Who asked for that? Audiences enjoyed this story on Broadway, where it had 289 performances, but most critics weren’t impressed by the film version. Roger Ebert called it a “long ordeal.”

Related: 35 Best Movie Musicals of the Last 70 Years

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‘The 15:17 to Paris’ (2018)

Critic Score: 23%

Director Eastwood took a big chance by casting the real-life heroes who thwarted a terrorist attack on a train in 2015. Needless to say, it didn’t pan out. “The film keeps telling us that what took place aboard that train was the fulfillment of something, but neither the event nor the three people re-enacting it seem entirely real,” said Variety.

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‘City Heat’ (1984)

Critic Score: 22%

Buddy movies were big in the ’80s and casting two huge box office draws like Eastwood and Burt Reynolds (red hot from a series of ‘Cannonball Run’ and “Smokey and the Bandit’ films) must have seemed like a no-brainer. Not so much with this film. Variety called it “an amiable but decidedly lukewarm confection geared entirely around the two star turns.” Roger Ebert asked, “How do travesties like this get made?”

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‘Any Which Way You Can’ (1980)

Critic Score: 20%

Ruth Gordon and the orangutan are the best things about this sequel to “Any Which Way But Loose.” Though Roger Ebert said the film “is not very good,” he also said, “it’s hard not to feel a grudging affection for it.”

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‘Pink Cadillac’ (1989)

Critic Score: 20%

A bounty hunter (Eastwood) chases a bail jumper (Bernadette Peters) before eventually falling for her. Rolling Stone called it “an overlong, undercooked action comedy made out of retooled parts from other film vehicles.”

Revenge of the Creature
Wikimedia Commons

‘Revenge of the Creature’ (1955)

Critic Score: 13%

You can’t really blame Clint for this one. This was one of Eastwood’s first roles (mostly uncredited) in a series of forgettable films before his breakout success as Rowdy Yates in “Rawhide” and the wandering gunfighter in “A Fistful of Dollars.” Variety called the sequel to “Creature From the Black Lagoon” “a routine shocker that doesn’t get much of a boost from the 3-D treatment.”