Coogan's Bluff opens
When it was released, Coogan’s Bluff, which united actor Clint Eastwood and director Don Siegel for the first time, was not applauded as a momentous event in cinematic history. In the New York Times, Vincent Canby panned the film, stating, “In a world of shabby precinct stations, posh apartments, strobe-lighted discothèques and Hollywood-style New York hippies, Eastwood becomes an unconscious parody of himself and, for that matter, of all movie superheroes.” Eastwood, who’d become an international star from his TV show Rawhide and the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns––A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)––was looking for his next big step, something that would move him beyond westerns. The script for Coogan’s Bluff, about a Arizona sheriff sent to New York City to bring back a murderer, met him halfway, transporting Eastwood’s tough Western hombre into the urban present. Siegel, who made a name for himself with B-movie sci-fi (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and butch war flicks (Hell is for Heroes), appeared the perfect match for Eastwood’s silent tough guy persona. But initially both star and director were a bit wary of each other. When Eastwood asked to see what Siegel had done, the director made it loudly known that he wanted to see Eastwood’s work as well. In the end, the two met at Eastwood’s home in Carmel, bonding, according to Siegel, “after two martinis during we which time we discussed dames, golf, dames, the glorious weather, etc.” Although not a blockbuster, Coogan’s Bluff made money. But importantly it cemented a creative connection between Siegel and Eastwood that would flourish in films like Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), The Beguiled (1971), Dirty Harry (1971), and Escape from Alcatraz (1979). Siegel appeared in a bit part in Eastwood’s 1971 directorial debut, Play Misty for Me. And in 1992, a year after Siegel’s death, in his Oscar-winning film Unforgiven, Eastwood added a final card, “Dedicated to Sergio and Don", a nod to his two great mentors, Sergio Leone and Don Siegel.