Clint Eastwood’s most successful movie isn’t even a Western

Jessica Cullen
Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name in A Fistful of Dollars

Clint Eastwood is a legend of Western cinema, but the most successful movie in his filmography is from a totally different genre.

Some know Clint Eastwood for his signature through-the-teeth talk and narrow-eyed stare, and others for his dramatic directing turns. But almost everybody knows him as the best thing to happen to the Western since John Wayne.

Most recognized for his work as the Man with No Name across the Dollars Trilogy, Eastwood became a genre stable since starting out in Rawhide back in 1959. But many would be surprised to hear that his most successful and highest-grossing movie to date isn’t actually a Western at all.

No, that title goes to his 2014 war drama, American Sniper. Starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, the film is a biographical portrayal of Chris Kyle, a real-life soldier who became the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history.

Eastwood directed and produced the movie from Jason Hall’s screenplay. At the worldwide box office, American Sniper made $547 million, far outshining many of Eastwood’s Western ventures. Ultimately, American Sniper ended up being the 13th highest-grossing movie of 2014, and earned six Academy Award nominations, with one win for Sound Editing.

Even if we’re looking at Eastwood-starring movies, the top-grossing still isn’t a classic Western. That would be Gran Torino, which made $274 million at the worldwide box office.

The most financially successful, straight-up Western in Eastwood’s filmography is Unforgiven (which he both directed and starred in), and even that didn’t come close to American Sniper with its $159 million gross. Overall, Unforgiven ranks fifth overall in his starring vehicles, behind Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby, In the Line of Fire, The Bridges of Madison County, and The Mule.

For more Western adventures, check out our guide to the Horizon: An American Saga release date, and find out when Yellowstone Season 5 Part 2 is arriving.

About The Author

Jessica Cullen is a TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's previously written for The Digital Fix, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Slate and more. Aside from being the residential Yellowstone expert, she also loves Westerns, '90s action movies, and true crime. You can email her here: