This next one was another in a list of many that I saw the first time as a made for television movie a.k.a. blood-violence and curse words dubbed out.
Being that it was made in 1971, there wasn’t a whole lot that they had to leave out.
I remember a well dressed tall man that noticed a lot of other things that everyone else didn’t. A car parked out in front of a bank–still running, for an uncomfortable period of time. Like a prophet, there are shots fired at the bank and Harry, who wanted to enjoy his early afternoon dinner, is instead forced into action.
He is able to resolve the “situation” with multiple casualties on the other side. At the tail-end of that scene, the writers made Clint Eastwood a film icon.
I always wondered what it would be like to write something that made an actor a film legend. Did Fink, Fink, & Riesner know that they were writing dialogue that would make some actor’s words and public perception timeless? My guess is “no.” They probably just did what the rest of us do. Thought of things that needed to be said, and bled them out onto the page.
I remember thinking that if the film had ended after that first sequence at the bank heist after his amazing monologue, it’d been a perfect film. It didn’t end there…it got better.
The story really starts to unfold when Harry starts to hunt down a known female child murderer. Enter, “Killer.” That’s literally the character name on the cast sheet.
Andrew Robinson was perfect casting. Nobody could forget those “crazy blue eyes.” He was so good, Hollywood only allowed him to play television villains and side street-hoods until he finally found a role as Garak on “Deep Space Nine” in the 90s (22 years later). Along with the eyes, Robinson carried the smarmy mannerisms and a sniveling voice that spews “evil villain.” With someone as vile as this, you’d think there could be only one showdown between these two larger than life characters. Oh no, there’s two epic showdowns in one stoic film; both memorable for different reasons.
This was one of the first “cop” movies I had been exposed to. There have been many that have tried to duplicate it on some level, but have failed. The real reason: Clint Eastwood can’t be in every cop movie. I really feel like some part of America has always enjoyed “Dirty Harry” and some part always will. He is a very simple character: do what is right, do what is necessary–scumbags need to die. This isn’t the type of movie that you watch when you need to study the intricate details of the theme, tone, and plot structure (although a lot of people that want to make a good “cop” movie could learn from analyzing this film); but it is a great film to “escape” into when you are ready for a simple good vs. evil scenario in which good pummels evil’s ass at every turn of the corner.
The good guy should win, right?
Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.
2 thoughts on ““Well, then the law’s crazy.””