This gritty series started in 1971. “Dirty Harry,”Then 1973. “Magnum Force,” 1976’s “The Enforcer”, 1983’s “Sudden Impact”, 1988 “The Dead Pool,”All of these documents chronicled the grimy adventures and misfortunes of San Francisco Police Department’s Homicide Division Inspector “Dirty”Harry Callahan. As crafted by Clint Eastwood, Callahan was a tough, hard-nosed cop with no time for bureaucratic red tape, bleeding-heart hippies or chummy partners who would only slow down his one-man-mission to wipe crime off the streets in a city seemingly overrun by rapists, drug dealers, and thugs.
Some critics viewed the films as Nothing less than fascist, but the “Dirty Harry” films were a hit at the box office. The Don Siegel-engineered template was a product of its time. It reflected society’s tug of war between hard-on-crime conservatives and free-loving ideaslogues following the Manson murders. However, as absurd as it might sound, audiences responded to the primal, cathartic view of a policeman with a big gun and holding the scum of this earth accountable at one end.
Eastwood remains so closely associated with the role, even after all these decades, that it’s difficult to imagine anyone else fitting into his tired, tight-lipped shoes. Do these times call for a similar political/police commentary on modern law enforcement? Let’s not forget to let another writer come up with new characters and explore this theme. Clint keeps pushing forward, throwing punches in “Cry Macho” at age 91 — but unless he comes up with some brilliant way to say goodbye to this iconic character a la “Unforgiven“It’s best for Harry to holster his.44 Magnum permanently.