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2 items from 2015

Dirty Harry’s Dregs, or a Franchise Learns Its Limitations

20 June 2015 8:57 AM, PDT | SoundOnSight | See recent SoundOnSight news »

Clint Eastwood revisited Harry Callahan three more times, usually whenever his career was in the dumps. If Dirty Harry was a cultural phenomenon and Magnum Force a respectable follow-up, the rest are uninspired cash-ins. The main law Harry enforces in these sequels is the Law of Diminishing Returns.

Given Dirty Harry‘s San Francisco setting, something like The Enforcer (1976) was inevitable. After all, San Fran hosted Haight-Ashbury, hippie capital of the world; was a favored site for Black Panther and Sds protests; headquarters of the nascent gay rights movement; victim of Weathermen bombings and the racially-charged Zebra murders. Writers Gail Morgan Hickman and S.W. Schurr based their script, originally titled “Moving Target,” on the Symbionese Liberation Army which kidnapped Patty Hearst. Dean Riesner (who cowrote the original Harry) and Stirling Silliphant (In the Heat of the Night) polished the film.

Harry battles the People’s Revolutionary Strike Froce, led by »

- Christopher Saunders

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Dead Right: How Dirty Harry Captured the ’70s Culture Wars

27 May 2015 6:08 PM, PDT | SoundOnSight | See recent SoundOnSight news »

Part I.

1971 was an incredibly violent year for movies. That year saw, among others, Tom Laughlin’s Billy Jack, with its half-Indian hero karate-chopping rednecks; William Friedkin’s The French Connection, its dogged cops stymied by well-heeled drug runners; Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, banned for the copycat crimes it reportedly inspired; and Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, featuring the most controversial rape in cinema history. Every bloody shooting, sexual assault and death by penis statue reflected a world gone mad.

It seemed a reaction to America’s skyrocketing crime. Between 1963 and 1975, violent crimes tripled; riots, robberies and assassinations racked major cities. The antiwar and Civil Rights movements generated violent offshoots like the Weathermen and Black Panthers. Citizens blamed politicians like New York Mayor John Lindsay (the original “limousine liberal”), who proclaimed “Peace cannot be imposed on our cities by force of arms,” and Earl Warren’s Supreme Court, »

- Christopher Saunders

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2015 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

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