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If you stick with this 30-minute "documentary" or DVD "bonus feature,"
whatever you want to call it, you'll be satisfied. The first half is a
bit boring but the second half is very interesting. It was on the
feature film, "Dirty Harry," DVD.
Clint Eastwood, who played the title character in all of the "Dirty Harry movies," said they originally thought of having the film take place in Seattle since few movies had been done in that area before. After all, everyone knew San Francisco from tons of classic films. However, they decided on staying in San Francisco and that was fine with Eastwood as he grew up in that area and knew it well.
Clint also points out there really wasn't anything political about the series even though some had painted it that way. He admitted the public was tired of hearing a lot in that period about all the rights of the accused and seemed to have forgotten the victims. Thus, Dirty Harry, who meted out "instant justice," became popular.
Host Robert Urich also points out this was the time of Viet Nam, Watergate, the rise of new psychotic killers and people felt "the good guys were losing" and we had no control over things. "Harry Callahan," of course, took control, so movie-goers lived variously through "Harry."
On a lighter note, some of the actors who worked on these films like Andy Robinson, Hal Holbrook and Patricia Clarkson recall action scenes where they were scared to death but Eastwood remained calm and cool throughout it all.
Would Eastwood come back today as a "retired" Dirty Harry lured back into assignment? "Nah," he said, "some things are best left alone."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This documentary sketches in the nature of the five Dirty Harry movies.
Footage is about equally split between talking heads -- like Eastwood,
Hal Holbrook, and director Ted Post -- and clips from the movies
themselves, mostly scenes of action, and those mostly of Dirty Harry
Callahan firing his monster pistol.
It's an interesting film, especially if you don't know much about the oeuvre. But it's compromised by a score that consists mostly of a riff on electric guitars and some editing that gives us an impression of a presentation on MTV. It tells us practically nothing about the character of Dirty Harry. It shows his deeds. Eastwood compares him to Gary Cooper in "High Noon" and lets it go at that. It seems a mistake to me. Cooper's character in "High Noon" was filled with trepidation and loathe to fight, whereas Harry Callahan lives for the confrontation and his dictionary has no word for fear.
This particular "Dirty Harry For Dummies" aside, the series itself declined in quality, and monotonically, each new example looking for tired than the one before. It cheapened the quality of the original, which was a tight, tense, right-wing wet dream and a huge commercial success.
Besides, the original led not only to its own series but adumbrated a whole cascade of imitations in the form of wisecracking, lone Supermen fighting gangsters or other miscreants in the action movies of the 1970s and 1980s. Let's see, there was Rambo, Schwarzenegger, John McLane, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris -- need I go on? I mean, if these bemuscled behemoths didn't exist it would not have been necessary to invent them. Well, "Die Hard" had a certain sly charm.
The Dirty Harry series at least gave us some nifty tag lines -- "Go ahead, make my day" (quoted by Ronald Reagan), and "Do you feel lucky, punk?" Other attempts at tag lines failed. "Marvelous." "A man's got to know his limitations." They really should have quit after Dirty Harry Number One. Eastwood himself felt that the series suffered from pattern exhaustion after Number Three, but continued to do Warners a favor by grinding more out, in return for which he got to work on more personal enterprises -- not necessarily much better.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This snappy little 30 minute documentary offers a solid and engrossing examination of the Dirty Harry series. Among the folks interviewed herein are Clint Eastwood, who's as relaxed and charismatic as ever; radiant actress Patricia Clarkson, director Ted Post, writer John Milius, and actors Andrew Robinson, Hal Holbrook, Evan Kim, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Eastwood reveals that the classic original was initially going to be filmed in Seattle. Robinson tells a nifty anecdote about how he learned all about film acting from portraying Scorpio and was primarily cast in the part because he had the face of a young choirboy. Holbrook and Clarkson both relate fun stories about doing harrowing action set pieces in which they were scared for the lives, but Eastwood remained cool and collected. Other topics discussed are Harry is an outsider with no life outside of the hunt (we no precious little about his past and his job keeps him so busy that he has no time for romance), the first three films are products of the 70's when such things as Vietnam and Watergate made the public hungry for a new kind of take-charge urban hero who didn't play by the rules, the system in the pictures is both corrupt and impotent with more emphasis put on the rights of criminals over the victims' rights, and that the movies are depictions of an ugly and gritty urban reality with violent psychopaths as the main villains. Naturally, there are plenty of cool clips from all the films featured throughout. Recommended viewing for fans of the series.
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