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Interesting documentary, 28 January 2011
Author: Woodyanders (Woodyanders@aol.com) from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This rather too short (it's only 24 minutes long), but intelligent and intriguing documentary does a pretty nice and insightful job of exploring the moral, political, and ethical themes of the Dirty Harry pictures. Among the folks interviewed are Clint Eastwood (effortlessly exuding his trademark laid-back charm and assurance), writers Shane Black, Steven E. de Souza, and John Milius, directors Peter Hyams and the Hughes brothers, film critics Jay Cocks and Richard Schickel, actors Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson (who jokes that several of his friends in New York severed their ties with him after he was cast as Scorpio in the first "Dirty Harry" film), and Hal Holbrook, and actress Tyne Daly. Among the subjects discussed herein are that Harry is a kind of cowboy hero who doesn't like authority and acts on hunches rather than abiding by the rules of the system, how the original was embraced by the silent majority and was made in a time of great social and political upheaval, that Harry is an angry man with a strong sense of right and wrong (however, said sense of right and wrong is decidedly edgy), and that the first four movies in the series alternate between right-wing and left-wing villains. The most enjoyable aspect of the doc centers on noted film critic Pauline Kael's legendary fierce critique of the '71 classic in which she accused the movie of being blatantly fascist. (Someone else mentions that a female film critic roughly the same age as Kael gets killed in the fifth and final Dirty Harry picture "The Dead Pool"!). Milius also brings up a neat point when he addresses the fact that the second Harry outing "Magnum Force" centered on the other side of the moral coin by having Harry going after a gang of rogue vigilante cops who have taken upon themselves to execute criminals who manage to slip through the court system. Worth a look for fans of the Dirty Harry series.
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