In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_poltergeist

Poltergeist

Rarely has a remake felt more contractually obligated than the 2015 version of Poltergeist.

Thumb_jrz5dbcqdqtrdfxq1yhmdcqy6yd

Sunshine Superman

I found Jean Boenish’s philosophical musings less than persuasive. And I don’t think my fear of heights was the reason for my bias.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Cannes Archives
Other Articles
Far Flunger Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry Movie Review
  |  

Eastwood doesn't care; he says to hell with the Bill of Rights and stalks out of the district attorney's office. But when Scorpio hijacks the school bus, it is Eastwood again, who is asked to be bag man and carry the ransom. This time he refuses. He wants Scorpio on his own. We've already seen him twisting Scorpio's broken arm ("I have a right to a lawyer!" Scorpio shouts), and soon we will see him kill Scorpio in cold blood. Then, in a thoughtful final scene, Eastwood takes his police badge and throws it into a gravel pit.

It is possible to see the movie as just another extension of Eastwood's basic screen character: He is always the quiet one with the painfully bottled-up capacity for violence, the savage forced to follow the rules of society. This time, by breaking loose, he did what he was always about to do in his earlier films. If that is all, then "Dirty Harry" is a very good example of the cops-and-killers genre, and Siegel proves once again that he understands the Eastwood mystique.

But wait a minute. The movie clearly and unmistakably gives us a character who understands the Bill of Rights, understands his legal responsibility as a police officer, and nevertheless takes retribution into his own hands. Sure, Scorpio is portrayed as the most vicious, perverted, warped monster we can imagine -- but that's part of the same stacked deck. The movie's moral position is fascist. No doubt about it.

I think films are more often a mirror of society than an agent of change, and that when we blame the movies for the evils around us we are getting things backward. "Dirty Harry" is very effective at the level of a thriller. At another level, it uses the most potent star presence in American movies -- Clint Eastwood -- to lay things on the line. If there aren't mentalities like Dirty Harry's at loose in the land, then the movie is irrelevant. If there are, we should not blame the bearer of the bad news.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Video games can never be art

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to ...

Bill Murray, iPhones and Our One-Handed Species

An essay on how technology has rendered us a one-handed species.

"2001" -- The Monolith and the Message

Good parables explain themselves. After you have read the story of Lazarus in the Bible, you don't need anyone to exp...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus