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Dirty Harry: Fascist Medievalism


“When you’re making a picture with Clint Eastwood, you naturally want things to be simple, and the basic contest between good and evil is as simple as you can get. It makes this genre piece more archetypal than most movies, more primitive and dreamlike; fascist medievalism has a fairy-tale appeal.” – (((Pauline Kael)))

You’d think that no new ground or commentary would be necessary for a film that was released in 1971 and has had such a lasting (or sudden) impact as Dirty Harry. You’d be wrong though–and not necessarily in a bad way. I was recently chatting with some younger (think millennials, although at times it shames me that I fall into that category as well) TRS goys who had never seen the film. To me, that’s pretty shocking; then again, my late father subjected me to such films as Robocop, Death Wish, High Plains Drifter and the Dirty Harry franchise at an arguably too young age. Warning: spoilers below.

For the younger TRS crowd, missing out on 1970s Eastwood cinema (sans the orangutan Clyde films) is a real tragedy. Especially, if you haven’t seen any of the Dirty Harry series. Please note: not all of the franchise was created equal, as you can skip out on the last one, The Dead Pool (great title, but poor plot). Once based Clint eventually passes away, no doubt Hollywood will plan a remake of the film series. They’ll also likely ensure that his son, the up-and-coming Scott Eastwood, is not associated with the “reboot” and instead replace the fictional Harry Callahan with a “Current Year” bigotry-hunting kebab named Haashim Chakroun. Or, if they get really lazy, they can always fall back on their favorite blackwashing actor, Idris Elba (remember goys, Roland Deschain and Heimdall were kangz).

Dirty Harry is the best film in the franchise for a few reasons–one of them being that it was directed by (((Don Siegel))), as he was the better director out of the entire series (including a youngish Eastwood). The fact that Siegel was a liberal Democrat Jew from Chicago and his film, when released, was widely denounced by his fellow tribesmen as inherently fascist is delicious irony. No matter the amounts of fascism perceived by neurotic Jews or actually included in the film (yes, there are indeed virtuous elements), the general public loved the film. Other than Dirty Harry, Siegel is best known for the innovative opening montage in Casablanca, as well as the excellent 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The other reason why the first film is the best of the series is that the film was inspired by the times–the cultural rot and apathy, along with the increasing and violent crime, of the 1970s. The public (or folk) yearned for Harry Callahan (the hero) to eliminate the criminality of the time period–the junkies, the niggers, the anarchy hippies and the cowardly liberal politicians and bureaucrats that allow crime to fester. The later films are more drive-in level flicks and a reaction to the original, although, Eastwood was striving for something more artistic and meaningful with his entry in the series, Sudden Impact.

The film was a major commercial hit in 1971, meanwhile whiny Jewish critics like (((Pauline Kael))) and (((Roger Ebert))) did their best to discredit the film’s morality. Ebert described it as, “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.” Kvetching aside, the general public loved the film (it was the fourth highest grossing film of 1971)–additionally, in 2012 the film was finally selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

Perpetual feminist agitator and Jewess Pauline Kael provides my favorite description, “This right-wing fantasy about the San Francisco police force as a helpless group (emasculated by the unrealistic liberals) propagandizes for para-legal police power and vigilante justice. The only way that the courageous cop Dirty Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) can protect the city against the mad hippie killer (Andy Robinson) who terrorizes women and children is by taking the law into his own hands.” As an interesting aside, based (((John Milius))), the man that brought us the Aryan-centric Conan the Barbarian and the classic Americana myth-like Dillinger and the commie-hating Red Dawn, wrote the screenplay (uncredited) to Dirty Harry. Kael despised Milius and his work, but also feared him, as he was known to be frequently armed and brandishing pistols. Reportedly, at a Hollywood screenwriter’s cocktail party, Milius told a friend to tell Kael, who in a fit of surprising bravery wanted to meet him, “Tell her I’m not armed, but I myself am a weapon.” Kek.

Regardless of the kvetching, Harry Callahan isn’t really a part of a right-wing death squad, although he battles one in the sequel, Magnum Force. He’s not even a sexist pig (feminists hurled slurs at Eastwood at that year’s Oscars). The feminist protestors carried signs reading “Dirty Harry is a Rotten Pig,”–they must not have seen the film, as that accusation makes zero sense. In fact, Harry spends a significant amount of time and risks his career and perhaps even his soul to save a teenage girl from the film’s antagonist, Scorpio. The girl is kidnapped, beaten, raped, buried, and left for dead (although that’s only briefly shown to the viewers)–the girl’s fate acts as a blackpill, but hardens Harry’s resolve for the film’s finale. Other than that, I didn’t pick up anything even remotely misogynistic. Harry is a widower trying to save a young girl, and later, small children (of different races and sexes).

If anything, Harry is more likely a civic nationalist (Eastwood admitted that Harry was obeying “a higher moral law”) or a color-blind fascist, without any meaningful racial animus. In the film, one of Harry’s former partners describes his attitude of the races as, “Ah that’s one thing about our Harry, doesn’t play any favorites! Harry hates everybody: Limeys, Micks, Hebes, Fat Dagos, Niggers, Honkies, Chinks, you name it.” Harry then leans into his rookie Mexican partner, Chico Gonzalez, and bluntly says to him, “Especially spics.” Afterwards, he winks at his former partner and the scene ends. Law and order is the highest priority and Harry hates everybody that gets in the way of justice. It’s a significant line in the film (and one of my favorites). It’s obvious that Harry isn’t a racist per se (he forms a respectable camaraderie with his Mexican partner), but he is race aware, based off the film’s dialogue alone.

Clint Eastwood laid out the backlash he faced from the film in an interview with New York City’s Village Voice a few years after the film was released. Per Eastwood (known for sharing harsh truths throughout his career), “People even said I was a racist because I shot black bank robbers at the beginning of Dirty Harry. Well, shit, blacks rob banks, too. This film gave four black stunt men work. Nobody talked about that. So, first I’m labeled right-wing. Then I’m a racist. Now it’s macho or male chauvinism. It’s a whole number nowadays to make people feel guilty on different levels. It doesn’t bother me because I know where the fuck I am on the planet and I don’t give a shit.” Based–note the “feel guilty on different levels” bit as well.

The real meat of the film isn’t racism or sexism, but about the illness of modern civil liberties versus the safety of society. In the 1960s, the (((Left))) began crusading for the rights of the accused and protecting their “muh civil liberties” to the detriment of society (I dare you to find even a handful of right-wing public defenders). Harry is fascistic in that he knows, being an actual policeman and seeing crime first hand, unlike the soft attorneys and bureaucrats in the film, that criminals will continue to engage in criminality, regardless of their civil rights. Injustice must be punished and criminality mocks the principles and laws of civil rights and decency.

Dirty Harry portrays the District Attorney’s office (and the San Francisco mayor) as preferring the rights of criminals over that of society and Scorpio’s victims (the kidnapped teenage girl, a young colored boy, a woman swimming, etc.). With time running out on the captured teenage girl (who is actually already dead, unbeknownst to Harry), Harry does in fact torture a confession out of the villain, Scorpio, by standing on the killer’s wounded leg, even after Scorpio weakly and effeminately cries out asking for a lawyer (it makes the viewer hate Scorpio so much more). Harry tortures Scorpio to find out the location of the girl he kidnapped (who has been buried) and demanded a ransom for, which the limousine liberal and impotent mayor (John Vernon) has agreed to pay. To Harry and any common-sense viewers, saving the girl, which Harry fails to do, is more imperative than Scorpio’s civil rights. The torture scene is almost dreamlike–the dark football stadium, close-ups of Harry’s anguished and infuriated face as he’s demanding the girl’s location and the sick screams for judicial protection from Scorpio’s repugnant mug. The scene ends pulling back to a large overhead shot of Harry vainly applying pressure on Scorpio’s wounded leg.

Because Harry “broke” the villain’s precious civil rights and searched Scorpio’s apartment without a warrant, where he finds Scorpio’s sniper rifle (a modified 7.7mm Arisaka Type 2 Paratrooper Takedown rifle) that can be tied to previous murders, everything is declared inadmissible–the confession and the weapon. In fact, the misguided attorneys almost demand that Harry, not the killer, be prosecuted. The conflict between civil liberties and the needs of society (and Harry’s perception of justice) is brilliantly illustrated in the below dialogue:

DA Rothko: “A very unusual piece of police work. Really amazing.” (The viewer can almost feel the snarky liberalism employed)

Harry Callahan: “Yeah. I had some luck.”

DA: “You’re lucky I’m not indicting you for assault with intent to commit murder.”

Harry Callahan: “What?”

DA: “Where the hell does it say that you’ve got a right to kick down doors, torture suspects, deny medical attention and legal counsel? Where have you been? Does Escobedo ring a bell? Miranda? I mean, you must have heard of the Fourth Amendment. What I’m saying is that man had rights.”

Harry Callahan: “Well, I’m all broken up over that man’s rights!”

When Scorpio eventually walks, Harry tracks him (knowing full well that Scorpio will kill again). In the film’s finale, Scorpio targets a school bus full of small children. The antagonist demands another ransom from the hapless mayor (who unsurprisingly agrees again). Although ordered not to interfere by the incompetent bureaucrats, Harry tracks down the bus, saves the children and then eliminates Scorpio with his .44 Magnum after he goads Scorpio with the trademark line, “Do ya feel lucky?”

In the final scene Harry rips off his badge and throws it away, and to quote the shitlib movie reviewer Garrett Epps, “rejecting forever the cowardice of those who tell him that evildoers have rights or who place limits on the experience of giving and getting pain.” To further quote Epps, “Dirty Harry is a film without mercy; the violence is the most extreme I have ever seen, relentless and graphic. Its message is a frontal assault on the concept of law. Society must give its highest men–Nietszchean policemen–complete freedom to do as they see fit in a total war between good and evil.” Well said, shitlib.

If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it. This is easily a five-star film.

PS. Harry wipes out a group of pavement apes and prods the remaining survivor with this classic bit of dialogue: “I know what you’re thinking: ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

Ranking System:

0 Stars – The Bridges of Madison County
1 Stars – The Dead Pool
2 Stars – The Enforcer
3 Stars – Sudden Impact
4 Stars – Magnum Force
5 Stars – Unforgiven

  • dan

    It’s hard to believe that there are individuals in the states that haven’t seen dirty harry.