Thursday, February 24, 2005
Feeling lucky, punk?
I would argue that the Dirty Harry series of films started the whole 'rogue cop' genre, and finished it too, in a way, as all the others look like poor imitations.
The writers cleverly created a fantasy character which the target audience could identify with. Who hasn't been frustrated by the vacillations of weak bosses, or been furious at the system's inability to dispense justice?
Of course, time has left the series, which railed against the mob corruption and out of control criminality of the day, somewhat dated. President Reagan's Crime Reduction Act of 1984 and the aggressive tactics introduced by prosecutors like Rudy Giuliani mean that the streets today no longer resemble those of the wild west, and the mob is but a pale shadow of its former self. In fact, with the government today able to imprison pretty much whomever it wants, for as long as it wants, for violating any of a huge number of vague federal laws (e.g., Martha Stewart), the pendulum could be said to have swung in completely the opposite direction.
But nevertheless, I believe the five Dirty Harry movies are the best of their type ever made. They are packed with quotable lines, memorable characters and situations, and non stop action. In fact what makes them so good is the high quality of the supporting actors. Most films today, there will be the so-called 'star', and he will be surrounded with nonentities so he is not upstaged. But given that there aren't many actors capable of upstaging Eastwood, you find the people around him add a heck of a lot to the movie.
"What do they want?"
"What are you going to do?"
"Give 'em one!"
"Fourteen thousand, four hundred and ninety eight dollars and eighty seven cents!"
"How can that be?"
"You want an itemised account? Well you ripped out fourteen feet of counter, one city vehicle totalled, damage to stock, plus four hostages who will probably sue the city!"
"Excessive use of force!"
"I want to see some identification!"
"This guy runs like a Jackrabbit.... I'm not about to let him go!"
Great dialogue is such a delight.... I could go on all day.
Anyway, they are now bringing out a video game based on Dirty Harry. I have never owned or even used an XBOX or a Playstation, but I may just start now.