Hank: And here we are with my complete “Dirty Harry” box set, which refuses to go unseen. Go ahead, everyone, make my day! Let’s watch 1973’s “Magnum Force,” (directed by Ted Post, who had previously worked with Clint Eastwood in “Hang ‘Em High”). “Magnum Force” has our beloved, unorthodox cop “Dirty” Harry Callahan discover that vigilantes are eliminating Bay Area criminals. No one kills the bad guys before Harry can get to them! As he investigates, he uncovers a nefarious far-reaching conspiracy… (let’s just say you can’t spell conspiracy without “C-O-P-S.”)
Aside from character creators Rita M. Fink and Harry Julian Fink, the script was written by two formidable, Academy-Award winning writers: John Milius, (who co-wrote “Apocalypse Now” and wrote/ directed “Conan the Barbarian”) and Michael Cimino, who had just worked with Eastwood on “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot,” and would go on to astound the world with 1978’s “The Deer Hunter”… right before he lost millions of dollars and bankrupted an entire movie studio with 1980’s infamous “Heaven’s Gate,” at which point Cimino was condemned to live under a Downtown L. A. bridge and wear a sign that said “Will Direct for Food.”
Part 3 of the series, 1976’s “The Enforcer,” is more than decent, although less distinguished than the previous “Dirty Harry” movies. It tries to address sexism in the police force by giving Harry a rookie female partner (Tyne Daley of “Cagney and Lacey.”) Director James Fargo may be no luminary, but screenwriter Stirling Silliphant gave us great classics like “Village of the Damned,” “The Poseidon Adventure,” “The Towering Inferno,” “In the Heat of the Night,” and the adaptation of Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot.” And how could I forget “Shaft in Africa”?
Trent: Ha! That’s made up, Dad! There’s nobody called STIRLING SILLIPHANT! Who’s that, Timothy Olliphant’s lesser cousin? Also, you’re turning into Cousin Franz with all these bicyclopedic nerd knowledge!
Hank: Son. There are some things in this life a man must learn how to do. How to hunt down a proud deer. How to start a roaring fire. How to plant a sturdy oak tree. How to make a pretty woman smile. And how to look up Clint Eastwood’s filmography on Rotten Tomatoes. The rest is of no importance.
Beatricia: Oh, Hanky, you DO make me smile. By pretending you can hunt deer. Imagine! You won’t even accompany me to Walmart, because they sell “Bambi” on the movie aisle, and it bums you out when you see the cover.
Hank: That’s not why, I just don’t like Walmart’s detrimental effects on small local businesses. Also, no deer should have to grow up without their Mommy, it’s just not fair!!!
Tracey: Daddy, “Bambi” was just a dumb Disney excuse to sell plush toys. Even I don’t mind when DRAWINGS of animals die, and I’m a proud member of PETASS (and here I have to specify that PETASS, the “People-for-the-Ethical-Treatment-of-Animals Sympathizer Society,” is in no way affiliated, endorsed, or even acknowledged by PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Hank: I won’t watch “Bambi” again, and that’s that. As Harry says: “A Man Has to Know His Limitations.”
Cousin Franz: “Magnum Force” and “The Enforcer” are actually powerful ripostes to the original “Dirty Harry” premise, and two places to direct those who assume Clint Eastwood and the characters he plays are somehow the same. There are fairly nuanced politics here that challenge Harry’s “old-school” stance. The former movie acknowledges the nightmare of a police state in which #onlybluelivesmatter; the latter forces Harry Callahan to begrudgingly accept the reality of feminism, first as an encroaching force on his M.O., and then as a wonderful asset.
Tracey: Both of these flicks are problematic, to say the least. But I do think they mean to establish that Harry can change with the times. “The Enforcer” even has a feminist message beneath the waves of toxic masculinity! And I’ll admit Clint Eastwood is sort of oddly cuddly. Reluctant Cherry.
Grandpa Felicius: Ah, yes, these are the cowardly sequels in which political correctness forced Harry to 1) betray the boys in blue, 2) team up with a flapperish suffragette, 3) coddle the flower power burn-outs, and 4) pet the pathetic back of the Black Panthers. No Cherry for THIS Harry.
Blurbarella: “Decent– Lesser– Fair– Dumb– Problematic–Worthless– Pathetic–Harry.”
5 out of 6 Cherries