Clint Eastwood on Dirty Harry

This is an excerpt from an interview with Clint Eastwood, this concerns what he thought about Dirty Harry. I thought it was interesting that he wanted to communicate that Dirty Harry was not political. The introduction question seems to be a bit leading however that is the nature of the beast concerning interviews.

Gentry: All that business years ago, about Harry being a right winger or a neofascist, as some critics said, it seems to me that they were failing to see Harry in the larger context, this pattern where conventional references for morality is rather obscured.

Eastwood : Well, yeah, there were no conservative over- tones. Actually, it was just critical people who took everything in political terms at that time. We weren’t telling a conservative story. We were just doing a story that involved victims, victims of violent crime. Harry asks the authorities, How come you let the guy go? And they say, Because that’s the law. And Harry answers, Then the law is wrong. That doesn’t mean you’re a fascist. If fascism is blind obedience to authority, then Harry was really the opposite of fascist. He differs with the law in this case. And a lot of people differ with the law, have questions about it. We read about decisions every day that make us ask, How could they do that? There must be some kind of balance there where you can pre- vent a psychopath from going back out on the street and potentially committing another violent crime, which in the story he does. The times have caught up with Harry to an extent. Nowadays there’re organizations for the victims and the families of victims of violent crime. But in those days, when Dirty Harry was first released in theatres, there wasn’t any of that. The tendency was to look at it in terms of the rights of the accused, Miranda and all that. We were merely suggesting that this was a case, an extreme case, where no one was taking the victim into consideration, and there was a serious time factor pertaining to her survival. I don’t think anybody really believes a police officer would go that far for somebody in trouble. I mean, that’s kind of going overboard. Most of the time you figure, Well, you’re off the case. It’s closed. But here was this guy who lived alone and was obsessed with following it through. That was the romance, I think, be- cause who believes there’s some guy out there with that kind of tenacity? I don’t know necessarily agree with Dirty Harry’s philosophy all the way down the line. I don’t disagree with the importance of rights for the accused, either. But we were telling a story, an incident in one man’s life. It was a story worth telling. But that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t turn around and do a story about someone who’s been falsely accused or something.1

 

 

1. Ric Gentry, ‘Clint Eastwood: An Interview’, Film Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Spring, 1989), pp. 12-23. p. 23.

Published by

A.R. Duckworth

South Yorkshire England

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