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THE ENFORCER (1976) ***

Clint Eastwood returns in his third go-around as Dirty Harry Callahan.  This time Harry gets saddled with a female partner (Tyne Daly) in order to take out a crazed army of hooligan revolutionaries who steal a cache of military weapons and kidnap the mayor.  It all ends with a big shootout on Alcatraz Island.

 

The Women’s Lib movement of the 70’s was in full swing at the time The Enforcer was made and I suppose that this flick was a reflection of how Dirty Harry would deal with having a broad for a partner.  While this is a wonderful set-up, very little is actually done with it as it doesn’t take Harry too long to accept her as his partner.  There is one fun scene where Harry sits on a hiring board, screening potential new detectives where he has to contend with the Equal Opportunity recruitment of females and insults just about every skirt in the room.  Also topical at the time of the film’s release was the SLA kidnapping of Patty Hearst, so naturally the villains in this one are a bunch of SLA knockoffs.

 

Eastwood and Daly have an easy chemistry together even though the script calls for them to pretty much bicker throughout the whole movie.  Daly (who of course went on to fame as Lacey on Cagney and Lacey) isn’t really as annoying as she could’ve been and handles herself well during the action.  Speaking of action, the highlight comes early in the film when Harry crashes a car through a liquor store to break up a robbery. 

 

The Enforcer is solidly entertaining, no doubt thanks to another stellar performance by Clint.  The flick does however suffer from an overall been-there-done-that feeling of deja vu.  In addition, James Fargo directs the material in a flat style that doesn’t do the movie any favors.  The stunts are nicely choreographed but the action is indifferently filmed.  Another debit is the fact that the villains are just plain boring.  Compared to the skuzzy Scorpio in the first movie and the vigilante cops of Magnum Force, these guys are definitely a notch or two below the usual scumbags. 

 

I guess the biggest gripe I had with the movie is the tone.  While it’s definitely the most light-hearted of all Harry’s adventures, the downbeat ending seems woefully out of place.  I know Harry has a habit of losing partners, but the ending just seems tacked on to an otherwise comic booky movie.

 

Yeah it seems like I’m knocking the movie, but The Enforcer still makes for breezy entertainment.  While it’s probably my least favorite in the Dirty Harry series, it’s still fun and features Harry doing what he does best, namely blowing away a lot of scumbags and saying funny shit afterwards.

 

Harry’s catchphrase in this one is “Marvelous”.  Admittedly, it’s no “Do you feel lucky?”, but it’s the WAY he says it that’s so great.  He delivers the line with his usual laconic style and every time he says it, it doesn’t fail to get a laugh.  The best line though comes when Harry enters the ghetto and tells his partner, “This is the Fillmore chapter of the VFW... Very Few Whites!”

 

Harry returned seven years later for Sudden Impact.

Tags: action, clint eastwood, dirty harry series, e, sequel
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