Great American Clint Eastwood Marks a Milestone

On May 31, Clint Eastwood will turn 91, but 2021 also marks another milestone for the actor and director, active since the 1950s. In 1971, after making a name for himself in spaghetti westerns and thrillers such as “Where Eagles Dare,” Eastwood played Inspector Harry Callahan in “Dirty Harry,” the first movie to push back against the pro-criminal Left, and what would now be called political correctness. 

Callahan is known as “Dirty Harry” because he takes on dirty jobs such as talking down suicide jumpers. In the course of such duties, Callahan doesn’t care who he offends. For example, new partner Chico Gonzalez was a sociology major at San Jose State. “Sociology?” Callahan quips. “Oh, you’ll go far.” 

Dirty Harry must track down the “Scorpio Killer” on the loose in San Francisco. Callahan tells the mayor Scorpio will kill again “because he likes it,” not because he is poor and oppressed, mentally ill, suffers from multiple personalities, or anything like that. In “Dirty Harry,” criminals are responsible for their actions and the police are responsible for protecting the public.  

Callahan tracks Scorpio to Kezar Stadium but fellow cop Frank DiGiorgio can’t climb the fence. “Go on out and get some air, fatso,” Callahan tells him, then blasts a .44 magnum round that wounds the killer, who has kidnapped a young girl.

“Please! No more! I’m hurt! Can’t you see I’m hurt?” Scorpio says. “You shot me! Please, don’t, don’t! Let me have a doctor, let me have a doctor. Please, get me the doctor! Don’t kill me!”

“The girl, where is she?” Callahan says. 

“You tried to kill me!”

“If I tried that, your head would be splattered all over this field. Now, where’s the girl?”

“I want a lawyer,” the killer whines, “I have the rights to a lawyer!” 

Callahan is more concerned about the rights of victims, particularly their right to life. That put “Dirty Harry” at odds with liberals and leftists who championed the rights of criminals. Scorpio hijacks a busload of children but Dirty Harry blows him away, without regard to any rights the killer may have had.

Dirty cops were Callahan’s target in the 1973 “Magnum Force,” and Eastwood played Dirty Harry in “The Enforcer,” 1976, “Sudden Impact,” 1983, and “The Dead Pool” in 1988. Later in his career as a director, Eastwood turned to cinéma vérité

In 2015, AK-47 toting terrorist Ayoub El Khazzani boarded a French train determined to kill as many people as possible. American passengers Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alex Skarlatos knew which way they would run. The trio disarmed and tied up the terrorist then saved the life of the man he shot. 

The French gave them the Léegion d’honneur, France’s highest decoration, and in 2018 Clint Eastwood cast the Americans as themselves in “The 15:17 to Paris.” No American filmmaker had ever done anything like that. Eastwood also spotted the FBI’s attempt to frame security guard Richard Jewell for a bomb at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. 

That became 2019’s “Richard Jewell,” a film that dramatizes the same tactics James Comey, Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe and others at the FBI deployed against candidate and President Trump. So nearly half a century after “Dirty Harry,” Clint Eastwood is still throwing down with the bad guys, even if they wore suits and worked for the FBI. This institution has a problem, as Americans suffering violence from Antifa can attest.

Current FBI boss Christopher Wray, who was never an FBI agent, claims Antifa is “not a group or an organization.” True to form, the FBI was little in evidence during Antifa’s 2020 surge of arson and deadly violence. Note that it was the U.S. Marshals, not the FBI, that took down leftist thug Michael Reinoehl, who murdered Aaron J. Danielson, a patriotic type smeared as “far right.” 

No word whether Clint Eastwood plans a film on this story. On the other hand, we know how Dirty Harry would have handled Reinoehl. 

“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 kinda lost track myself. But being as 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 ya, punk?”

That’s how it went down in 1971. Fifty years later in 2021, it’s time to give Clint Eastwood the respect he deserves.

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About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images