The Enforcer (1976) – James Fargo

Clint Eastwood returns as ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan for a third time in The Enforcer, the only film in the series not to have music by Lalo Schifrin (Jerry Fielding takes over giving us a jazzy sounding film score) and for the only time, pairs Callahan with a female homicide detective, Kate Moore, played by Tyne Daly, which led directly to her being cast in the cop drama series, Cagney & Lacey.

This time around Harry is after a militant group that is threatening to blow San Francisco apart, and takes the mayor (John Crawford) hostage. Harry is still very focused on keeping the law, or at least recognising the need for justice, and delivering it, whether right or wrong, but I came to a realisation…

… Callahan is very much an iconic Republican, a white male, homophobic, racist, loves his gun(s), has a low opinion of women in the work force. Sure he comes down on the side of the people, and eschews undue attention, but he’s very much working from a place of white privilege.

There are some action beats, but it feels like there aren’t quite as many moments as are in other action films of the time, even that of the preceding films in the series.

Eastwood is still awesome as the character, and Harry’s steely glare is very welcome on the screen (but probably less so in the real world) taking out the baddies, who admittedly, in this film, are angry white men (in fact, Harry goes out of his way to try to a Black Panther like organisation, only because he’d made a deal with their leader, Mustapha (Albert Popwell – who had played different characters in the previous Dirty Harry films).

Pairing Callahan with Dyne’s Moore is a smart move, and for the most part, she holds her own, and proves her mettle easily, but obviously certain things MUST happen with the character otherwise she would have to be back should the series continue (which it did in 1983, seven years later, with Sudden Impact).

Despite only the difference of three years since the previous film, Magnum Force, Eastwood seems a little older, and despite the previous film giving a bit of a glimpse into Harry’s personal life, there’s no real character development for Callahan this time around.

Instead the story movies from plot point to plot point, inserting the occasional action beat, and some nods to police procedure, all set against the backdrop of San Fran.

I still enjoy these films, but re-watching them today, I have to say this film is the weakest of the series of the three so far. But Harry will be back…

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