[Gabe Liedman is a stand-up comedian. In his new column, he takes on the genre of Dude Flicks, where guns, pecs, car crashes and glib one-liners delivered in front of a burning building with only half a t-shirt on and nothing left to lose reign supreme. He loves those movies for so many reasons, all of which are that they turn him ON.]
Dirty Harry? More like Clint Nasty, all raised-beauty-mark and snarl, ten feet tall, and PISSED OFF. Thirty-nine years ago, before he was a hundred (with twice as many Oscars), Clint Eastwood was apparently the Cindy Crawford of bad boys: just gorgeous, and destined for greatness. In today’s Cinema Pour Homme, movies about a renegade cop who hates the fuck out of crime and doesn’t give a shit about what the Founding Wusses penned in their Bitchstitution are a dime a dozen; but, in the distant past when Dirty Harry came out, that idea was super-new and cool. So I Men in Black neuralized myself, and watched Dirty Harry with the clean slate of a 1971 retard, and girl, it was siiiiiiiiiiiick. Boom, boom, I’m under arrest!
It never even occurred to me to have a crush on Clint Eastwood. Earlier this year, I watched The Bridges of Madison County on the recommendation of a gal pal who swore that the sight of Clint, vintage camera slung over his shoulder, sipping lemonade in Meryl Streep’s bathtub, would give me a thrill. It. Did. Not. But, he wasn’t always a grandpa, and minus decades of direct sunshine, Clint was definitely a specimen of Hollywood’s schwinging past (a time before you needed double-D pecs and a 9-pack to be an extra in the movies). Here, he is lean, and angular, with some muscles, but not, like, ridiculous, strutting around in a stiff polyester suit, rocking his puffed-up cocoa-colored Murphy Brown ‘do like he’s the top and the world’s his bottom.
He plays Harry Callahan, or “Dirty” Harry to his enemies (EVERYONE IS HIS ENEMY). San Francisco’s being terrorized by Scorpio, a serial killer who picks people off with his sniper rifle from rooftops, like a real pussy. The first kill we see is a beautiful lady swimming in a very fancy swimming pool. Shouldn’t’ve done that, lady, it’s raining bullets. Harry wasn’t there to save her antiquely bikini’d ass, because he was across town eating a hot dog, when a bank got robbed and he had to handle that shit himself. As he delivers his famous “feeling lucky, punk?” line, Scorpio’s fled the scene, but left a note demanding a ton of cash from the city coffers.
Harry’s ready to rip Scorpio’s dick off once he finds out about him, but everyone around him is trying to slow him down with regulations and protocol. Plus, he’s gotta break in a brand new partner (his old one got all shot up), Chico Gonzalez, a pouty Latino college boy played by Reni Santori (Poppie from Seinfeld). Dirty Harry better break that pouty Latino college boy in real good…
The cops communicate to Scorpio, via a personal ad in the newspaper, that they will give him the money, but they need some time to scrounge it up. Scorpio DOESN’T LIKE THAT PERSONAL AD, so he decides to sniper someone from some rooftop as a sort of tantrum. He’s got some strangers in his crosshairs when all of a sudden a police helicopter catches him and is like “don’t do that!” and he runs away without murdering anyone (or being arrested).
Dirty Harry and Chico the Cute cruise the streets San Francisco later that night looking for
anal Scorpio, and think they see him, but end up following some random dude home and watching him help his corpulent girlfriend take her sweater off. Then, across town, other cops think they’ve found Scorpio, but instead it’s some sniveling suicide-pansy threatening to throw himself off a building. Dirty Harry mocks the asshole callously until he decides he’d rather live than die (works for high school bullies?).
The next day, some 10-year-old kid gets his face blown off by Scorpio, and the cops all figure out which rooftop the psycho’s using as his office. Dirty Harry and Chico the Cute decide to stake it out that night, and wait until Scorpio shows up. In the meantime, Dirty Harry watches, through his binoculars, some fit, naked hippie chick hang out with her friend who is Janis Joplin for Halloween.
Finally, Scorpio shows up and Dirty Harry tries to blow his sick head off, but Scorpio escapes, and decides to kick things up a notch.
Scorpio kidnaps a teenage girl, rips out one of her teeth, steals her underpants and bra, and buries her alive. Jesus fucking Christ. He also demands twice as much money as before, which the cops tell Dirty Harry he should deliver to Scorpio later that night at the docks. But, when Dirty Harry gets to the docks, Scorpio’s not there, and leads him on an epic cross-city run from payphone to payphone, with Chico the Cute following in a car and listening along (Dirty Harry is wearing a wire).
Scorpio makes Dirty Harry meet him in a cruisy park with a giant cross in it. First Dirty Harry meets a homosexual who’s looking for homosex and calls himself Alice, so Dirty Harry tells him to go home and kill himself, literally. Then Dirty Harry and Scorpio meet up under the cross; Scorpio beats Dirty Harry up (crazy, right?) and then tells him he’s going to kill the buried teenager even though Dirty Harry has done everything he asked him to do. Chico the Cute doesn’t like this turn of events at all, and sneaks up to murder Scorpio with his gun; this distracts Scorpio for long enough for Dirty Harry to stab him in the leg and take the ransom money back. Chico the Cute gets shot, but survives, and Scorpio limps off without the cash, while Dirty Harry struggles with some broken ribs.
Later that night, some creepy hospital said Scorpio came in to get his stab wound taken care of, and the doctor even directs Dirty Harry to Scorpio’s “house”—the football stadium in San Francisco, whatever the fuck it’s called. Dirty Harry’s had it with Scorpio, so he goes over to his gigantic “house” with a million plastic seats in it that all face the center, which is a huge field with lines and numbers on it, and breaks the fuck in. He finds Scorpio and arrests him, after stomping sadistically on his stab wound.
But, since Dirty Harry wipes his butt with the Fourth Assmendment, he didn’t deign to get a warrant before arresting Scorpio, and the sick fuck walks free the next day.
Dirty Harry doesn’t like that shit at all, so he decides to use his me-time to stalk Scorpio and remind him he’s only as free as Dirty Harry says he is. Scorpio notices Dirty Harry following him in a tittie bar, late at night, and decides to pay someone to beat his face in, so he can blame it on Dirty Harry. Dirty Harry woulda done it for free, foolio. Scorpio boo-hoo’s all the way to the Gotcha Media, but no one believes Dirty Harry beat him up so bad and didn’t kill him. So, Scorpio robs a gun store, and takes a bus full of schoolchildren hostage, with their butchy female driver in tow.
He gives the city one more chance to pay him his damn cash, which everyone agrees would be best, exceptnodoy for Dirty Harry. Instead of delivering Scorpio the cash he wants so badly, Dirty Harry jumps off a bridge onto the top of the school bus, then shoots the fuck out of Scorpio in a gravel mine. Just before he delivers the fatal bullet, Dirty Harry recites (line for line) his “are you feeling lucky, punk?” monologue, thus wrapping this symphony of a dude-flick up in a bow made of steak.
In the final moments of the movie, Dirty Harry takes out his badge and throws it the fuck away, as if to say “it is I who truly feels lucky, like a lucky punk with a gun for a dick.” And so, every cop movie since has adjusted its attitude, just as I had to adjust my position on the couch to prevent my jeans from exploding.