Author Topic: Clint Eastwood  (Read 12630 times)

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cine

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Re: Clint Eastwood
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2003, 01:30:28 PM »
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Quote from: godardian
but Dirty Harry is nothing to me.

Really? Eastwood's presence alone in films like that and in the Leone pictures are what's so memorable for me. The images of him stand out more than anything. But I do prefer him as a director.

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Re: Clint Eastwood
« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2003, 03:07:04 PM »
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Quote from: Cinephile
Quote from: godardian
but Dirty Harry is nothing to me.

Really? Eastwood's presence alone in films like that and in the Leone pictures are what's so memorable for me. The images of him stand out more than anything. But I do prefer him as a director.


I completely agree. Dirty Harry was a great movie and he pulled off the character like no other actor could have.

I haven't seen much of his directing, but from what I have seen, it is very impressive.  I will always like him as an actor and director. I don't know which one I prefer, because both are strong in their own way.

rustinglass

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« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2003, 03:32:56 PM »
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Your avatar is hilarious, Gloria
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soixante

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« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2003, 03:56:03 PM »
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Dirty Harry (along with French Connection) is the paradigm for all police movies that have been made since 1971.  It also revealed the counter-reaction to the counter-culture of the late 60's and early 70's, a more conservative strain of philosophy that could be found in the films of John Milius, Michael Cimino and Paul Schrader.  Dirty Harry also divided critics into pro-Eastwood camps (led by Richard Schickel) and anti-Eastwood critics (led by Pauline Kael).  For better or worse, Dirty Harry represents a mythic vision of American manhood -- carrying a large gun, disrespecting bureaucratic meddling yet upholding the spirit of the law, strong, silent, equipped with a laconic sense of humor.  By any measure, Dirty Harry is one of the most important films of the past 40 years.
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godardian

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« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2003, 03:59:05 PM »
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Quote from: soixante
Dirty Harry (along with French Connection) is the paradigm for all police movies that have been made since 1971.  It also revealed the counter-reaction to the counter-culture of the late 60's and early 70's, a more conservative strain of philosophy that could be found in the films of John Milius, Michael Cimino and Paul Schrader.  Dirty Harry also divided critics into pro-Eastwood camps (led by Richard Schickel) and anti-Eastwood critics (led by Pauline Kael).  For better or worse, Dirty Harry represents a mythic vision of American manhood -- carrying a large gun, disrespecting bureaucratic meddling yet upholding the spirit of the law, strong, silent, equipped with a laconic sense of humor.  By any measure, Dirty Harry is one of the most important films of the past 40 years.


"Important" not necessarily meaning "good."

In for better or worse, it's clear to me that it's worse. I'm completely with Pauline on this one.

I'm also not sure I would put Paul Schrader in with the other "conservative" philosophers...
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

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« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2003, 04:09:35 PM »
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anti-Dirty Harry shouldn't be the same as anti-Eastwood

soixante

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« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2003, 04:11:20 PM »
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Quote from: godardian
Quote from: soixante
Dirty Harry (along with French Connection) is the paradigm for all police movies that have been made since 1971.  It also revealed the counter-reaction to the counter-culture of the late 60's and early 70's, a more conservative strain of philosophy that could be found in the films of John Milius, Michael Cimino and Paul Schrader.  Dirty Harry also divided critics into pro-Eastwood camps (led by Richard Schickel) and anti-Eastwood critics (led by Pauline Kael).  For better or worse, Dirty Harry represents a mythic vision of American manhood -- carrying a large gun, disrespecting bureaucratic meddling yet upholding the spirit of the law, strong, silent, equipped with a laconic sense of humor.  By any measure, Dirty Harry is one of the most important films of the past 40 years.


"Important" not necessarily meaning "good."

In for better or worse, it's clear to me that it's worse. I'm completely with Pauline on this one.

I'm also not sure I would put Paul Schrader in with the other "conservative" philosophers...


Have you watched Schrader's 70's films lately?  Blue Collar has nothing positive to say about labor unions.  Compare it to Norma Rae in 1979, in which labor unions are depicted in a very rosy light.  

Hardcore takes a very dim view of the porn industry.  Pauline Kael took the film to task for being so moralistic.  In fact, Milius executive produced Hardcore.

Schrader's midwestern, Calvinist sense of guilt and shame permeates all of his work.
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godardian

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« Reply #22 on: November 24, 2003, 04:24:45 PM »
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Quote from: soixante
Quote from: godardian
Quote from: soixante
Dirty Harry (along with French Connection) is the paradigm for all police movies that have been made since 1971.  It also revealed the counter-reaction to the counter-culture of the late 60's and early 70's, a more conservative strain of philosophy that could be found in the films of John Milius, Michael Cimino and Paul Schrader.  Dirty Harry also divided critics into pro-Eastwood camps (led by Richard Schickel) and anti-Eastwood critics (led by Pauline Kael).  For better or worse, Dirty Harry represents a mythic vision of American manhood -- carrying a large gun, disrespecting bureaucratic meddling yet upholding the spirit of the law, strong, silent, equipped with a laconic sense of humor.  By any measure, Dirty Harry is one of the most important films of the past 40 years.


"Important" not necessarily meaning "good."

In for better or worse, it's clear to me that it's worse. I'm completely with Pauline on this one.

I'm also not sure I would put Paul Schrader in with the other "conservative" philosophers...


Have you watched Schrader's 70's films lately?  Blue Collar has nothing positive to say about labor unions.  Compare it to Norma Rae in 1979, in which labor unions are depicted in a very rosy light.  

Hardcore takes a very dim view of the porn industry.  Pauline Kael took the film to task for being so moralistic.  In fact, Milius executive produced Hardcore.

Schrader's midwestern, Calvinist sense of guilt and shame permeates all of his work.


Well, Fassbinder was also harshly critical of what passed for the Left in his milieu- that didn't mean he was against the idea so much as that he was trying to be honest in his work and figure out why people always seem to fail ideas. I think something similar could be said of Schrader.

In fact, Schrader himself, when speaking of Blue Collar, sounds most Fassbinderian:

"Just the self-destructiveness of the metaphor that people would attack the organization that was supposed to defend them. And how that kind of dead-end mentality is fostered by the ruling class in order to keep the working class at odds with itself."

That hardly sounds conservative. Most conservatives, intent on pretending that class (working or ruling) doesn't exist here, would undoubtedly find Schrader's idea there radical and inflammatory.

What I'm really resisting here is the assertion that Paul Schrader- whose work I find rich, complex, and ultimately very, very humane- could ever be placed near the reactionary plane of something simplistic like Dirty Harry.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

soixante

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« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2003, 01:34:08 PM »
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While management is not depicted in a flattering light in Blue Collar, the union is just as bad.  They are pretty much unresponsive to the needs of the rank and file -- Zeke never gets his locker fixed, for example.

I don't think Schrader set out to make a conservative film -- he simply recorded life as it was lived back in the 70's.  Unions have always been sacrosanct in Hollywood -- whether in fictional films like Norma Rae or documentary films like Harlan County USA.  To depict unions in such an unfavorable way is unprecedented -- and also shows Schrader's willingness to seek out the truth, no matter where it leads.

I think that Taxi Driver, Hardcore and American Gigolo depict sexuality in a way that goes against the grain of the hedonistic culture of the 70's.
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godardian

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« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2003, 01:44:44 PM »
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Quote from: soixante


I think that Taxi Driver, Hardcore and American Gigolo depict sexuality in a way that goes against the grain of the hedonistic culture of the 70's.


I see what you're saying, though I find the American Psycho eighties infinitely more hedonistic. In fact, when it comes to the really great stuff of the seventies, I don't think of hedonism and partying and indulgence (all of which really reached their nadir in the despondent Reagan eighties) so much as a spirit of inquiry, exploration, and experimentation (something I consider Schrader a part of, and Eastwood not).

Successful (American) films in the seventies: Shampoo (which I view not as a mindless celebration of hedonism, but as a very thoughtful observation), Harold and Maude, Network, Nashville, Dog Day Afternoon, etc... I dunno, to me, Schrader fits in with all that. Even if those films aren't challenging the dominant ideology in the same exact way, I do think they all share that question-authority tone. In the eighties, we had what you could rightly call a reactionary-conservative nosedive: Top Gun, Fatal Attraction, Rambo, etc... I don't think you could jumble American Gigolo in with those, really. It still maintains a degree of moral ambivalence, modulation, and searching that is what I associate with the seventies.

Yes, I'm a Velvet Goldmine believer. I think there were very admirable, very noble things about the seventies that are now sorely missing. And though I'm a big fan of Affliction and Auto Focus, I consider Schrader's work of the time one of those things.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

soixante

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« Reply #25 on: November 26, 2003, 01:30:50 PM »
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The 70's were the richest period in American filmmaking history.  The films of the time reflected the cultural upheaval going on.  While Schrader was certainly part of all this, his work stood apart from everyone else's, because of his stern sense of morality -- even though his work was as rich and complex as anyone else's, Taxi Driver, Hardcore and American Gigolo upheld traditional values in the end.

Compare the protagonists of Easy Rider and Shampoo to Travis Bickle.  They are from L.A., they are hedonists, they live fast and loose, whereas Travis is from the Midwest, he feels sexual repression, and he feels alienated from the counter-culture (even though he goes to porno films, he has difficulty relating to people like Sport).

At the end of Shampoo, George's one true love, Jackie, leaves him for the rich Lester, which shows Towne's jaundiced view of romance in L.A., whereas Travis saves Iris and sends her back to her family in the Midwest.  There is at least a sliver of redemption in Taxi Driver, whereas in Shampoo we are given non-stop alienation (which is also evident in the work of Altman).

American Gigolo represents a transition from 70's subject to 80's style and treatment.  It is, after all, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, features the Giorgio Moroder disco score, and features slick production values.

Certainly the subject matter is very 70's -- male prostitution, at the Tiffany level.  In the beginning, the film takes moral rot for granted.  By the end, however, Julian Kay finds redemption the old-fashioned way -- he falls in love with a good woman.  He is "saved" from his promiscuous ways, and can now (presumably) lead a yuppie 80's lifestyle.

A friend of mine once noted that American Gigolo was great until the plot kicked in.  That is, the first 30 minutes are devoted to a fascinating exploration of an exotic lifestyle, and then the murder-blackmail plot turns the film into just another movie.  To me, this is a perfect metaphor for 80's filmmaking -- getting away from character studies and anthropolgical explorations and political statemtns, and focusing on telling streamlined stories (and revamping time-worn genres).

American Gigolo begins a trend that continued with subsequent 80's films like Body Heat, Jagged Edge and Fatal Attraction -- it signalled the end of the sexual revolution.  True, there was a great deal of hedonism in the 80's, perhaps more than in the 70's, but the cultural attitudes had changed.  No matter what people did privately, publicly buttoned-down traditional values were espoused (this smug hypocrisy was the target of American Psycho and Angels in America).  Schrader was the first filmmaker to sense that cultural change, which was in the air in the late 70's and would fully bear fruit in the 80's.
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« Reply #26 on: November 26, 2003, 02:03:52 PM »
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Quote from: godardian
Quote from: soixante
Quote from: godardian
Quote from: soixante
Dirty Harry (along with French Connection) is the paradigm for all police movies that have been made since 1971.  It also revealed the counter-reaction to the counter-culture of the late 60's and early 70's, a more conservative strain of philosophy that could be found in the films of John Milius, Michael Cimino and Paul Schrader.  Dirty Harry also divided critics into pro-Eastwood camps (led by Richard Schickel) and anti-Eastwood critics (led by Pauline Kael).  For better or worse, Dirty Harry represents a mythic vision of American manhood -- carrying a large gun, disrespecting bureaucratic meddling yet upholding the spirit of the law, strong, silent, equipped with a laconic sense of humor.  By any measure, Dirty Harry is one of the most important films of the past 40 years.


"Important" not necessarily meaning "good."

In for better or worse, it's clear to me that it's worse. I'm completely with Pauline on this one.

I'm also not sure I would put Paul Schrader in with the other "conservative" philosophers...


Have you watched Schrader's 70's films lately?  Blue Collar has nothing positive to say about labor unions.  Compare it to Norma Rae in 1979, in which labor unions are depicted in a very rosy light.  

Hardcore takes a very dim view of the porn industry.  Pauline Kael took the film to task for being so moralistic.  In fact, Milius executive produced Hardcore.

Schrader's midwestern, Calvinist sense of guilt and shame permeates all of his work.


Well, Fassbinder was also harshly critical of what passed for the Left in his milieu- that didn't mean he was against the idea so much as that he was trying to be honest in his work and figure out why people always seem to fail ideas. I think something similar could be said of Schrader.

In fact, Schrader himself, when speaking of Blue Collar, sounds most Fassbinderian:

"Just the self-destructiveness of the metaphor that people would attack the organization that was supposed to defend them. And how that kind of dead-end mentality is fostered by the ruling class in order to keep the working class at odds with itself."

That hardly sounds conservative. Most conservatives, intent on pretending that class (working or ruling) doesn't exist here, would undoubtedly find Schrader's idea there radical and inflammatory.

What I'm really resisting here is the assertion that Paul Schrader- whose work I find rich, complex, and ultimately very, very humane- could ever be placed near the reactionary plane of something simplistic like Dirty Harry.


Schrader, both in print and in his film, is also quick to point out that the very people screwing these laborers is their actual union boss. Schrader's getting everybody in this one, no one gets painted rosy, because he is a mature filmmaker who doesn't take clear sides. That's why he's one of my favorites. I've worked a union job, and I find that the two biggest problems in regards to the workers' well-being are:

1. general laziness and ignorance on the part of the workers themselves
2. general corruption of union bosses, who set up an "us vs them" mentality, in order to swoop in and clean house while everyone else slugs it out.

Of course there are many good men working the union, but I found these above comments to be indicative of the majority.
Those who say that the totalitarian state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary:  the rejection of civil society. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication.

When those who hated capital and consumption (and Jews) in the 20th century murdered some hundred million people, and the poster children for the struggle against international capitalism and America are now fanatical Islamic terrorists, this puts recent enthusiasts in an awkward position. Most of them are too dense and shameless to appreciate it, and far too many are taken in by the moralistic and paternalistic rhetoric of the Left.

godardian

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« Reply #27 on: November 26, 2003, 02:28:51 PM »
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Quote from: soixante
The 70's were the richest period in American filmmaking history.  The films of the time reflected the cultural upheaval going on.  While Schrader was certainly part of all this, his work stood apart from everyone else's, because of his stern sense of morality -- even though his work was as rich and complex as anyone else's, Taxi Driver, Hardcore and American Gigolo upheld traditional values in the end.


I guess that, particularly in the case of Taxi Driver, I just don't see that.

My strongest reaction here is to your comparison of Eastwood and Schrader, asserting that they are somehow from the same school. So the proper comparison is between Eastwood's Dirty Harry and Travis Bickle.

To begin with, I clearly see the seventies as less "hedonistic" than you do- and its cultural "upheavals" as having a very positive side- and Eastwood's films as much more reactionary. But to me, the differences between Dirty Harry and Taxi Driver is obvious: The former is a celebration of vigilantism and a complete rejection of contemporary society and its shifting mores (which it knee-jerk equates with crime and terror). It is so small-minded and black-and-white in its "morality" as to be stupid. The latter, on the other hand, sees Bickle's inability to cope as triggered by the outside world, perhaps, but just as reflective of something in him. The world may be turbulent, but his reaction to it is at times both pathologic and misdirected. Travis Bickle is emblematic of a much more complex, humane, and empathetic vision of the world and society than Dirty Harry is.

To the degree that American Gigolo is a precursor to those atrocious, sleazy-moralistic films of the eighties I mentioned before, it is a failure (which it is considerd to be by many critics). I don't believe Schrader's goal has ever been moralism, at least not in any simplistic way; his espoused goal for American Gigolo was to be a latter-day Pickpocket, mapping a spiritual journey and exploring human conscience.

The "sliver of redemption" you speak of in Taxi Driver is, to me, not the result of a moralistic impulse, but of a humane one. The girl is saved at great psychological/spiritual cost (via violence) to both herself and Bickle. There is little triumph in the violence; it is excruciating. On the other hand, there are no such "slivers of redemption" in Dirty Harry. It's all "get the bad guys." We're meant to cheer when the "evil" people are blown away. Which is fine and definitely part of a movie tradition, but the particular, vehement tone of that series of films, where the violence is its own vengeful reward and there is a definite sadistic pleasure in it, is what makes them, in my opinion, the dregs of its era.

The main difference I see between Dirty Harry and Schrader: Dirty Harry looks at the then-contemporary world and says, "If only everything could just go back to the way it was before. Everything was fine before. Nothing needed to change. These changes are wholly destructive, and somebody has to stop them."

Schrader says, "There is confusion and turbulence in the world. How does this affect us on a personal and spiritual level? What can we do to help ourselves and others get through it? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?" He doesn't dismiss the changes in some reactionary way; he sees them as troubling and disruptive, which of course they are, but he's simultaneously much more pragmatic and much more idealistic than the Dirty Harry stuff would ever think to come close to.

To summarize my opinions on this: Dirty Harry = Small-minded, simplistic, reactionary, pandering, and not a little dumb. Schrader = An important, hardly judgmental (or "moralistic") chronicler of the inner effects of a confusing outside world.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

godardian

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« Reply #28 on: November 26, 2003, 02:37:02 PM »
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Quote from: SoNowThen
because he is a mature filmmaker who doesn't take clear sides. That's why he's one of my favorites.


And don't you think it follows, too, that the people behind Dirty Harry fail to come near the quality, interest, or longevity of what Schrader has done exactly because they completely fail not to take painfully clear sides? I think they, completely unlike Schrader, made something very close to propaganda.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

soixante

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« Reply #29 on: November 26, 2003, 03:41:50 PM »
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Obviously, Taxi Driver is a richer character study than Dirty Harry.  Schrader is obviously a writer of great depth.  And if you read Pauline Kael's review of Dirty Harry, you'll find the most articulate criticism of that film that anyone's ever committed to print.

But read Richard Schickel's biography of Eastwood, in which he goes into great depth about Dirty Harry.  On the surface, Harry seems to represent the "law and order" and "silent majority" folks who elected Nixon in 1968.  He teases a black bank robber with the "well, do ya punk?" speech, he makes a racially disparaging remarks about his Hispanic partner, and the sniper is a seeming catch-all representative of the hippie movement (he even wears a peace sign belt buckle).

What many critics miss, I think, is that Harry has a dry wit.  One moment, he makes an inflammatory statement, the next he winks at the audience.

Oddly enough, there are a lot of parallels between Harry and Travis -- they are both trying to save young, innocent girls, they are both social outsiders, they are both lonely, they are both possessed with a sense of righteous anger, and they are alienated from modern, urban society.

Taxi Driver is a richer film because Travis' heroism has more ambiguity -- he originally plans to assassinate a Presidential candidate, then he decides to kill some pimps.  His urge to kill is socially acceptable, as long as the right targets get hit.

Still, there are interesting issues in Dirty Harry -- if Harry embodies law and order, why does he throw his badge away at the end?
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