Dirty Harry: A Guilty Pleasure where the Simple Solution Persists

Clint Eastwood in five movies between 1971 and 1988 (Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, The Dead Pool) did what has to be seen as a guilty pleasure: Here was the law dispensing justice in a way that often bypassed the complexities of the legal process and in the end the problem was solved. Villains came across in these movies often as caricatures where the audience could easily get behind Harry as he did his thing. When looking at these movies from the present, in one way, they seem to come from a different era, a different time, yet, at the same time, the simplicity of justice seems to echo Donald Trump’s approach to basically any policy he wants to address: There will be no consequences, we do something and suddenly the problem is solved and America is a better place. If only things were that simple, the Dirty Harry legacy lives on.

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