Harry’s Disciples: ‘Magnum Force’ the Self-Critical Sequel

Harry Callahan’s next adventure originated with John Milius, Hollywood’s favorite gun fanatic, surfer and “Zen anarchist.” Milius wrote B Movies for American International Pictures before breaking through with two Westerns, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean and Jeremiah Johnson. His knack for macho action and pulpy, colorful dialogue fit Dirty Harry perfectly; Milius wrote his draft in 21 days, receiving a Purdey shotgun as payment.

Though uncredited, Milius claims credit for Harry‘s dialogue, especially the “Do I feel lucky?” monologue. Others, including Richard Schickel, credit Harry Julian Fink with that speech. Clint Eastwood marginalizes Milius’s contributions to the film, admitting “we might have taken a few good items John had in there.” Milius resented this: “Look at the movie and you tell me who wrote that,” he challenged an interviewer.

Milius soon moved past any hurt feelings. After reading several articles on Brazil’s “death
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Dead Right: How Dirty Harry Captured the ’70s Culture Wars

Part I.

1971 was an incredibly violent year for movies. That year saw, among others, Tom Laughlin’s Billy Jack, with its half-Indian hero karate-chopping rednecks; William Friedkin’s The French Connection, its dogged cops stymied by well-heeled drug runners; Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, banned for the copycat crimes it reportedly inspired; and Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, featuring the most controversial rape in cinema history. Every bloody shooting, sexual assault and death by penis statue reflected a world gone mad.

It seemed a reaction to America’s skyrocketing crime. Between 1963 and 1975, violent crimes tripled; riots, robberies and assassinations racked major cities. The antiwar and Civil Rights movements generated violent offshoots like the Weathermen and Black Panthers. Citizens blamed politicians like New York Mayor John Lindsay (the original “limousine liberal”), who proclaimed “Peace cannot be imposed on our cities by force of arms,” and Earl Warren’s Supreme Court,
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Studio Chills With "Ice Station Zebra"

Sneak Peek clips from the Oscar-nominated spy thriller "Ice Station Zebra", in anticipation of writer-director Christopher McQuarrie's upcoming Warners remake, based on the 1963 spy novel by author Alistair MacLean.

The original feature directed by John Sturges, starred Rock Hudson, Patrick McGoohan, Ernest Borgnine and Jim Brown, with a screenplay by MacLean, Douglas Heyes, Harry Julian Fink and W. R. Burnett, with a parallel to real-life events in 1959:

"...'Commander James Ferraday', captain of the nuclear submarine 'USS Tigershark' is dispatched to the polar ice region on a rescue mission when an emergency signal is received from research station, 'Ice Station Zebra'.

"On board the sub is a civilian and likely spy, 'David Jones', whose orders are secret. Along the way, they collect two additional passengers, a Russian named 'Boris Vaslov', likely also a spy, and 'Us Marine Capt. Leslie Anders' who takes command of the Marines traveling as passengers.
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“They’re Blowin’ This Town All To Hell!” — Sam Peckinpah And ‘The Wild Bunch’

Curiously, with all the bold, ambitious, fresh talent storming into Hollywood in the 1960s/1970s – directors who’d cut their teeth in TV like Sidney Lumet and John Frankenheimer; imports like Roman Polanski and Peter Yates; the first wave of film school “film brats” like Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese — one of the most popular genres during the period was one of Old Hollywood’s most traditional: the Western. But the Western often wrought at the hands of that new generation of moviemakers was rarely traditional.

During the Old Hollywood era, Westerns typically had been B-caliber productions, most of them favoring gunfights and barroom brawls over dramatic substance, and nearly all adhering to Western tropes which ran back to the pre-cinema days of dime novelist Ned Buntline. With the 1960s, however, the genre began to change; or, more accurately, expand, twist, and even invert.

To be sure, there would
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