Hollywood and the zeitgeist can be perfect strangers or bosom buddies.
Films like “Easy Rider” captured the Flower Power era like few movies before or since. “Blade Runner,” decades ahead of our dystopian cravings, flopped in 1982 before becoming a sci-fi classic.
And then there was “Dirty Harry.”
The 1971 smash arrived just as crime was spiking in cities like San Francisco, the setting for Clint Eastwood’s iconic franchise. “Dirty” Harry Callahan, tasked with taking down a sniper dubbed “Scorpio,” breaks most of the rules to get his “punk.”
The creative team let the real-life Zodiac killer, still at large when the movie hit theaters, influence the fictional villain. Sometimes snagging the zeitgeist requires a nudge.
Suffice to say the film rocked the box office and spawned four sequels.
We’re living in the golden age of reboots, remakes and “re-imaginings.” So what better time to bring Dirty Harry back, either the character himself or a doppelganger if the rights can’t be wrangled from Warner Bros.
Do you even need to ask why?
Crime is spiking, soaring and roaring across Big City, USA. Urban meccas like Seattle, Minneapolis, New York and more are seeing rising rates of murder, carjackings and thievery on steroids.
Chain stores are closing shop following countless unsolved, or ignored thefts. City officials who were scaling back police forces a year ago have reversed course, hoping we’ll forget their previous decisions.
Comedian Dave Landau described why he bolted the Big Apple to “You’re Welcome” podcaster Michael Malice recently, sharing tales of public sex and drug use on his daily commute. Similar stories are happening across the country.
Sure, we’re exhausted by Hollywood’s reliance on IPs (intellectual properties) but sometimes a reboot makes sense.
We need Dirty Harry. Again. Only it isn’t so simple.
The woke contingent would do everything in its power to snuff the project before it reached a single movie screen. The original film got slammed as “fascist” by film critics like Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert (the latter still gave the film three stars for its artistic merit).
“Fascist” might be the kindest comment about the project. Social justice types, and their allies in the mainstream press, would pressure the studio, stars and anyone attached to the film not to proceed as scheduled.
Sound conspiratorial? Consider the all-out war against Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcast or, just a few years ago, how activists made the team behind “Game of Thrones” give up on a show in which slavery never ended.
The death of George Floyd nearly two years ago turned Hollywood against the police. Networks canceled long-running shows like “Cops,” and the affable cop comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” got an extreme makeover to reflect the Black Lives Matter sentiment.
Cop stories, the kind TV studios have leaned on for decades, were suddenly problematic. That sentiment didn’t fade away over the past two years. Broadcast shows still cast cops in a withering light across the pop culture landscape.
You might as well pitch a Hunter Biden biopic (that film is actually happening, but it’s being shot by rabble-rousing artists Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney outside the Hollywood system).
A new “Dirty Harry” would face formidable headwinds beyond the studio gates.
Film scribes would turn on any new “Harry” project before cameras could start rolling. Recall the hostile press reaction to Bruce Willis’ 2018 “Death Wish” reboot.
A new “Harry” would require a producing team prepped for all of the above. So why bother? Because art can address societal ills in powerful, unexpected ways. Audiences deserve a cathartic path to process what it’s like to live in an increasingly dangerous America.
And it could rake in a ton of green.
Willis’ “Death Wish” did just the opposite. The timing wasn’t right, and Willis’ star power has been in free fall for some time.
Any such project would have to be greenlit ASAP. Movies take time from the very start to finish. So any new “Dirty Harry”-style thriller would have to act, and fast. The sad news? It’s doubtful today’s frightening crime rates will plummet any time soon.
Does a studio feel lucky, though, to make this project possible?
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.