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Dirty Harry (1971) District Attorney Scene

by Phil Ethington

In this scene Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is informed by the District Attorney Rpthko (Josef Sommer) that because Callahan had violated so many laws protecting suspects' rights during arrest and detention, the serial killer "Scorpio" will be released. From beginning to end of this scene, Rothko represents the "liberal" Warren Court rulings, Escobedo and Miranda are both named specifically. Written and produced at the hight of Nixon's Law and Order campaign, the Dirty Harry script is practically a verbatim restatement of the Law and Order attack on the limitations placed on law enforcement in the 1960s. Dirty Harry is not just a tough cop: he represents the Republican position in 1971: that cops should be given full freedom to get tough on criminals. In this view, suspects' "rights" are a joke. Cops know well enough when they have a real bad guy, and real bad guys deserve to be either beaten, tortured to give up evidence, or summarily shot. The scene justifies naked state violence by portraying the criminal procedure protections as only helpful to criminals.

Dirty Harry (1971) District Attorney Scene

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Dirty Harry (Warner Bros. 1971), Produced and Directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood. The District Attorney scene follows Dirty Harry Callahan's successful capture of the serial killer "Scorpio."

from Dirty Harry (Warner Bros. 1971) (1971)
Creator: Dirty Harry (Warner Bros. 1971), Produced and Directed by Don Siegel.
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Posted by Phil Ethington