A good piece of trivia regarding the Clint Eastwood film Dirty Harry would be that it was the primary foundation of the blueprint drawn up by the architects of the Bush administration in regard to how they planned to frame their concept of the justice system in America. As far as I know this is not an authentic piece of trivia about Dirty Harry, but it sure has the tinge of believability to it, doesn’t it? Imagine an entire country of Dirty Harry style law enforcement officials who don’t have any need for warrants or even suspicion. Well, hey, why bother imagining; just look out your window.
While we can only assume that John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales developed their concept of American justice and their respect for the United States Constitution from having watched Dirty Harry endlessly, there are some bits of trivia regarding the film about the San Francisco cop with the enormous .44 caliber penis substitute that is not up for intuition but is backed by cold hard facts. Dirty Harry contains some quite fascinating trivia about the ways that Hollywood blockbusters are cast and produced. For instance, today it seems as if Dirty Harry Callahan was pretty much written for the then-registered Republican (and now Republican-leaning “libertarian) Clint Eastwood. The fact that a registered Republican eventually landed the role of the fascistic police officer who never allowed Constitutional rights and civil liberties to get in his way should not be surprising. John Wayne is said to have been often quoted as turning down the role of Harry Callahan. One can only imagine that Dirty Harry was simply too liberal for the Duke, but that’s pure conjecture on my part. Probably John Wayne simply felt he was too old for the part and he definitely would have been. The most surprising bit of trivia related to Dirty Harry may be that Frank Sinatra was offered the part as well. Of course, the Chairman of the Mafia Board had politics equitable to Dirty Harry AND Clint Eastwood, so that’s not surprising, but pudgy Frank Sinatra as a cop who could intimidate a serial killer. Not in this lifetime. I think Sinatra probably must have passed because he knew no serial killer would ever be afraid of him, although he officially blamed it on a hand injury. Along with Sinatra went the original choice for a director of Dirty Harry, Irvin Kershner. Kershner’s claim to fame, of course, was to direct the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. The really weird thing about Dirty Harry is that Paul Newman was approached. Newman’s politics have definitely been leftward of Dirty Harry which is probably why he suggested Clint Eastwood would be the better choice.
Speaking of casting, it is hard to imagine anybody other Andrew Robinson as the Scorpio killer. Robinson has since gone on to be one of the most dependable and versatile actors in Hollywood and it is one of the many, many, many shames of the Emmy Award voters that he never won an Emmy for his brilliant performances on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Garak. Hard as it is to believe, allegedly World War II hero and World War II movie star Audie Murphy was tapped to play the Scorpio killer. Unfortunately for Murphy and fortunately for Andrew Robinson (and moviegoers) Audie Murphy died in a plane crash before filming actually began on Dirty Harry. Clint Eastwood’s politics may be goofy as hell, but the man knows talent and it was Eastwood who suggested Robinson for the role of the Scorpio killer. Unfortunately, and you must remember this was the early 70’s, Andrew Robinson was a genuine practicing pacifist. When it came time to shoot the gun, Robinson had trouble pulling the trigger convincingly because he reacted like a peacenik would to the sound of a weapon going off the sole purpose of which is harm another human being. Robinson required a week of training in order to become proficient at shooting without seeming like a wimp. I told you the guy was a helluva actor. Would you have believed that trivia possible? In fact, so believable was Andrew Robinson as a violent nut that he had to have phone number changed because he kept getting death threats from, probably, doped-up lunatics who thought he really was a serial killer.
Interestingly, the politics of Dirty Harry was explicitly alluded to in the original working title of the film: Dead Right.