Today, we wish a happy 89th birthday to the one and only Clint Eastwood!
At this point of his career (from which he says he is now semi-retired), Clint Eastwood has become an American icon. In many ways, his persona epitomizes all of the contrasts and extremes of the American experience. A political conservative who specializes in playing taciturn and rather grouchy men, he is also one of our most humanistic directors, specializing in films that often question the traditional view of history and morality. He may have first become a star in Europe but Clint Eastwood is definitely an American original.
In honor of his birthday, I’m sharing a scene that I love from 1971’s Dirty Harry. In this scene, Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) meets the Mayor of San Francisco (John Vernon). The mayor is concerned that there’s a psycho on the loose, gunning people down and demanding money. Callahan’s annoyed that he’s spent a lot of time sitting in a waiting room. Things pretty much go downhill from there.
There’s so much that I love about this scene. Both Eastwood and Vernon do a wonderful job playing off of each other. The Mayor may be in charge of the city but Callahan probably didn’t vote for him. One thing that I especially love about this scene is the look of annoyance that crosses Harry’s face whenever he’s interrupted.
And, of course, there’s that final line! Eastwood does a great job explaining Harry’s “policy” but ultimately, it’s Vernon’s “I think he’s got a point,” that provides the perfect closing note.
Happy birthday, Mr. Eastwood!