CLINT EASTWOOD--A WOMAN'S
When I interviewed Clint Eastwood in 1976
for The New York Times, he expressed approval for Women's Lib and
promised there would be a big part for an actress in his next film,
"The Gauntlet." He kept his word, and the role went to
Sondra Locke, who no longer regards Eastwood
as a woman's best friend.--GUY FLATLEY
is a fantastic character," said Clint Eastwood, his husky voice
cool and reasonable. "Nobody knows what Harry does. He cuts
right through the bull, tells his boss to shove it, does all the
things people would like to do in real life, but cant."
The lean and muscular movie star is just wild about Harry Callahan,
a bull-tempered police detective with a penchant for taking the
law into his own trigger-happy hands when faced with the red tape
and time-consuming intricacies of the democratic system. Detective
Callahan, of course, is the puritanically violent hero of Mr. Eastwoods
potent box-office hits, "Dirty Harry" and "Magnum
Force," and now "The Enforcer," opening here on Wednesday.
"Harry is a terribly honest character and I like that,"
said Eastwood, calling from Hollywood. "Hes not a political
animal, and he doesnt understand political intrigue. Hes
like the moderator in Network who goes on television
and says the public has taken all the bull it can take and it wont
take anymore. Harry just wants to do his job."
According to some alarmed observers, Dirty Harrys shoot-now-ask-questions-later
approach to his job smacks of fascism.
"Thats silly," Eastwood said with polite pique.
"In 1971, when Dirty Harry came out, people were
coming off of that big 60s concern with the rights of the
accused, but after a while they began to ask, What about the
rights of the victim? What about the woman who was raped, the child
who was murdered? What about their rights? Dirty Harry
was ahead of its time.
"Harry thought that if a homicidal maniac could be sent back
into the streets because of a technicality, there was something
wrong with the law. The fact that you dont agree with every
law in this country doesnt make you a fascist. Harry believed
in a higher morality, just as the Americans did at the Nuremberg
trials when we convicted people because they didnt believe
in a higher morality, people who conducted themselves according
to the climate of the time."
current climate in America has been conditioned immeasurably by
the womens movement, and Dirty Harry himself is bowled over,
albeit reluctantly, by the prowess of a policewoman under pressure
in "The Enforcer." Although the role of the forceful female,
played by Tyne Daly, is a supporting role, Eastwood promises there
will be a substantial part for a woman in "The Gauntlet,"
the adventure story that he will direct and star in next spring.
"Im always looking for parts for ladies," he declared,
"but I do think it would be kind of sad if womens lib
was the thing that influenced you to like the feminine species.
When I was a kid, I loved all those movies with Davis and Crawford,
and the ones showing a brisk relationship between a woman and a
man, like Stanwyck and MacMurray in Double Indemnity.
If one or two movies like that come on the market again and make
it big, therell be lots more of them. Movie financiers will
jump on any bandwagon that works for them."
Lately theyve jumped on the violence bandwagon, prompted perhaps
by the enriching ride of such rapid-fire, bang-up thrillers as "Dirty
Harry" and "Magnum Force."
"I dont think violence is the sole selling point of any
film," Eastwood said. "If a story is tough and violent,
it has to be told that way. The basis of any story is conflict,
and a lot of conflict is violent. If we begin to censor violence,
then wed better take a serious look at the Old Testament,
and then go on to the Greeks, with their gruesome disembowelments,
and to Shakespeare."
Speaking of the classics Steve McQueen, another high-salaried
macho star, recently shook Hollywood to its platinum roots by announcing
that he would play the plodding, bespectacled protagonist in a low-budget
movie of Ibsens "An Enemy of the People." Does Eastwood
share his fellow actors craving for culture?
"Ill try anything if the story makes sense," he
said after a moments reflection. "For McQueen, its
a noble effort, but Im not sure that particular role would
be right for me. I happen to like adventure films. Im in the
entertainment business, and I dont want to play to an empty