Dirty Harry and the Urban Frontier
Chapter 3 explores the emergence of the contemporary crimefighter, especially its rogue variant, Dirty Harry, as a response to social unrest of the late 1960s. Clint Eastwood serves as a pivotal figure who transfers his cowboy persona befitting the mythic nineteenth century West to the streets of San Francisco, where a counterculture was challenging the status quo. As the Vietnam War gave way to Reagan’s “morning in America,” the hyper-masculine “hard bodies” emerge to dominate in the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon franchises. Such films often showcase the Other as sidekicks and “buddies” to their white partners—still the star attraction. Finally, films such as Fort Apache the Bronx and TV’s Hill Street Blues establish precinct life as a microcosm of the larger, troubled society.