• Golden Globe Awards

Out of the Archives: Clint Eastwood on Movie Violence

Clint Eastwood spoke with the journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press in 1973 about playing San Francisco police detective Harry Callahan in Don Siegel’s Dirty Harry and Magnum Force, directed by Ted Post.
“One critic made some remark about the first Dirty Harry being a Fascist masterpiece or something like that, but it wasn’t that at all. There are certain types of people who like to put a political connotation on everything that’s made, and that’s not true. Harry was an individual fighting against his superiors to solve a case in six hours, and he was frustrated with the red tape in the courts. When we put out Dirty Harry, we were the first movie in some time that discussed and even pondered the rights of the victims of violent crime. Now people are trying to put the brakes on some of the permissive juggling of the courts with criminals that went on in the 60s.”
Magnum Force is almost the other side of the coin. Harry is placed in a position of seeing this ultra-rightist organization within the police force, that may be assassinating people whom he feels aren’t any benefit to society anyway, but he sees the danger of where this all goes to. This is what happens when such an elite group of men, all very educated and very talented with weapons, they seem to be the ideal policemen, but they have gone too far to the extreme.”
“I am not pro-violence, but when you’re telling a drama, a segment of life, unfortunately, most dramas include a certain amount of physical action and violence, unless you’re doing a soap opera. I had lunch with a really well thought of psychiatrist the other day and I asked him, ‘Do you feel that when people see a violent movie, it inspires them to go out and commit acts of violence?’ And he felt that it was not true, except in the case of an extremely ill person to begin with, who’s schizophrenic or prone to that sort of thing, and then it might have some effect.” 
“I’ve never seen a movie that made me want to go out and do anything in my life.  I saw Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee the night before last, which has a lot of action, but I didn’t feel like going out and hitting anybody afterward. I don’t think seeing violence in movies influences a normal healthy person at all.” 
“Everybody is very concerned about the proliferation of guns in the United States, but there are so many that there’s not much you can do about it now. Gun control has to be about getting them out of the criminal element, making it a very serious crime and not something that you can bargain out of every time a person is committing a crime with a gun. Governor Pat Brown in California has initiated a law where they would have mandatory sentences for violent crimes, which has been an awfully long time coming, but now people are getting very conscious of that.”