Film Review: The Enforcer (1976)

Also known as: Moving Target, Dirty Harry III (working titles)
Release Date: December 16th, 1976 (London premiere)
Directed by: James Fargo
Written by: Stirling Silliphant, Dean Riesner, Gail Morgan Hickman, S.W. Schurr
Based on: characters by Harry Julian Fink, R.M. Fink
Music by: Jerry Fielding
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Bradford Dillman, Tyne Daly, John Mitchum, DeVeren Bookwalter, Albert Popwell, John Crawford, Dick Durock, Jocelyn Jones

The Malpaso Company, Warner Bros., 96 Minutes

Review:

“I’ll tell you what you are to me, little man. You’re just a maggot who sells dirty pictures.” – ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan

By the time you get to the third film in a movie series, one would usually expect the quality to start waning. However, Death Wish 3 has the greatest action finale of any movie ever made, so maybe Dirty Harry 3 a.k.a. The Enforcer would follow suit.

Well, this is no Death Wish 3 and it’s also not Dirty Harry 1 but I do like it slightly better than Dirty Harry 2 a.k.a. Magnum Force and thought that it was a very worthy sequel that kept the Harry character relevant.

This film gets away from the “system is broken” plot line that was featured so heavily in the first two movies. Sure, we see an idiot mayor and city officials that run the town like morons but this is also San Francisco and we all know how that city turned out in the future: hobo poop and dirty needles everywhere.

Anyway, this film focuses on a different political message in that it forces Harry to have to team up with a new partner: a woman. This woman is played by Tyne Daly of Cagney & Lacey fame and I’ve always kind of liked her, so it was cool seeing her play another female cop, albeit younger than she would be by the time that television show rolled around.

The story is about a group of extreme revolutionaries that steal some high grade military shit and start terrorizing the town. There is a subplot featuring black militants, as they are set up by the mayor’s people to take the fall. This is also done to give credit to Harry and his new female partner, which the mayor uses to “prove” that his feminist cop initiative is a success. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with Harry or the female cop, especially since Harry worked out a deal with the leader of the black militants minutes before they were arrested.

As should be expected, this is an action heavy film and it moves at a much better pace due to its shorter running time. I like the bad guys, the subplots, Harry is still Harry, Tyne Daly is really good and I dug the finale, as it takes place at Alcatraz.

Sadly, Tyne Daly gets killed in the end, which was predictable but also cost the series a really good co-star. Her chemistry with Clint Eastwood was good and I really wanted to see her grow over the course of future films.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the other Dirty Harry movies, as well as the Death Wish series.