New and nifty dvds
Clint Eastwood Collection
(Dirty Harry, The Enforcer, Magnum Force, Sudden Impact, The Dead Pool)
Warner Home Video ($79.92)
Growing up, I always had a hard time reconciling the Don Siegel that directed 1971's Dirty Harry with the far more popular (around my house, anyway) Don Siegel that directed 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Both films took place in Northern California towns -- Snatchers in fictional Santa Mira, Harry in marginally less fictional San Francisco -- but that's about all they had in common. Arriving at the dog-end of the Beatles revolution and hip-deep in the Vietnam quagmire and all that entailed, Siegel's brutal, alarmingly nihilistic "Dirty" Harry Callahan, an SFPD inspector with a chip on his shoulder the size of an XXL body bag, echoed the confused sociology of his times, and kicked ass to boot. Four sequels of varying degrees of success followed, notably 1973's Magnum Force, penned by a young John Milius and Michael Cimino (!). Watching the films now is a bit of a head trip; the first film is so aggressively of its time, with the hawkish Harry blustering his way through a San Francisco populated by the post-Sixties walking wounded, while 1988's The Dead Pool features some clown named "James" Carrey and the redoubtable Liam Neeson, and The Enforcer offers up a youngish Tyne Daly as Harry's woefully mismatched partner (yuks abound, somewhat). Finally, though, it's all about Clint Eastwood's charged characterization of Harry, a taciturn and hard-edged borderline lunatic with a very big gun and the badge to back it up. There's a metaphor for man and his place in a changing society wrapped up in there somewhere, along with enough Freudian grist to fill out a dozen theses, but there's also no mistaking the series' gleeful misappropriation of fun. Apart from the five films, Warner has rounded out this collection with a handful of mini-docs, two of which have been resurrected from the vaults (Harry Callahan/Clint Eastwood: Something Special in Films and The Hero Cop: Yesterday and Today), as well the slick, newly minted Dirty Harry: The Original, plus interviews, the usual star bios and trailers, and a complete digital remixing and remastering for all five films.