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Author Topic: Was Briggs testing Harry?  (Read 2525 times)
herofan
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« on: August 28, 2011, 03:55:49 PM »

It appears that Briggs was against Harry throughout Magnum Force; however, due to Harry's style and reputation, one might have thought he would have been the perfect person to join them.  Did Briggs appear to test Harry to determine if he would have joined them, or did he simply "know" Harry would not go for this type of vigilantism? 
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KC
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2011, 04:09:58 PM »

The "death squad cops" actually asked him, but I think Briggs knew better.
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Doug
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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2011, 07:41:14 AM »

I think they all misjudged Harry.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2011, 07:47:25 AM by Doug » Logged

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herofan
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« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2011, 06:29:37 PM »

Didn't Harry enjoy the "kill" as well?  The difference was that he just needed justification in his mind that was somewhat within the law.  He didn't go around killing just for pleasure like a murderer, but if he was given a reason by a law-breaker, you knew there were going to be a lot of body bags.  He wasn't much for yelling "stick 'em up" and taking prisoners. 

In "Dirty Harry," the DA asked Harry how he knew the guy would kill again, and Harry replied, "Because he likes it."  Wasn't he drawing somewhat from his own inner feelings to help him understand Scorpio? 
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KC
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« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2011, 06:56:47 PM »

Those are very good points, Herofan! Though in fact, Harry is almost never in a situation where he could arrest a bad guy even if he wanted to; he always has to act immediately with deadly force to preserve his own life or the lives of innocent people. But then he never hesitates.

In popular culture, a character the audience identifies with is almost always justified in whatever havoc he wreaks, up to and including killing. That way, the audience can have the secret pleasure of enjoying the killing along with him.

One of the things that makes Unforgiven so different from the usual genre film is that it doesn't let the audience feel that all of Munny's killing is justified ... they don't all "have it coming." Or as Munny puts it to Little Bill: "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."
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herofan
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« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2011, 07:35:17 PM »

Those are very good points, Herofan! Though in fact, Harry is almost never in a situation where he could arrest a bad guy even if he wanted to; he always has to act immediately with deadly force to preserve his own life or the lives of innocent people. But then he never hesitates.

In popular culture, a character the audience identifies with is almost always justified in whatever havoc he wreaks, up to and including killing. That way, the audience can have the secret pleasure of enjoying the killing along with him.

One of the things that makes Unforgiven so different from the usual genre film is that it doesn't let the audience feel that all of Munny's killing is justified ... they don't all "have it coming." Or as Munny puts it to Little Bill: "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

True in most situations.  However,  Harry did shoot a guy in the back as he was running away in "The Dead Pool."  Harry didn't really have to kill the guy at the end of "The Enforcer"; his machine gun was out of bullets, but I'm sure Harry got satisfaction from it.  He also didn't have to kill the Lt. at the end of "Magnum Force."  He was driving away, but I'm sure Harry felt justified and it made his life easier.  Also, with a gun as powerful as his and with him being such a good shot, I'm sure a bullet to the arm, shoulder, or leg would have rendered his opponent helpless in some situations, but Harry always seemed to go for the kill. 
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herofan
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2011, 07:02:02 PM »

True in most situations.  However,  Harry did shoot a guy in the back as he was running away in "The Dead Pool."  Harry didn't really have to kill the guy at the end of "The Enforcer"; his machine gun was out of bullets, but I'm sure Harry got satisfaction from it.  He also didn't have to kill the Lt. at the end of "Magnum Force."  He was driving away, but I'm sure Harry felt justified and it made his life easier.  Also, with a gun as powerful as his and with him being such a good shot, I'm sure a bullet to the arm, shoulder, or leg would have rendered his opponent helpless in some situations, but Harry always seemed to go for the kill. 

Any other thoughts about Harry killing people when it wasn't 100% necessary? 
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KC
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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2011, 07:17:58 PM »

It may not have been 100% "necessary," but the audience is always convinced that the guys Harry kills are scum, and they "have it coming to them." So in the audience's mind, as well as Harry's, the killings are always justified.

In Unforgiven, he kills a young cowboy who was really an innocent bystander in the assault of Delilah ... then an "unarmed man," the slimy but relatively innocuous Skinny, and then all but one of Little Bill's deputies (including one who is prone, wounded and helpless), who have been portrayed as workingmen who are just doing their job. That's quite a difference from anything Harry does.
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herofan
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2011, 06:33:59 AM »

It may not have been 100% "necessary," but the audience is always convinced that the guys Harry kills are scum, and they "have it coming to them." So in the audience's mind, as well as Harry's, the killings are always justified.

In Unforgiven, he kills a young cowboy who was really an innocent bystander in the assault of Delilah ... then an "unarmed man," the slimy but relatively innocuous Skinny, and then all but one of Little Bill's deputies (including one who is prone, wounded and helpless), who have been portrayed as workingmen who are just doing their job. That's quite a difference from anything Harry does.

That is one of my all-time favorite scenes and quotes from Clint.  How many times have we heard in movies and tv that someone was unarmed when they were killed.  Clint calmly replies, "He should have armed himself.........."  Classic!
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The Man With No Aim
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2012, 04:15:50 AM »

Those are very good points, Herofan! Though in fact, Harry is almost never in a situation where he could arrest a bad guy even if he wanted to; he always has to act immediately with deadly force to preserve his own life or the lives of innocent people. But then he never hesitates.

In popular culture, a character the audience identifies with is almost always justified in whatever havoc he wreaks, up to and including killing. That way, the audience can have the secret pleasure of enjoying the killing along with him.

One of the things that makes Unforgiven so different from the usual genre film is that it doesn't let the audience feel that all of Munny's killing is justified ... they don't all "have it coming." Or as Munny puts it to Little Bill: "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

Let me point out ....In Unforgiven, Little Bill has murdered Ned as is known to Munny.

And has severely beaten Munny (If anybody had beaten me like that, I would consider them to be guilty of attempted murder, how about you?).     

And, we have seen that early on Munny has seen still bloody beaten English Bob on the outbound train. Even if Munny was as slow witted as I am (how can that be?), he could have put it together and figured out that little Bill had assaulted English Bob in a way that I would call attempted murder. 

As a momentary aside, I happen to know of four ways to kill a man with my bare hands so quickly that he will already be dead before he has time to react. Almost no matter how much heavier and more muscular he might be. Each way is quite simple and can easily happen unintentionally if a man simply wants to simple mindedly assault another man. As a consequence, my attitude is that any time a man raises his hand against any other person, it must be considered attempted murder.

So, in Unforgiven, the showdown is not simply an angry Munny. It is an angry Munny confronting someone who is known to Munny as a murderer and known to him a an attempted murderer, and as possibly known to him as an attempted murderer on a second count. It is not a simple matter of Munny being pissed off. And the wizardry of that great film is that we probably do not realize how justified Munny is while we are engaged in watching it. We feel pissed off that our friend has been hurt and disrespected. We are gratified when the bad guy gets what he has coming on our emotional basis.

Later we put it together and understand that Munny acted within the same righteousness that any Marshall, Judge, Jury, and Hangman would have acted. The film has caused us to first experience our raw emotions and later to recognize the righteous justice of the logic of the protagonist's actions. 

CE takes us on the same philosophical journey in the actions of Dirty Harry Callahan. We indeed enjoy, vicariously, the joy of killing as an emotional response. Only later do we realize that we were justified.

But....perhaps we could be driven by emotions only to later discover that we were not justified by the rational facts. CE has consistently raised this issue in his film work. 
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2012, 06:44:58 AM »

But Munny doesn't only kill Little Bill, the "traditional" villain who has wronged him and whom the audience wants to see killed. He kills the unarmed Skinny, he kills three of the four deputies (one of whom he shoots in the back as he runs away, and another of whom he finishes off as he lies on the ground helpless), and in particular, he kills a young cowboy, also wounded and helpless, who was only peripherally involved in the assault that triggers all the subsequent violence in the film.

Quote
... .perhaps we could be driven by emotions only to later discover that we were not justified by the rational facts.

I think there is always a danger of that.
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The Man With No Aim
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2012, 03:17:44 AM »

The unjustified killings in the shootout in Unforgiven prompted me to compare my feelings of the moment, the first time I saw the film, with my later rationalization of justification. I was surprised at just how blood thirsty I was in real time during the viewing. I reckon that CE pretty much planned to make me think about that as a part of his intention to make Unforgiven an anti-violence message.

It worked.
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rr-electricangel
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« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2012, 10:46:55 PM »

I'm going to answer the original question of the thread since the discussion goes into more of a 'justication' for murder. Brigg's was using words to trigger Harry. When he was giving Harry a hard time it was because he wanted to know where Harry's moral compass was. If the purpose of being a police officer is getting thugs off the street why not eliminate them all? Problem solved..right? Harry is not like that. He knows what his job requires him to do. The problem usually lies in the fact that his job never goes far enough. Harry also tests the criminals he arrests. He wants to know if they are going to do what the law requires. Harry will only go so far so there a moral compass to his way of enforcing the law. An aggressor should fear Harry not a victim.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2012, 10:48:31 PM by rr-electricangel » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2012, 05:54:27 PM »

I think you're right, Herofan. I have to watch it again, but I remember there is a moment in the final conversation with Briggs where he implies that, although he's openly opposed to him through the whole film, he actually did want Harry to join. Briggs put together the Magnum Force, after all, and they formally ask him to join in the parking garage, which likely would have been at Briggs' direction...and after his refusal they try to blow him up. (Or allow him to go to the mailbox where the bomb already is, I can't recall.) I'm almost sure there's a line in the car with Harry at the end when he says something like "You're a hell of a cop, it's too bad you didn't join us"...or something like that. Otherwise, though, Briggs is playing like he's against Harry, who has already figured out it's rogue cops behind it all, and trying to misdirect him to frame the mob boss...
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« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2012, 02:00:29 PM »

Well I don't know a lot about crop circles, or galactic time travel. But I do know something about Harry Calahan.
He was offered a fig leaf, and turned it down. The rest of the film explains Harry's motivation.
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