Clint Eastwood very nearly wrecked Dirty Harry’s climax, which is a beautiful note to conclude on. Although Eastwood became famous for Westerns like the Dollars trilogy and Hang ‘Em High, it was evident by the end of the 1960s that the genre was in decline. Eastwood agreed to play Dirty Harry when actors like John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, and Paul Newman declined to participate. It wasn’t just a great hit when it came out in 1971; it also served as a kind of evidence that moviegoers preferred cop pictures over Westerns.
Many spectators identified with Harry’s tough-minded approach to law enforcement, while some well-known critics, like Pauline Kael, called the movie fascist. These criticisms were so strident that the 1973 film Magnum Force, the first sequel, pitted Clint Eastwood’s protagonist against a group of vigilante police officers to emphasize that the original wasn’t backing “Dirty” Harry’s deeds. In the original, after Scorpio stole a school bus full of kids, Harry shot and killed Andrew Robinson’s serial killer. Harry fired the killer, then threw his badge into the trash in disgust.
Yet Eastwood pushed to remove Dirty Harry’s (whose companions were frequently doomed) – ending because he didn’t like it. Harry develops a growing dissatisfaction with the legal system as the plot progresses since Scorpio is consistently given a pass even though his guilt is obvious. In addition to highlighting Harry’s frustration with the system, which led him to resort to vigilantism in order to stop Scorpio from escaping again, Harry’s decision to toss his badge also pays reference to the conclusion of 1952’s Western High Noon. Eastwood believed that Harry’s decision to throw away his badge gave the wrong message to the audience, and from his point of view, the movie’s conclusion implied that the character was quitting.
At the very end of the movie, Don and Clint got into a heated argument over what to do with the badge, Robinson remembered in an interview with Rue Morgue. Harry, in the opinion of Robinson and director Don Siegel, had to renounce his badge “because he’s an outlier, a vigilante.” Eastwood objected against the shot and persuaded Siegel to omit it from the film. Additionally, he believed that the franchise potential of Dirty Harry could be harmed by the character leaving the police. But, on that particular day, Eastwood changed his mind and decided that the character should still chuck his badge.
Dirty It’s difficult to picture a different finale for the character than Harry’s exquisite closing image. As Magnum Force came out only two years after the first movie, Eastwood didn’t have to worry about reenacting this scene either. Harry doesn’t even mention throwing away his badge in the sequel, and as the story starts, the detective is going about his regular duties. With The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, and the 1988 slasher The Dead Pool, Eastwood played the part three more times, giving the star his longest-running franchise.