March 27, 2021


I have been working on boiling down everything I have learned about writing into a useable reference. The idea being that rather than sorting through ten to twenty books to get an angle on a scene or chapter I can get the bump at a glance.

I am compiling stuff on “the hero” just now and it got me thinking on some of my favorite heroes from some of my favorite movies. One of them is of course DIRTY HARRY.

So many great scenes and lines from this film series and it all started with the first one. “You have to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” Harry wields his .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off… like Excalibur. He is a dark knight battling against the grimy forces of evil in a city always ready to boil over.

He is big, strong, silent. When he does talk, feelings usually get hurt. When he comes after you, bad guys get hurt. He is the guy nobody wants around, until they need a guy like him around and oh yeah, there is nobody else like him around.

The movie does a fantastic job setting all this up, but it also does another thing. It humanizes Harry. Lest we think Harry is just a cyborg we get this scene.

Harry and his new partner are chasing a potential suspect down a dark alley. Harry and his partner split up. Harry sees the suspect duck into an apartment. Harry follows and steps up on a trashcan to look into the window. Some guys from the neighborhood see Harry, there in the dark, standing on a trashcan, looking into the widow. They drag him down and begin beating him up, accusing him of being a peeper, spying on “hot” Mary.

His partner shows up, fires his gun in the air, and saves Harry from further beating. His partner wants to arrest the men, but Harry says let them go. Afterward, his partner says he now knows why they call him “Dirty” Harry. Eastwood, in one of his trademark “I can’t believe this shit” expressions walks away.

The moment of humor and humanity, of the cyborg being a grinder just doing his job is a perfect counterbalance.

And it gives me something to shoot for. I just hope I am as good a shot as Dirty Harry.

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