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Dirty Harry's America"Clint Eastwood, Harry Callahan, and the Conservative Backlash"$
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Joe Street

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813061672

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813061672.001.0001

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Callahan’s Legacy

Callahan’s Legacy

(p.140) 5 Callahan’s Legacy
Dirty Harry's America

Joe Street

University Press of Florida

Despite his attempt to separate his life from his Dirty Harry screen persona, Eastwood remains unable to escape Callahan’s shadow. Eastwood’s later roles, often as a laconic outsider or law enforcement agent, add further nuance to Eastwood’s screen persona, not least through referencing Callahan himself, either explicitly or through implicit character traits. Chapter five addresses Callahan’s echoes in conservative political rhetoric and Eastwood’s later film career, linking the two through an evaluation of Eastwood’s tenure as Mayor of Carmel. Ronald Reagan’s 1985 quotation of Sudden Impact reveals the close relationship between certain tributaries of conservative thought and Eastwood/Callahan’s popular image. Callahan’s films did not decisively influence conservative political debate but they tapped into similar reservoirs of fear and resentment. As important, they should not be divorced from the larger cultural narrative of modern conservatism in the United States. This chapter reveals the reverberations of Callahan’s ideals in presidential rhetoric during the Reagan-George H.W. Bush-George W. Bush years.

Keywords:   Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood, Conservatism, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Presidential rhetoric, Carmel

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