The Enforcer

Whatever compels Inspector Callahan to shoot a rotten apple off San Francisco’s head, the tour in set pieces (revolutionaries, sex merchants, Alcatraz) is wonderfully precise. A film with a long-drawn inference from High Noon, showing the complex specialty of the earlier work’s formal structure, a tightrope of articulation.

The intensity of these images endows them with a planetary force, which is constantly ablated by the force of reason. The key example (as most laborious) is the very first, a prostitute who seduces two electric repairmen and causes them to be murdered. A running exploration of this theme leads through a sex flick on location to a massage parlor and a roomful of old ladies signing identical dirty correspondence with a freshly-lipsticked kiss.

The pivot of the drama is a rather sensitive construction on the armed revolt racket vs. the government at bay. Eastwood’s own significant remake is The Rookie, clarifying somewhat a dramatic device of exposition and development.


Every Which Way But Loose

Philo Beddoe’s wooing of a country-and-western singer between scratch fights, the last of which he loses for honor’s sake, along with the girl (but see the sequel, Any Which Way You Can).

The children tend to disapprove of this sort of entertainment. Lord love them, they do but echo the parochial enthusiasms of their parents.

For the rest of us, a treat and no mistake. It’s always pleasing when a work of art is received by the public and confounds the critics... to gratify the former and rub the noses of the latter in their own piddling is only just.


Forced Vengeance

Forced Vengeance takes a cue from Billion Dollar Brain with a developing series of costumes for Norris, who thus appears in Hong Kong attired in black trousers, vest and bow tie with a white shirt, or wearing a Stetson, or in a U.S. Army uniform.

David Opatoshu’s Yiddische Tai Chi is a thing to behold. Fargo’s Hong Kong is water currents and sky.


Second Chances

This is close enough to The Horse Whisperer to make for easy comparisons, but the differences are more important, one in particular.

The girl’s father dies in the accident, her mother is wooed by an English doctor, the girl is an exceptionally talented rider who competes in the rodeo against a rich girl.

The wrangler isn’t kindly or wise but rather sharp and cold in a familiar, authoritarian way. His curt dullness is explained by the death of his daughter in a riding accident (the rich mother is his ex-wife). The structural implications make for generally unpleasant acting, to match the characters.

Stuart Whitman and Theodore Bikel watch this as hands or fans, Kelsey Mulrooney is the skillful child actress in She’s So Lovely.