Damn. It takes a lot to laugh. It takes a train to cry. Bob Dylan said that.
I just said damn.
This film was released the year I was born. Yeah, I’m an old son of a bitch.
Figure of speech (you understand)…
It’s hard to talk about this film without talking about Tyne Daly. How beautiful she looked in this film! What great acting!
But let’s start at the beginning…
Jocelyn Jones. Any fish bite if you got good bait. Henry “Ragtime” Thomas said that.
Numb nuts. Jocelyn said that.
I know the type. Bait. Numb nuts.
Think Lana Turner. That first appearance she makes in The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Or Sue Lyon in Lolita. Kubrick. The hard stuff.
Those little heart-shaped sunglasses. Her eyes replaced by your mind.
It’s not “Pleasant Valley Sunday”…rather, Mill Valley.
No Monkees. Just a bunch of bloodthirsty punks after some money. A rag-tag group of Vietnam vets and ideological dupes.
Director James Fargo goes for the kill early on. The tight shot of those blue-grey eyes. A little awkward. But DeVeren Bookwalter more or less delivers. Not quite as terrifying as Andy Robinson in the original Dirty Harry…ok, actually a straight rip of that character minus the fascinating Zodiac Killer angle. But Fargo turns in a pretty convincing film. No small feat. While the James Bond franchise was busy dicking around with numerous directors, the Dirty Harry series showed them how to strike an emotional blow with an economy of means.
Of course we get another shite superior…Captain McKay…played pretty well by Bradford Dillman. Not as convincing as Hal Holbrook in Magnum Force, but hey… And again, a straight rip of the Lt. Briggs character.
All of this would seem to indicate that this is a watery domestic facsimile with a lack of imagination. Not quite. This is a damn good film.
Tyne Daly really provides the foil to Eastwood that was needed to make this picture transcend.
Fargo’s silhouette version of Stan Brakhage’s The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes (1971) is frankly brilliant.
Albert Popwell makes powerful use of his limited screen time. Swahili for freedom: uhuru.
It brings us to a Hitchcock moment and reminds us of the ultimate case of the wrong man: Osama bin Laden. As Ralph Nader described George W. Bush: a corporation disguised as a human being. Osama. THE Company.
Not even the head of the snake. Not even the tip of the iceberg. More like a figurehead asset. A fall guy. A bogus bogeyman.
And so the real terrorists run free. Suits and ties. Top Secret security clearances.
It’s as hollow a feeling as that famous “mission accomplished” pronouncement. On the USS Abraham Lincoln no less. Yeah…it’s time to open up some crusty old prisons for the real terrorists. Places that’ll make Guantanamo Bay look like a goddamned Sandals resort.