The talented Andrew Robinson
As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.
I love John Wayne westerns and as a child I looked forward to another John Wayne movie, that when Brannigan appeared in Mr. Wayne as a cop in London, I just could not watch it.
What this is about is a movie called Dead Right and the reason that it is posted here, is on Amazon there was a comment on Brannigan that John Wayne had lobbied heavy for the role of Dirty Harry, but that is an absolute lie. The fact is the role that cemented Clint Eastwood to a generation as a venting of a nation infuriated over so much in the 1970's, was turned down by a number of the biggest stars America had.
This is the Wiki quote and it explains everything about Dirty Harry. The fact is the biggest stars simply did not like the script, because it was too violent.
The script, titled Dead Right, was originally written by Harry Julian and Rita M. Fink, a story about a hard-edged New York City police inspector, Harry Callahan, determined to stop Travis, a serial killer, by any means at his disposal. The original draft ended with a police sniper, instead of Callahan, shooting Scorpio. Another earlier version of the story was set in Seattle, Washington. Four more drafts of the script were written.
Although Dirty Harry is arguably Clint Eastwood's signature role, he was not a top contender for the part. The role of Harry Callahan was offered to John Wayne and Frank Sinatra, and later to Robert Mitchum, Steve McQueen, and Burt Lancaster. In his 1980 interview with Playboy, George C. Scott claimed that he was initially offered the role, but the script's violent nature led him to turn it down. When producer Jennings Lang initially could not find an actor to take the role of Callahan, he sold the film rights to ABC Television. Although ABC wanted to turn it into a television film, the amount of violence in the script was deemed too excessive for television, so the rights were sold to Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. purchased the script with a view to casting Frank Sinatra in the lead. Sinatra was 55 at the time and since the character of Harry Callahan was originally written as a man in his mid-to-late 50s (and Eastwood was then only 41), Sinatra fit the character profile. Initially, Warner Bros. wanted either Sydney Pollack or Irvin Kershner to direct. Kershner was eventually hired when Sinatra was attached to the title role, but when Sinatra eventually left the film, so did Kershner.
John Milius was asked to work on the script when Sinatra was attached, along with Kershner as director. Milius claimed he was requested to write the screenplay for Sinatra in three weeks.Terrence Malick wrote a draft of the film dated November 1970 (John Milius and Harry Julian Fink are also named as co-writers) in which the shooter (also named Travis) was a vigilante who killed wealthy criminals who had escaped justice. Malick's ideas formed the basis for the sequel, Magnum Force, though with a group of vigilante motorcycle cops instead of a single shooter.
Details about the film were first released in film industry trade papers in April, September and November 1970, with Frank Sinatra attached as Harry Callahan and Irvin Kershner listed as director and producer, with Arthur Jacobson acting as associate producer.
After Sinatra left the project, the producers started to consider younger actors for the role. Burt Lancaster turned down the lead role because he strongly disagreed with the violent, end-justifies-the-means moral of the story. He believed the role and plot contradicted his belief in collective responsibility for criminal and social justice and the protection of individual rights. Marlon Brando was considered for the role, but was never formally approached. Both Steve McQueen and Paul Newman turned down the role. McQueen refused to make another "cop movie" after Bullitt (1968). He would also turn down the lead in The French Connection the same year, giving the same reason. Believing the character was too "right-wing" for him, Newman suggested that the film would be a good vehicle for Eastwood.
The screenplay was initially brought to Eastwood’s attention around 1969 by Jennings Lang. Warner Bros offered him the part while still in post-production for his directorial debut film Play Misty for Me. By December 17, 1970, a Warner Brothers studio press release announced that Clint Eastwood would star in as well as produce the film through his company, Malpaso.
Eastwood was given a number of scripts, but he ultimately reverted to the original as the best vehicle for him. In a 2009 MTV interview, Eastwood said "So I said, 'I'll do it,' but since they had initially talked to me, there had been all these rewrites. I said, 'I'm only interested in the original script'."
I always delight in knowing who had the roles offered them and turned them down. I always think about the "Do you feel lucky punk" line in that movie that became defining Eastwood and the scene where the pedophile child molesting rapist is shot in the leg fleeing and Eastwood tells his partner to get lost, as he stomps on the leg to make the rapist talk as the little girl is still thought to be alive and buried alive.
I think John Wayne in his brute force would have overpowered the role, but he would have been magnificent. Frank Sinatra, I would have loved to have watch as he had that manly son of a bitch look to him that just scared you as trouble.
Robert Mitchum was big and slow, but he was creepy when he wanted to be as in Point Fear. I do not think McQueen could have pulled this role off though as he never had acting ability.
Paul Newman was just too fag and Burt Lancaster was too stiff.
As I am writing this, I have Billy Wilder's Big Country on, and while it will sound odd, Burl Ives plays the competing rancher and when he gets things going he can act. Imagine his hulk as a crazed old man with a 44 magnum, meaning to make things 1930 moral in a 1970 world.
Burl Ives was ten times Newman or McQueen when it came to powerful performances.
As a sidenote in this John Milius' name appears in the above, and he is one of the most talented of writers. He is also one of the most renegade as he always made the studios include guns as payment for his work. In many ways, he made the 44 Magnum the star of Dirty Harry, and made Smith and Wesson solvent with the Model 29.
It is fun to entertain George C. Scott as Dirty Harry. His performance as Patton was legendary and while I do not think he could have pulled off the "Do you feel lucky punk" as Scott tended to hiss too much when emotional, his stomping on a pedo's leg as you can hear the bones grinding, would have been most interesting.
It all though came down to Andrew Robinson who played the pedophile rapist. His performance was Charles Manson Helter Skelter terrifying. His wild eyes, long greasy hair was Manson. The odd part is that the writers based the pedo on another California maniac in the Zodiac Killer.
As an additional thought the writers had originally wrote the part for Audie Murphy, but Robinson was so superb that few others could have touched that role and it is doubtful anyone would have been as good as Robinson.
By today's standards Dirty Harry is not that violent, but it is meat on bone intimate which makes it different in what it originally captured. It was the perfect vehicle for Eastwood who was transitioning from cowboy films to cop detective genre.
I even think what if the writers went the other way and cast Kurt Russell in the role in what would be more disturbing is the Disney blonde child having a lurking rager inside of him to surprise the world.
I hope someday that someone with a 30 million dollars wants to invest in a project of 30 pictures. I will not say what the project is, but it would be one which would have people debating it for a generation.
There are so many bad movies which never worked and so many of them should be redone. Dirty Harry is one which was done right which is a rare thing and why Dirty Harry is so noted. John Wayne should have left McQ and Brannigan to Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood types. I would have two more westerns than to watch to enjoy.
I never liked the sequels to Dirty Harry in a Model 29 can only carry Clint Eastwood so far. I do like thinking though how things could be different, just as good, and never better. In all of these films from top to bottom, people always overlook that it is the bad guy who makes the Bruce Willis in Die Hard.
The wonderful Allan Rickman