Magnum Force – Clint Eastwood week

Last year I reviewed 13 Clint Eastwood movies available on instant Netflix. Netflix has now released a bunch more. Magnum Force is currently available on instant Netflix.

Magnum Force

WATCH: Magnum Force (1973) – Rated R

“The second of five Dirty Harry movies, Magnum Force finds Clint Eastwood revisiting his career-making turn as a tough-as-nails detective who makes his own rules. A wayward cop is enforcing vigilante justice by assassinating several criminals who manage to escape punishment by slipping through legal loopholes, and “Dirty” Harry Callahan is on the case. Watch for an uncredited appearance by a young Suzanne Somers.”

“A man’s got to know his limitations.”

“Nothing wrong with shooting as long as the right people get shot.”

This is an excellent follow-up to Dirty Harry. The opening credits are a hand holding a gun and Clint’s voice-over ad for the .44 Magnum. The killings (initially) are shown being committed by a uniformed patrolman in iconic gear – perhaps an inspiration for the later Maniac Cop series. The ending, as with Dirty Harry, does not drag after the climax.

Magnum Force features, albeit briefly, perhaps the second greatest pimp-mobile of all time. Top pimp mobile still goes to Isaac Hayes’ vehicle in Escape from New York – nothing beats chandelier headlights.

Screenwriter John Milius stated that Clint’s sex scene with an Asian woman was added because of all the Asian fan mail propositions Clint had received. That was awfully nice of him to respond to fan requests.

Clint Eastwood is marvelous as always in perhaps his most iconic role. Unlike Dirty Harry, this is not quite a one-man show. Hal Holbrook is excellent as Harry’s superior. Tim Matheson capably plays one of the junior officers. The other actors are all good.

Magnum Force mildly corrects a few of the right-wing fantasy issues from the first film. The movie shows that vigilante justice is a slippery slope. Harry has a speech about taking things too far as well.

San Francisco scenery is once again put to fantastic use here. There are many shots of the Golden Gate bridge and the harbor. There is a nice though brief chase in the winding hilly streets. The action sequence on the carriers is impressive and features some nice stunt work.

Again I wholeheartedly recommend this sequel to Dirty Harry. Unlike Dirty Harry, this film is shown in its original aspect ratio (widescreen).

People Watch: Well Netflix stole my thunder by mentioning Suzanne Somers’ bit part in this. Robert Urich appears as a police officer in this before moving on to SWAT, Vega$, and Spenser for Hire. David Soul plays another officer before his role as Hutchinson in Starsky & Hutch.

Conan the Barbarian

In order to narrow down last week’s choices for Swashbuckler week, I eliminated those films dealing with magic. As that is enough to fill another week *surprise*, this week is Sword and Sorcery week. I’ll start with some quintessential Arnold. Conan the Barbarian is currently available on Netflix instant play.

Conan the Barbarian

WATCH: Conan the Barbarian (1982) – rated R

“Catch Arnold before he became a politician! A pure swords-and-sorcery flick, Conan the Barbarian is one of the best and sparked a wave of fantasy films in the early ’80s. When Conan’s parents are killed in a raid, he’s sent to a slave camp where his master trains him to be a warrior and use his skills in high-stakes fights. Once granted his freedom, the muscle-bound bruiser seeks to avenge his parents’ brutal murder and solve the riddle of steel.”

You know when a film opens with a quote from Nietzsche that it’s likely to be dripping with testosterone. Manly John Milius (Red Dawn, Apocalypse Now, Dillinger, Dirty Harry) both directed this and co-wrote it with Oliver Stone. This film overflows with machismo and is well done apart from a bizarre third-act twist. Basil Poledouris’ ponderous bass and drum heavy score is not only fitting and rousing but has been ripped off numerous times for other movies’ trailers. There are many wonderful action pieces throughout the film especially theĀ  big end battle.

While not Arnold’s best film, it is hard to hear the word Conan without picturing Arnold’s incredible physique. Arnold is of course Arnold but that is perfect for this film and without him this film would not have amounted to much. Arnold’s love interest Valeria holds her own and is played ably and very physically by dancer Sandahl Bergman who unfortunately did not receive anywhere near the post-movie boost that Arnold did. They did their own stunts but stuntwoman Corrie Jansen (as a priestess of Doom) took the cake when she set a record by taking a 182-foot free fall plunge.

James Earl Jones oddly plays villain Thulsa Doom. I say oddly because in the books, Thulsa Doom was actually an enemy of Robert E. Howard’s other hero, Kull the Conqueror. Thulsa’s thread runs through the film and he makes a fine villain but in the third act, he becomes the leader of a snake cult that believes in flower power (?!?). The Jim Jones massacre occurred in 1978 and was obviously fresh in the writers’ minds but I’m not sure whether the cult is supposed to reflect them or ‘flower power’ or a mixture of the two. At any rate it seems really jarring especially with the incredibly fake 2nd worst cannibal stew in one sequence – worst goes to the Richard Chamberlain stinker, King Solomon’s Mines. Other than those flaws, the film is very enjoyable.

People Watch: Max von Sydow has a brief but welcome role as King Osric