The Enforcer (1976)

the enforcer poster 1976 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Tyne Daly is a nice change up for a partner

Too little story development, Harry comes off as more of an ass

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Enforcer

Studio: Warner Bros./The Malpaso Company

Genre(s): Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): December 16, 1976 (UK)/December 22, 1976 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

the enforcer dirty harry callahan clint eastwood

What?!?! More sensitive? This is what I do!

When the People’s Revolutionary Strike Force capture military grade weapons, they take the city of San Francisco hostage. When his partner Frank DiGiorgio (John Mitchum) is killed, it is up to Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) to stop them. Unfortunately for Callahan, he’s also dealing with a rookie partner placed with Callahan to change the city’s image…a female detective.  As Kate Moore (Tyne Daly) tries to earn Harry’s respect, they learn a new threat has arisen when the PRSF capture the mayor of San Francisco (John Crawford).

Directed by James Fargo, The Enforcer is an action adventure police movie.  Following Magnum Force in 1973, the film is third entry in the Dirty Harry franchise.  The film received mixed reviews but Daly’s performance led to her casting in Cagney and Lacey (as Lacey) in a similar role.

Dirty Harry is iconic, but he is also a parody.  By this point in the franchise, Harry scowl and angry craggy face is almost a joke…but this film not only has the police fighting against Harry’s brand of justice, but his societal views.  It leads to a very mixed message.  Due to aspects of the plot a ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

the enforcer harry callahan kate moore clint eastwood tyne daly

It Callahan and Lacey!

The Dirty Harry films seem like they generally repeat themselves.  Harry takes out a criminal against standard procedure, gets yelled at by his bosses, gets fired, and proves them wrong by bringing in the bad guy…it is a good formula and it remains entertaining, but it also is becoming stale.  The films always used a “ripped from the headlines” type “villain” and this time it is the Symbionese Liberation Army…but the plotline isn’t very developed and they are no Scorpio (or even evil cops of Magnum Force).

Some of it is changes in perspectives, but Harry also just comes off as more of an ass in this movie due to his treatment of Tyne Daly’s character.  While she does earn his respect by the end, she shouldn’t necessarily have to…and having her character be killed almost proves Harry’s point in a bizarre way.  She wasn’t necessarily prepared to be on the streets.  It is a strange pro-feminist movement movie, but it also hedges its bets by stepping back at the end.

the enforcer tyne daly john crawford

Just a word of warning…the franchise is Dirty Harry not Messy Moore…you might want to play it a bit safer

While the movie nicely uses San Francisco like the previous entries (this time Alcatraz becomes the big fighting point), it doesn’t feel as dirty and gritty as the first film.  It is nicely edited and arranged in the sense of conveying the action, but like other Dirty Harry movies, there are some ridiculously seedy moments (like Harry falling into a porn film shooting and the sex shop involving blow-up dolls and grandmothers asking for money).

Dirty Harry films are a fun escape.  Some of the movies are better than others, and other than a nice change up with Daly’s partnership, The Enforcer is one of the more forgettable Dirty Harry films.  Harry is a caricature, and this movie provides a mean to break that caricature for future films…but this film doesn’t do it.  The Enforcer was followed by Sudden Impact in 1983.

Related Links:

Dirty Harry (1971)

Magnum Force (1973)

Sudden Impact (1983)

The Dead Pool (1988)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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