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The Enforcer
Theatrical film poster by Bill Gold
Directed by James Fargo
Produced by Robert Daley
Written by Stirling Silliphant
Dean Riesner
Gail Morgan Hickman
S.W. Schurr
Starring Clint Eastwood
Harry Guardino
Bradford Dillman
Tyne Daly
DeVeren Bookwalter
Music by Jerry Fielding
Cinematography Charles W. Short
Editing by Joel Cox
Ferris Webster
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) Template:Film date
Running time 96 minutes
Country Template:Film US
Language English

Template:Italic title

The Enforcer is a 1976 American film, and the third in the Dirty Harry film series. Directed by James Fargo, it stars Clint Eastwood as Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan, Tyne Daly as Inspector Kate Moore and DeVeren Bookwalter as terrorist leader/main antagonist Bobby Maxwell.


Two gas company men are lured by a scantily-clad woman to a remote spot and killed by Bobby Maxwell. Maxwell's gang, the People's Revolutionary Strike Force (PRSF), plans to use the gas men's uniforms and van as part of an ambitious series of crimes that will make them rich.

Inspector Harry Callahan and his partner Frank DiGeorgio arrive at a liquor store where robbers have taken hostages. The robbers demand a car; the inspector provides one by driving his squad car into the store and shooting the robbers.

His superior Captain McKay reprimands Callahan for "excessive use of force", injuring the hostages, and causing more than $14,000 of damage to the store, and temporarily transfers him out of the Homicide unit. While assigned to Personnel Callahan participates in the interview process for promotions, and learns that three of the new inspectors will be female including Kate Moore, despite her very limited field experience.

The PRSF uses the gas company van to steal M72 LAW rockets, M16 rifles and AR-18 rifles from a warehouse, killing DiGeorgio during the robbery. To Callahan's distress, Moore is his new partner; she claims to understand the risk, noting that—besides DiGeorgio—two other partners of his have died. They visit the Hall of Justice for an autopsy where a bomb explodes. Callahan and Moore chase and capture the PRSF bomber and meet "Big" Ed Mustapha, leader of a black militant group the bomber formerly belonged to.

Although Callahan makes a deal with Mustapha for information, McKay arrests the militants for the PRSF's crimes. Callahan angrily refuses to participate in a televised press conference in which the publicity-seeking Mayor, with the brown-nosing McKay at his side, would commend Callahan and Moore for solving the case, and McKay suspends him from duty. Moore supports Callahan and gains his respect.

The PRSF kidnaps the Mayor after a Giants game and demands a $5 million ransom. With Mustapha's help Callahan and Moore locate the gang at Alcatraz Island, where they battle the kidnappers. Moore frees the Mayor but Maxwell kills her as she saves Callahan's life. He avenges Moore by killing Maxwell with a LAW rocket. The inspector is uninterested in the Mayor's gratitude, returning to his partner's corpse as McKay and others arrive with the ransom for the mayor.




The first script was written in 1974 by two young San Francisco area film students, Gail Morgan Hickman and S.W. Schurr, with the title Moving Target. After seeing Dirty Harry and Magnum Force, the two fledgling writers decided to pen a screenplay of their own featuring the character of Inspector Harry Callahan. Inspired by the Patty Hearst kidnapping in 1974, the storyline had Inspector Harry Callahan going up against a violent militant group reminiscent of the Symbionese Liberation Army. In the script, the militants kidnap and ransom the mayor of San Francisco.

After the screenplay was finished Hickman visited Eastwood's Carmel restaurant, The Hog's Breath Inn, and approached Eastwood's business partner, Paul Lippman, asking if he would give their effort to Eastwood. Lippman was initially hesitant, but finally agreed. Although Eastwood thought the script needed work, he liked the concept, particularly the priest with militant leanings and the portrayal of black militants, which was based on the Black Panther Party.

Warner Brothers, meanwhile, eager to capitalize on the success of the two Dirty Harry films, had hired seasoned screenwriter Stirling Silliphant to write a new Harry Callahan story. Silliphant wrote a script called Dirty Harry and More, in which the Callahan character was teamed up with an Asian-American woman partner named More. Eastwood liked the woman partner angle, but felt the script spent too much time on character and did not have enough action. Eastwood then showed the Hickman/Schurr script to Silliphant, and Silliphant agreed to rewrite it.

Silliphant wrote the script throughout late 1975 and early 1976 and delivered his draft to Eastwood in February 1976. While Eastwood approved, he believed there was still too much emphasis on the character relationships rather than the action and was concerned the fans might not approve. He then brought in screenwriter Dean Riesner, who had worked on the scripts of Dirty Harry and Coogan's Bluff, to do revisions.


Recurring characters Lieutenant Bressler (Harry Guardino) and Frank DiGeorgio (John Mitchum) reprise their roles for the last time in a Dirty Harry film. Bressler was Callahan's boss in the first film of the series, while DiGeorgio appeared in the previous two while he dies in this film. A new character, Captain Jerome McKay (Bradford Dillman), was introduced as Callahan's superior officer. Dillman played a similar role, Captain Briggs, in Sudden Impact.

Kate Moore was originally proposed to play the part of the female cop, but in the end it went to Tyne Daly. Her casting was initially uncertain, given that she turned down the role three times. She objected to the way her character was treated in parts to the film and showed concern that two members of the police force falling in love on the job was problematic, given that they would be putting their lives in jeopardy by not reaching peak efficiency. Daly was permitted to read the drafts of the script developed by Riesner and had significant leeway in the development of her character, although after seeing the film at the premiere was horrified by the extent of the violence.[1][2] Regarding Callahan's relationship with Moore, Eastwood stated:[3]



When production began the working title of the film was Dirty Harry III, in keeping with other sequels of the time. Eastwood, however, felt that the film needed a title of its own, and in the middle of production came up with the title The Enforcer.

With James Fargo to direct, filming commenced in the San Francisco bay area in the summer of 1976. Eastwood was initially still dubious about the quantity of his lines and preferred a less talkative approach, something perhaps embedded in him by Sergio Leone.[4] The film ended up considerably shorter than the previous Dirty Harry films, and was cut to 95 minutes for its final running time.[5]

The music score for The Enforcer was written by Jerry Fielding, making The Enforcer the only Dirty Harry film without a score by Lalo Schifrin. The film was originally intended to be the last Dirty Harry film of a trilogy. A poll conducted by Warner Bros in 1983 led to the development of a fourth film, Sudden Impact and the resurrection of the film series. Eastwood never intended to make more Dirty Harry films, but private agreements with the studio allowed him to do more "personal" films in exchange for doing the subsequent sequels.



Critically, Eastwood's performance was poorly received and was named "Worst Actor of the Year" by the Harvard Lampoon and the film was criticized for its level of violence.[2][6] A Variety review indicated that the film was a "worn out copy of Dirty Harry. ... The next project from this particular mold had better shape up or give up."[6]

Eastwood's performance in the third installment was overshadowed by positive reviews given to Daly in her convincing role as the strong-minded female cop, which she would follow up with a similar and more famous role in Det. Mary Beth Lacey in the television series, Cagney and Lacey.[5] Feminist reviewers in particular gave Daly rave reviews, with Marjorie Rosen remarking that Malpaso "had invented a heroine of steel" and Jean Hoelscher of Hollywood Reporter praising Eastwood for abandoning his ego in casting such as strong female actress in his film.[2]

Box office performance[]

Upon release in the fall of 1976, The Enforcer was a major commercial success and grossed a total of $100 million, $60 million in the United States and easily became Eastwood's best selling film to date,[2] earning more than some of his previous films combined. Overall this figure made it the most profitable of the Dirty Harry series for seven years until the release of Sudden Impact.[7]

See also[]

  • List of American films of 1976


  1. McGilligan (1999), p.275
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 McGilligan (1999), p.278
  3. "Starting Over: 1970-1990". You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story (2008)
  4. McGilligan (1999), p.276
  5. 5.0 5.1 McGilligan (1999), p.277
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hughes, p.62
  7. Template:Cite web


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External links[]

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