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Falling fast for a cool-headed hero

June 08, 2008

DIRTY HARRY won my heart in his first few minutes on-screen, when he looked at physical objects, intuited out of his working experience that a bank robbery was in progress, got somebody to call for help and then walked up the street, gun in hand and munching on the remains of a hot dog.

One of the best moments in cop movie history about that rarely favored attribute -- coolness of head and sound judgment.

All done in what?

Seven seconds?

No preaching.

But he lost me completely through those unfailingly awful Dirty Harry follow-ups. A little known incident: After the first "Dirty Harry," two men stuck up a country school in rural Australia at gunpoint, shepherded the teacher and children out into an old van, then left it in the Australian bush while awaiting a ransom.

In the absence of any Dirty Harry, the schoolteacher, a tiny woman later recognized for bravery by Queen Elizabeth, kicked out a panel in the van and led the kids to safety.

Why is this interesting? One of the men's names was . . . Eastwood. Evidently a "Dirty Harry" fan. No yellow school buses in the Australian outback.

Paul Lynch

Katoomba, Australia

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