Despite being an iconic franchise Dirty Harry has never been remade, but how would Clint Eastwood feel if it actually happened? Frank Sinatra was up for both the titular role in Dirty Harry and John McClane in Die Hard. Sinatra was said to have rejected the former as he was unable to hoist “Dirty” Harry’s signature Magnum revolver due to a broken wrist, so Eastwood was offered the role. The movie’s box-office success in 1971 made Clint a movie star and helped him transition out of Westerns.
Eastwood returned for four sequels, though they all lacked the raw power of the original. Even in its day, Dirty Harry’s depiction of a cop who takes the law into his own hands was controversial, with actors like Paul Newman rejecting it for what Eastwood described (via MTV) as “political reasons.” Eastwood became so associated with Harry that Warner Bros never seriously attempted a reboot. Of course, in an era where seemingly everything is being reinvented, could a new Dirty Harry happen?
The Rock Nearly Starred In A Dirty Harry Reboot
An interesting “what if?” scenario occurred in the early ’00s when WB mulled a new Dirty Harry fronted by Dwayne Johnson. This was apparently sparked by Eastwood definitively ruling out a sixth Dirty Harry movie. Johnson would have played a younger take on the San Francisco detective, but it appears several box-office duds from the star – including Walking Tall and Doom – caused WB to drop the idea. Years later, Johnson would cite Dirty Harry as a big influence on his Black Adam performance.
Clint Doesn’t Care If Another Dirty Harry Happens
If Eastwood doesn’t strike his fans as particularly sentimental or nostalgic about his past work, his response when asked about a Dirty Harry reboot shouldn’t be a surprise. When MTV put the question to him in 2008, his reply was “Who knows?” That said, when it comes to another actor playing the part, his response was a succinct “God bless them,” implying he has little issue with a recasting. During the same interview he didn’t totally rule out a Harry return, stating “I suppose if some mythical writer came out of nowhere and it was the greatest thing on the planet, I’d certainly have to think about it.”
The odds of Eastwood returning either in front of or behind the camera for another Dirty Harry – who lost many partners – now feel remote. If the series ever did mount a comeback, it would have to be reimagined in a big way. If the trope of the heroic detective who shoots first and asks questions later was questionable during the ’70s, it would practically be courting controversy now. That’s not to say a modern approach couldn’t work though, and the success of movies like The Equalizer or Amazon’s Reacher shows there’s still an audience for those kinds of righteous avenger figures.
Next: How Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry Adapted The Real-Life Zodiac Case