Having watched this film again recently, I came to the conclusion that yes, Harry Callahan is a fascist character. We see that civil rights mean nothing to him: at the football field, Scorpio stops when Harry yells at him. He's unarmed, but he shoots him in the leg anyway; then he tortures a confession and the kidnapped girl's location out of him. This mucks up the whole deal as we all know (the warrantless search could have been justified because of the exigent circumstances regarding the girl, but the police brutality got everything thrown out). The film makes a point to show that Harry is just as violent and destructive as the criminals he pursues. Yet director Don Siegel makes sure we side with Harry's ultra-right wing views by presenting the "liberal" characters who espouse constitutional rights as milquetoast-looking weasels, like the D.A. who informs Harry that Scorpio will go free. However, here's the thing: just because a film presents problematic ideology, is that reason to call it a bad film? My politics are as liberal as liberal gets, and I find the "criminals don't deserve any protections" trend in action films disquieting to say the least, but the film is still very exciting, suspensful, brilliantly edited and shot, and well acted. Eastwood has so much magnetism that I can't help but side with him. Often when I read reviews of films, I find that the reviewer seems to think that just because s/he likes the film, then it can't possibly be racist, sexist, fascist, whatever (check out this review to see what I mean). A film's quality doesn't really have much to do with its ideology. In fact, I'd say there are many "great" films that have problematic constructions of gender, race, ideology, etc. These constructions need to be recognized and culturally contextualized (both at the time it was made, and how we read it now). I mean, Gone With the Wind is considered one of the "great" films; does that automatically mean it doesn't infer that blacks missed the slave south as much as the whites did? The opening card says those times are "gone with the wind" as if we should be nostalgic for it. Just because you like a film that reflects the racist culture it was made in (which isn't to say our own culture isn't profoundly racist) doesn't mean you're a racist yourself. Discuss.