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Clint Eastwood Once Said He Isn't Bothered By Political Critiques Of Dirty Harry

Clint Eastwood's first acting role came in the horror film "Revenge of the Creature," which was a sequel to Universal Pictures' "Creature from the Black Lagoon." While Eastwood got his start in the horror genre, the actor's popularity and tough-guy persona grew when he starred in a series of Spaghetti Westerns, including "A Fistful of Dollars," "For a Few Dollars More," and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

Thanks to a career spanning eight decades, Eastwood is known as Hollywood royalty, exhibiting talent both in front of and behind the camera. Eastwood started off as an actor, but he never won an Academy Award for any performance. Eastwood tallied a total of four Oscars for his work on "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby" — best picture and best director wins for both (via IMDb). However, decades prior, it was Eastwood's role as Detective Harry Callahan in 1971's "Dirty Harry" that garnered the actor a different kind of attention.

"Clint Eastwood is possibly the most popular movie star in the world," Roger Ebert said during a 1984 episode of "At the Movies," which was dedicated solely to evaluating Harry Callahan. Ebert was quick to point out that the character Eastwood portrays is a violent detective who hardly utters a word. Yet, film critics not only called out the brutality associated with "Dirty Harry," but they also critiqued its alleged political implications. But did you know Eastwood just didn't care what the critics thought?

Eastwood isn't bothered by the critics

"Dirty Harry" received political critiques from writers like The New Yorker's Pauline Kael, a prolific contributor to the magazine for over twenty years (via The New Yorker). But Clint Eastwood was well aware of the script's political aspects, which were causing controversy around the project. "I was told when I first got the script that other actors had liked it but had reservations about the political elements of it," Eastwood said in an interview with MTV. "But even at that age, I was not afraid of it."

Eastwood was 41 years old when "Dirty Harry" hit cinemas in December 1971, and to him, the film was merely an exhilarating story about an exciting detective. "It was a fantasy," Eastwood continued. "Here's a guy who is so dogmatic that nothing is going to stop him when his mind is made up."

Kael labeled "Dirty Harry" a "Gestapo movie," but that critique didn't bother the seasoned actor. "I didn't care less," Eastwood continued. "Somebody else called it a fascist masterpiece. People are always calling people names, the great right-wing conspiracy or the great left-wing conspiracy. You make a movie, and if somebody reads something into it, then great, more power to him." Eastwood elaborated that he has only moderate political views, as did "Dirty Harry" director Don Siegel. At the end of the day, all Eastwood and Siegel cared about was making a piece of entertainment, and they weren't concerned with the political overtones critics might read into the film.