#367. War Heroes

In war, nobody wins. However, each side inevitably has those extraordinary people who went out of their way to show heroism in the face of the odds against them. These are the true winners of war: the war heroes. Often, it’s much easier to “run away to fight another day,” than it is to stand up to an enemy force. When individuals and groups of people go against that instinct, the most probable outcome is death. However, if these war heroes can cheat death, they can turn the tide of a battle, which itself could turn the tide of the war at large. Nobody ever sets out to become a war hero, but the character and determination ingrained within them before their moment of heroism is what leads them through to victory. This week’s two films highlight some unique individuals and the selfless actions they performed to become war heroes.

Year: 2017
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes / 1.77 hours

Heroism can come in many forms, but the crux of it boils down to saving lives. In war, we can often equate killing the enemy to saving the lives of our soldiers. After all, if there’s less of them to kill us, then we have therefore saved at least some of our troops. However, some of the more admirable heroes are those who save lives by not killing others. This attribute was best displayed in Hacksaw Ridge (2016), which took place on the battlefield. It can be difficult to save your fellow soldiers when the enemy is actively trying to kill you. And yet, even civilians can be war heroes. For example, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) from Schindler’s List (1993) was a civilian who saved numerous lives from the Holocaust associated with World War II. While Schindler wasn’t on the front lines, the civilians who assisted with the Dunkirk evacuation came very near to the active battlefield.

When over 400,000 soldiers found themselves pinned down on the beach at Dunkirk, many accepted their fate that they would die there. After all, the German forces were continuing to advance on their position, and everyone needed to wait to be evacuated. These soldiers were sitting ducks, waiting for the next sniper or bomber to take them out. To make matters worse, there are not enough military transports to get everyone to safety, and the ones that do exist are torpedoed and bombed from above. With no other options left, the British Navy conscripts a contingent of civilian vessels to travel across the English Channel to save these soldiers. These civilians head into battle with fishing ships and pleasure yachts, with nothing but a few Spitfires to cover them from above. Will they survive the round trip? Will they manage to save any soldiers in the process?

Sergeant YorkSergeant York
Year: 1941
Rating: Approved
Length: 134 minutes / 2.23 hours

Heroism often comes down to a single moment. When the situation is dire, and everything is falling apart around you, the “fight or flight” response kicks in. These situations frequently happen in war, but what an individual does in these moments can make the difference not only between heroism and cowardice but also life and death. Furthermore, these war heroes are the ones who not only save themselves via their actions but their brothers in arms as well. While some soldiers are conscientious objectors to war, being unwilling to kill another due to their beliefs, sometimes death is necessary to save lives. In fact, certain military professions, like the snipers seen in American Sniper (2014), are designed to kill the enemy to protect the troops fighting the war on the ground. Another famous sniper, who was also a conscientious objector was none other than Alvin York.

Alvin York (Gary Cooper) is not exemplary in many things. In fact, his frequent drinking and brawling worry his mother (Margaret Wycherly) to no end. All this changes when he falls in love with Gracie Williams (Joan Leslie). Not only does he clean up his act, but he sets out to raise enough money to buy a farm so he can marry her. As the financial deadline approaches, Alvin calls upon his one skill, marksmanship, to win a target-shooting contest, but fails to purchase the farm due to an underhanded deal on the part of the owner. Despondent, he heads out to kill this man, but has a Damascus road experience and finds God. Unfortunately, when World War I starts, Alvin is drafted as a sniper, which goes against his “no killing” beliefs. In a moment of peril, Alvin realizes his ability to kill the enemy will save his comrades, and he sets about to single-handedly turn the tide of battle.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 heroic feats


#366. World War II

Unlike the Anglo-Zanzibar War, World War II is likely to be the war with the most films featuring it as part of their plot. There are numerous reasons for this, including the rise of Hollywood during the same timeframe, as well as a distinct “good guy vs. bad guy” conflict. Unlike the Civil War, World War II was not a historical event for those individuals who were affected by it. Furthermore, unlike the Vietnam War, World War II was a war popular with the public sentiment (even despite the unpopular idea of war in general). Consequently, of the multitude of World War II films, at least eight of them have won the Oscar for Best Picture, which doesn’t even include the numerous nominated films that covered the same subject. This week’s two films highlight some of the best World War II movies ever made.

Saving Private RyanSaving Private Ryan
Year: 1998
Rating: R
Length: 169 minutes / 2.82 hours

The effects of war can spread far from their source of origin. In a global conflict like WWII, there can be prisoners of war in Burma being held by the Japanese (like in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)) as well as in Germany (like in The Great Escape (1963)). Of course, the impact of a war is often felt on the home front as well. Soldiers have families back home and often have to work hard at reintegrating into a post-war society (like in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)). That’s assuming these soldiers even make it back at all. Some generals like Patton (1970) throw their empathy out the window when giving orders, especially if they produce results. However, there are also occasions when the leaders in charge realize a single soldier’s life is significant, especially if it means that soldier can return home to a family that has already lost so much.

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln sent a letter of condolence to Lydia Bixby after her five sons died fighting for the Union. To prevent this tragedy from happening again, General George Marshall (Harve Presnell) orders that James Ryan (Matt Damon), a soldier missing in action, is found and returned home safely. Ryan’s three brothers were also soldiers, each one of them confirmed dead by the end of D-Day. While it takes some time (and the lives of two men) to track Ryan down, Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) is reluctant to return empty-handed. Unfortunately, while Ryan’s biological brothers are dead, his brothers-in-arms are still alive and protecting a strategic bridge. Captain Miller reluctantly agrees to help defend the bridge with Ryan, which proves to be a daunting task as a German Panzer Division arrives to take back control. Will anyone survive to return home?

Year: 2017
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes / 1.77 hours

Just like war can affect those who are on the home front, the civilians left behind still have plenty of capability to resist the evil present in a global conflict like WWII. Sure, you might be a nun helping a family escape German-controlled Austria (like in The Sound of Music (1965)). You might even be a German industrialist saving the lives of numerous Jews from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories (like in Schindler’s List (1993)). Nevertheless, the little things add up to help defeat the enemy. While plenty of Europeans resisted the advancement of the Nazis, the Americans in Hawaii were completely taken by surprise (like in From Here to Eternity (1953)), but still did their part to win the war. Of course, when the war is in your backyard (like in Mrs. Miniver (1942)), it’s much easier to step up and help the war effort directly.

With the Germans advancing through France, allied troops gather at Dunkirk in the hopes of being evacuated. Unfortunately, there are not enough military transports to take the hundreds of thousands of troops away from the French port. The soldiers who are trapped on the beach begin to realize that there isn’t enough transportation and come up with ways to get on the boats that are leaving. Of course, as they are still in enemy territory, even these boats face torpedoes and aerial gunfire from German forces, sinking in the process. Meanwhile, across the English Channel, civilians are being conscripted to head over to Dunkirk and use their small boats to evacuate the soldiers. Overhead, Spitfire planes are engaged with the enemy to help pave the way for a safe return home. The tension of the situation remains high as each second ticks by, dwindling away the time left for people to escape.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 well-made WWII movies

#365. Dedication

With the New Year fast approaching, it’s time to look back and see what resolutions we accomplished in 2018. While many factors contribute to successful resolutions, including realistic goals with measurable results, the most significant factor that can lead to success is dedication. Even the most impossible of resolutions can be accomplished with enormous amounts of dedication. Those who are dedicated to their goals and dreams can frequently overcome the odds stacked against them through persistence and focused effort. As many of us gear up to set our New Year’s resolutions, we need to assess how dedicated we are to accomplishing them. Of course, dedication can take some extremes as well, and there’s no better place to see extremes in action than at the movies. This week’s two films highlight dedication in its various forms.

Year: 2014
Rating: R
Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours

An often-referenced metric from Malcolm Gladwell states that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. This timeframe is usually tied to learning how to play an instrument, but it can be applied to other skills as well. However, what if you’re in a competition for that mastery? Since Gladwell came out with this expertise metric, studies have shown that dedication is only part of the equation (if not an entirely inaccurate measuring stick). Sometimes natural talent can put some individuals above others, even with the less-talented being more dedicated to their craft. This is why we find young prodigies, who aren’t old enough yet to have reached those 10,000 hours, to be inspiring. Of course, trying to overcome this talent disparity with dedication alone can sometimes prove detrimental to one’s health. It’s at these points when you have to ask yourself, “Is this a hobby, or an obsession?”

Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) wants to become one of the best drummers in existence, so he dedicates himself to practicing his craft. This dedication grabs the attention of Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons), the conductor of a competitive jazz band, leading him to bring Andrew on as a backup to the lead drummer. While Andrew is dedicated to his drumming, Fletcher is an extreme perfectionist, often resorting to violence to get his point across. Undeterred, Andrew manages to usurp the lead drumming position through the memorization of one of the band’s pieces, thus not requiring the missing sheet music. And yet, when another drummer is brought in to be Andrew’s backup, his dedication goes into overdrive, sacrificing his relationships and body, but still coming up short. After a series of events that leads to both Andrew and Fletcher’s dismissals, Andrew has one last chance to show his dedication to Fletcher.

Saving Private RyanSaving Private Ryan
Year: 1998
Rating: R
Length: 169 minutes / 2.82 hours

Sometimes the concept of dedication can be a life-or-death choice. If the firefighter is not dedicated, people can die. If the doctor is not dedicated, people can die. If the soldier is not dedicated, people can die. As you can see, many professions rely on dedication to get the job done, but also to ensure the greater good of society is maintained. While there are often situations where these professionals will find the deck stacked against them, they can usually incur scandal upon themselves for not being dedicated enough to their job when something disastrous happens. After all, quitting is easy, but dedication produces results. These results might never be publicly recognized, but they are important to someone, namely the person who was saved by these individuals’ dedication to their challenging careers.

Even though the World War II allies gained a strategic foothold in Europe during D-Day, it also resulted in numerous deaths. Of four brothers, James Ryan (Matt Damon) is the only survivor of the war so far. This prompts the War Department to extract him from the front lines to prevent complete tragedy for the whole Ryan family. Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) is tasked with retrieving Private Ryan, which proves to be difficult in the chaos that is war. Eventually, Captain Miller and his team manage to track down Ryan, who refuses to leave because he is currently involved defending a vital bridge from German attack. With no way to convince him otherwise, Miller and his men join Ryan in defense of the bridge from German Panzers. Most of these men die in the fight, but will Ryan survive to return home safely?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 dedicated dudes

#363. Music

Victor Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” There is something innately powerful about music that allows us all to express ourselves. Whether it’s dancing to a song in the middle of the street (like in West Side Story (1961)), or being able to play an instrument with supernatural skill (like in Shine (1996)), music makes our lives that much more interesting. Nearly every movie that has ever been made has music accompanying the action on screen, but fewer of them have music as a central piece of its plot. Sure, some movies visually synchronize with a playlist, whether intentionally (like Baby Driver (2017)) or unintentionally (like The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon), but these are not the ones where music is almost its own character. This week’s two films highlight music as a significant plot device.

The Sound of MusicThe Sound of Music
Year: 1965
Rating: G
Length: 174 minutes / 2.9 hours

It’s easy to see how music can feature prominently in a musical. And yet, many musicals pull their songs from the mundane, singing about common things and situations that help to propel the plot. In fact, sometimes you can cut the music out entirely and still have an excellent film. Pygmalion (1938) works just as well as My Fair Lady (1964), and at half the length. However, My Fair Lady won Best Picture and Pygmalion did not, much like West Side Story won, and the non-musical Romeo and Juliet (1968) did not. Clearly, music adds something to these movies. The Sound of Music (1965) cannot be separated from music and maintain its plot. Heck, “music” is right there in the title. The music in this film is powerful enough to warm the hearts of children who have lost a mother, as well as help a family escape the oppression of an invading force of Nazis.

When Maria (Julie Andrews) is given an opportunity to be a governess for a local widower, she jumps at the chance partly because the stodgy discipline of Nonnberg Abbey stifles her free spirit. However, upon arriving at Captain Georg von Trapp’s (Christopher Plummer) house, she finds the seven children waiting for her to be cold and mischievous, likely due to their father’s parenting style. Through songs that she teaches these children, eventually, they come to respect and love her. Maria’s presence in the family changes the children so drastically that it takes some time for their father to come around. When he does, he marries Maria just as the Nazis start to invade Austria. Using the family’s singing talents to be part of a talent show, Georg and Maria use their connections to escape during the performance and evade capture just long enough to make their way into Switzerland.

La La LandLa La Land
Year: 2016
Rating: PG-13
Length: 128 minutes / 2.13 hours

If we’ve learned anything from Damien Chazelle’s first two, critically-acclaimed films, it’s that he likes music. From the brutal world of competitive jazz competitions in Whiplash (2014) to the realities of success in the realms of music and acting in La La Land (2016), Chazelle shows the audience how intense music can be. In La La Land, particularly, we see how music is a creative and free force that helps individuals express themselves, but at the cost of not being nearly as commercially viable as other forms of music. While La La Land is itself a musical (albeit with fewer songs than the musicals we’re used to), the influence of music on the plot is undeniable. Not only can you hear how music sets a variety of tones between parties and thoughtful walks on a pier, but you can hear the difference between music from the heart and music for a paycheck.

Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling) is trying to make ends meet as a talented musician. However, while the gigs he gets pay the bills, they are far from the improvisational jazz he wants to play. In fact, he is fired from a gig at a restaurant for expressing himself musically, instead of playing the required Christmas music. As he stormed out of the restaurant, he literally ran into Mia Dolan (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress who is also relegated to a barista job on a movie lot until she finds her big break. The two of them are initially irritated at each other’s quirks but soon fall in love. While both Sebastian and Mia pursue their dreams to own a nightclub and become a successful actress, respectively, it soon becomes clear that Sebastian must take an opportunity to play in a band to support them both. Putting his dream on pause, Sebastian supports Mia, and eventually, she earns an audition which starts her career. Years later, Sebastian has realized his dream by creating a nightclub that features jazz, but at what cost?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 musical masterpieces

#362. Maids and Governesses

One of the curses of wealth is the lack of a work/life balance. To maintain a lavish lifestyle, one must dedicate their lives to their work. Because the dedication to work provides the money needed to remain wealthy, then some regular household duties can be covered by hiring someone to do them. From maintaining a house to raising children, these hired servants are often brought into the home to perform the duties that the employed individual has neither time nor capacity for in their daily lives. Usually, these individuals are women, as housework and child-rearing have traditionally been assigned to females. And yet, by bringing in an individual and letting them into your house, a home can drastically change . . . either positively or negatively. This week’s two films highlight the maids and governesses hired on by the rich and wealthy.

The HousemaidThe Housemaid
Year: 1960
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 109 minutes / 1.8 hours

Housework can be a real chore. In traditional households, a wife would take care of these tasks while the husband would work to bring in money. Unfortunately, whether by sickness, injury, or pregnancy, there are times when the housework can be too much for these wives. While some of the extremely wealthy will hire housemaids on a more permanent basis, sometimes a short-term housemaid can be useful to bridge the gap during those times when a wife cannot handle the workload. Of course, with another woman in the house, the temptation to stray from the marriage is introduced. Maybe the housemaid is younger and more attractive, or maybe the housemaid has her own nefarious plans for the man of the house. Whatever the case, hiring a housemaid could carry some risks that these families don’t initially realize.

Dong-sik Kim (Kim Jin-kyu) is a composer who lives with his wife and two children. With his wife expecting a third child, she soon becomes so weak that she cannot work around the house. Consequently, Mr. Kim hires Myung-sook (Lee Eun-shim) as a housemaid to help around the house. Because the need for a housemaid is pressing, the hiring process failed to identify the housemaid’s mental stability. From capturing rats with her hands to spying on Mr. Kim, Myung-sook eventually seduces her employer and becomes pregnant. With the power dynamic now changed within the household, Mrs. Kim (Ju Jeung-ryu) insists that Myung-sook kill her bastard child. Instead of obeying Mrs. Kim, the housemaid makes a power play and threatens to kill the Kim children, eventually succeeding and bringing down the entire household in the process.

The Sound of MusicThe Sound of Music
Year: 1965
Rating: G
Length: 174 minutes / 2.9 hours

Parenting is best performed with the two-parent system. A mother and father usually have a much easier time raising their children than a single parent, mostly due to the distribution and sharing of responsibilities. However, sometimes the death of one of the partners can induce a single parent to continue on raising these children by themselves. In these situations, the single parent still needs to work in order to provide for their children, but as a result, will have no time to actually spend raising them. This is where governesses can be brought in to fill in the gap left by the missing parent. While a governess might not be necessary for one child, they are certainly helpful when there are seven. It can take some time for the children to trust and obey a governess, especially considering she is not their parent. However, the governesses who do succeed, manage to gain the children’s trust and love.

Maria (Julie Andrews) is the free-spirited headache of Nonnberg Abbey. Her energetic personality is in direct contrast to the solemnity required of a nunnery. Consequently, she is sent by the Mother Abbess to assist a retired naval Captain as a governess for his seven children. The task is daunting at first, as she tries to break through the hard exterior of the children brought about by Georg von Trapp’s (Christopher Plummer) militaristic parenting style. Gradually, the children start to trust her as she brings vivacity and enjoyment of life into their home. Unfortunately, Georg does not necessarily agree with her parenting style, causing him to send her back to the Abbey. However, when his children show how much they love Maria, he relents, and she stays, eventually marrying him and helping the whole family escape the Nazis who invade Austria shortly afterward.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 women working in the house

#360. Cult Films

What makes a film “great?” Is it the awards it wins? Is it the money it makes? Is it critical recognition? Many films are easy to categorize via these metrics, but the cult classics are often beyond explanation. For whatever reason, these films garner a loyal following that loves the film even despite some of its “failings.” These are the films that didn’t do well at the box office or were critically panned, but people still find to be entertaining. Often, these are the “so bad it’s good” films that have audiences that look past the goofy or bizarre and love the movie for the campy entertainment that it is. Sometimes, cult films can merely gain their status due to the rarity of their distribution. If an exceptional film is hard to find, those who have seen it will attest to its greatness. This week’s two films highlight some cult films and what led them to this status.

The Boondock SaintsThe Boondock Saints
Year: 1999
Rating: R
Length: 108 minutes / 1.8 hours

Every year, there are plenty of films that I never get to see because I don’t live in the big cities like Los Angeles or New York. Some of these films are the “artsy” movies that see limited release because they’re not necessarily commercially viable. Other films with limited releases in theatres are done for other reasons, only to be “discovered” once they reach the rental circuit. With a wider availability through rental stores like Blockbuster, or streaming services like Netflix, suddenly a film that wouldn’t have had a large audience finds itself becoming popular by sheer word-of-mouth. The Boondock Saints (1999) is just such a film. Critics didn’t like the film, it was only released in five theatres, and only made just over $30k, but once audiences found it on DVD, they started raving about it. It just goes to show that sometimes the audience knows what it wants, despite whatever Hollywood would have to say about it.

FBI Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) is assigned to a case involving the death of two Russian mobsters in a Boston alleyway. In his investigation, he finds the culprits are likely Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) MacManus, twin brothers who were acting in self-defense after standing up to the mobsters the night before. Because they’re standing up for Boston and its Irish-American heritage, most people view them as heroes, if not saints. Consequently, Agent Smecker lets them go but eventually assists them in taking out the larger contingent of the Russian mafia in town. As the MacManus twins work their way up the hierarchy of the Russian mafia, they are soon up against a hired gun named Il Duce (Billy Connolly), who turns out to be their father. All three achieve sainthood by dispatching the mob boss to the afterlife during his trial.

Year: 2003
Rating: R
Length: 120 minutes / 2.0 hours

Foreign films can often be difficult to find in markets outside of their country of origin. Not only do these films have cultural and language barriers that might make them less-likely to be brought to American audiences but the marketing for such films in the United States is likely to be next to nothing. Consequently, some foreign films that are even critically acclaimed might gain a cult following in other countries just due to the challenge involved in viewing said movies. Once again, plenty of these films gain notoriety through word-of-mouth to gain the cult following outside of its country of origin. Of course, sometimes the “cult” that follows a particular film does so because of the extremes the film exhibits. Either it’s extremely bad, or violent, or awkward, but whatever it is that makes the film unique will help draw fans to it.

For 15 years, Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) has been trapped in a hotel room after he was abducted the night of his daughter’s 4th birthday. During his unexplained incarceration, he plots his revenge (a la The Count of Monte Cristo) while training himself to be able to fight those who abducted him. Just as inexplicably, he’s released on a rooftop and soon finds his training allows him to fight extraordinarily well. Coming upon a restaurant, he meets Mi-do (Kang Hye-jung), a young woman who helps him investigate his strange kidnapping. The two fall in love and consummate their relationship shortly before finding the culprit of Dae-su’s imprisonment: a classmate from high school who was exposed for incest, killing the classmate’s sister in the process. Of course, this classmate had to get revenge on Dae-su, which results in some poetic justice before Dae-su enacts his own vengeance.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 cult classics

#358. Police

Whatever your opinion is of law enforcement, they’re generally a necessity to maintain order in society. That’s not to say that police officers aren’t human as well (Robocop (1987) excluded, of course). They make mistakes sometimes, and sometimes they act in their own self-interests. Despite controversy and other shortcomings, there are plenty of police who are full of integrity and do their job to the best of their ability. Over the years, there have been numerous stereotypes formed around the cops. From the donut-eating overweight incompetent to the hard-nosed, by-the-book officer who is continuously stymied by corruption in his department, a lot of police representation in movies can be boiled down to tropes. Consequently, the “police movie” is practically its own genre. This week’s two films highlight some different representations of police.

The Naked GunThe Naked Gun
Year: 1988
Rating: PG-13
Length: 85 minutes / 1.42 hours

There are plenty of movies that portray the police as some kind of joke. Granted, these films also have the police in the role of an antagonist, thus making them incompetent to allow the protagonist to succeed, often to comedic effect. However, there are still many films that have police as the protagonists and remain in the “comedy” genre. Sometimes the situations the police find themselves in are the comedic factor but other times the police themselves are the source of the comedy. The former is best represented by films like Kindergarten Cop (1990), whereas the latter are generally represented by movies like Super Troopers (2001), and Hot Fuzz (2007). The Naked Gun franchise combines both of these types of comedy in a wry and often goofy screwball comedy that features the comedic talents of Leslie Nielsen.

With the visit of Queen Elizabeth II (Jeannette Charles) to Los Angeles coming up soon, it’s up to Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) to clean up a city with a heroin problem before she arrives. All the information Detective Nordberg (O. J. Simpson) has accumulated on the heroin ring point to Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalbán). To distract Drebin, Ludwig sends his assistant, Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley), to help Drebin with the investigation. After some sleuthing, Drebin and Jane discover that Ludwig will attempt an assassination of the Queen at a baseball game using hypnotic suggestion to awaken a sleeper assassin. As time runs out to stop the killing, Drebin’s dumb luck and clumsy bumbling end up saving the day. Of course, at this point, Jane is turned into a sleeper agent and attempts to kill Drebin. His only defense against her is to call upon the strength of their relationship.

Magnum ForceMagnum Force
Year: 1973
Rating: R
Length: 124 minutes / 2.07 hours

Police work is very serious business, as well it should be. The everyday stories of police can even be used in a documentary format, as was done with The Thin Blue Line (1988). Even fictionalized accounts do have some elements of truth to them, as the dramatic nature of a police officer’s job lends itself to gripping storytelling. Movies like Training Day (2001) show audiences just what needs to be done to affect change as a police officer. Even animated films like Zootopia (2016) highlight the struggles of police who are trying to do the right thing, despite the bureaucracy and other factors that end up being stacked against them. In the end, most police films are about investigations. As the crime is unraveled, the police find themselves deep in the dregs of society as they try to bring justice to their jurisdiction.

Soon after a mysterious shooting death of acquitted Mobster Carmine Ricca (Richard Devon), Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) runs across a few rookie police officers who have skills with their guns that surpasses his own. As more undesirable members of society are knocked off, Harry starts to suspect that a gang of motorcycle cops has created a “kill squad” to take out the mobsters and pimps that haven’t received the justice they deserve. Through a shooting competition, Harry manages to retrieve a fired bullet from a rookie officer’s gun. When ballistics analyzes the round, it matches the mob shootings. Cornering Harry with threats and a mailbox bomb, these police officers give him an ultimatum to join their group. With his outright refusal, the officers turn their wrath on Harry, who manages to outsmart them and give them their own justice as well.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 police portrayals