Sudden Impact

Sudden Impact ★★★★½

The great low budget filmmaker Charles B. Pierce and his usual creative partner Earl Smith have a writing credit on Sudden Impact which is one of the most unexpected ties in an Eastwood movie. The connection was through Sondra Locke, who starred in Smith's lone directing effort, a very intriguing horror/western hybrid called The Shadow of Chikara, and it isn't a huge surprise to learn that Sudden Impact script started as rape/revenge vehicle for Locke that Eastwood took an interested in and turned into a Dirty Harry vehicle. Those origins are fascinating when thinking about the movie's troubling qualities as while it wouldn't work at all without its many mirrors and doublings as I wrote the last time I saw it (and all the Harry comedy is essential to enlighten the violent movie Locke is in), that it started as a low budget disreputable genre gives it some of its rougher edges. It also goes a long way towards highlighting how Eastwood's work has the contradiction of coming from the most commercial successful star/director from the last 50 years and be so consistent unpleasant and taken by sleazy sadistic quality. That serves Sudden Impact really well as embodied in Locke's astonishing performance (and I enjoy how the film is structured so she slowly takes it over) a truly pained account of how American mainstream culture perceives violence, the ways it is accepted or not both through officials and unofficial channels.

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