My father’s best friend was Harry Plotkin. Harry was an attorney who, like my father, came to DC to work for the government during the War. And if you don’t know what I mean when I use the term ‘the War,’ you’re probably either a late Boomer or a Millennial. For those of us who are pre-Boomers (I was born in 1944, there was only one ‘war.’
Actually, Harry and Esther came to DC before the war, because Harry got a job with a new Federal agency, the FCC. He ended up helping to write the regulations which governed the granting of radio and television licenses, then started his own firm which specialized representing media companies before the FCC.
Harry was born and raised in Massachusetts, attended both Harvard College and Harvard Law. The furthest West he ever went, besides living for two years in Chicago after law school, was out to Bethesda or Chevy Chase.
But Harry loved cowboy movies, maybe because he had never been out West. So at least once a month he
me and his son, Ira, to the RKO-Keiths to see every new cowboy movie that came to town. And if there was no new cowboy movie, we went to see one that we had already seen.
Know how many times I saw Alan Ladd gun down Jack Palance in the town saloon? About as many times as I saw John Wayne tie a yellow ribbon around his neck and go out to chase Indians to protect the wagon trains.
If you were a buy growing up in the 1950’s and you didn’t play cowboys and Indians with your friends, you didn’t have any friends. And the cowboys always won because they had all those guns.
The last Hollywood actor to kick-start a career by killing all the bad guys out West was Clint Eastwood, even if the movies were set in Southern Spain. But what got Clint into the really big time was when he began making those Dirty Harry movies in 1971.
And what made those movies so powerful and the violence so extreme? The fact that Clint (aka Harry Callahan) walked around San Francisco with a 44-magnum gun.
This gun, known as the Model 29, was