Dirty Harry (1971)

Action, Crime, Thriller
Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni
When a mad man calling himself 'the Scorpio Killer' menaces the city, tough as nails San Francisco Police Inspector Harry Callahan is assigned to track down and ferret out the crazed psychopath.
  • Warner Home Video Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 23 Dec 1971 Released:
  • 18 Nov 1997 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink Writer:
  • Don Siegel Director:
  • N/A Website:

Trailer:

One of the defining film of the 1970s10/10

Released on Christmas Day 1971, "Dirty Harry" transformed Clint Eastwood from cult figure to superstar. Another maverick cop thriller, "The French Connection," was released a few months earlier, and it may have won the Oscars and garnered the critical acclaim, but "Dirty Harry" is the true classic of the two, and the most influential. Great action magnificently directed by Don Siegel, the master of the genre, great dialogue, and relentless tension make this the ultimate detective thriller and one of the defining films of the 1970s.
No Nonsense, No Baloney9/10
This was the first of the always-entertaining "Dirty Harry" cop series and it was a good one - maybe the best of the series.

One of Harry's famous lines was in this opener: "Do ya feel lucky, punk?" Speaking of punks, Andy Robinson, who played the villain, never got famous as Clint Eastwood ("Harry") certainly became but he was tremendous in this film. He didn't even have to utter a line: he just looked deranged! Great casting.

Looking back, the one thing I really appreciate about this film as opposed to the rest of them in this series was the absence of Harry's annoying superiors constantly on his case. He actually got support from his bosses in this movie.

The film as a big hit because people were already tired of all the liberal preaching of the 1960s in which we were supposed to feel sympathy for the criminal instead of the victim. This series was on the side of the cops, not the crooks, which is probably why the sick film critics never liked Dirty Harry.

This is one solid crime story with no boring spots and no sappy sub-plots with romances, either. And it's always nice to enjoy the interesting San Francisco skyline.
Eastwood and his .44 Magnum blew away this original action classic!8/10

In quoting these famous lines: "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do!" and "Go ahead, make my day!". They meant something for Clint Eastwood, turning from cowboy to hit man with a surge of raging anger and ambition. The mountain terrains became an urban metropolis, thus putting the guy off the saddle and into the bloody streets of San Francisco. Which makes DIRTY HARRY an incredible classic not to be missed, as well as Eastwood's shift to the action genre where society is run by evil. Its continuous impact of the events take place with a tight grip and a smooth pace. This remains to be one of the most entertaining experiences in classic movie history. All it takes is a cop over the edge and "The Most Powerful Handgun In The World".

Violence was the key factor of DIRTY HARRY, and continues to be violent even today. We've never come to see staggering sights of brutalities before, but it was made possible to heighten the overall realism of a dark San Francisco infested with crime. Another was the quality of Clint Eastwood's character as "Harry Callahan", which was obviously a breakthrough for him at the time. He is best described as a smart-talking cop who hated criminals and broken the laws in serving time for the police. A very unique character he was, for going by his own personal business and taking the job "dirty". The best acheivement goes for the cinematography. It sure doesn't look pretty, but the effectiveness of the dark renders this haunting where no place is safe enough to run or hide. The real winner is Don Siegel, for presenting the perfect atmosphere to shoot a picture that already had a premise driven by fear and anxiety, anger and tension. He sure hasn't done anything like this before, and possibly no movie had since then. Otherwise, we would have still been seeing these one-dollar Western shows in the afternoon!

Watch DIRTY HARRY today and you can see how the styles of moviemaking has evolved slow and easy, but it still packs a powerful bullet or two. If you've seen this six times or only five, you knew how lucky Clint Eastwood got the perfect part for being an all-new action star. This is the one, and original cop movie. And remember, this is "In Tribute To The Police Officers Of San Francisco Who Gave Their Lives In The Line Of Duty"!
"Harry Hates Everybody!"5/10

How radically different cinema history, and our collective consciousness, would have been if Frank Sinatra hadn't injured his hand before shooting started on "Dirty Harry". Sinatra was due to play Harry, but had to withdraw, clearing the way for Clint. Given Sinatra's unique brand of self-loathing, Harry would have been an uglier personality than Clint made him. As it is, Lieutenant Callaghan is an ornery anti-liberal cuss of a guy, but he is straight and likeable. Arguably, it was this characterisation which made Eastwood a megastar.

San Francisco in 1971 was ready for stardom itself. The West Coast love-in scene and the gay 'boom', together with McQueen's "Bullitt", raised awareness of San Francisco as an exciting liberal city with a photogenic skyline. The film's funky score by Lalo Schifrin is perfectly-judged, and spawned numerous imitators.

The central narrative concerns a lone nut who is trying to hold the city to ransom. He starts by murdering citizens to extort money from the mayor, then progresses to kidnapping children. This plays cleverly on the inchoate anxieties of Middle America, where law-abiding people were puzzled and alarmed at the 'crime wave' and the threat it posed to them and their families. Crime in the decades before the Kennedy assassination had been compartmentalised by Hollywood. Gangsters were bad, but they killed other gangsters. Now the danger was unpredictable, irrational - and solitary. The lone madman was as likely to strike against me or you as against an institution. Only a single-minded strong man, operating on the fringes of the rules, could combat this new terror.

Harry is a paradox. In one sense, he is an 'outlaw'. He has little respect for formal authority (in the opening minutes, we see him being rude to the mayor) and he carries a strictly non-regulation monster of a gun. Harry is openly racist and mutinous. And yet he is also deeply moral. He conforms to an unarticulated ethical code that is anglosaxon American. He protects the weak and confronts the wrongdoers, no matter how the odds are stacked against him. Indeed, the cowardly bureaucrats who will never reward him or promote him are able to exploit his profound decency. They send him on all the difficult, dirty jobs because they know that his sense of right and wrong won't allow him to walk away.

Early in the film, the famous bank robbery scene occurs. This has become so familiar that it hardly needs elaborating here, but to summarise, Harry foils an armed robbery using icy courage and grim humour - and his magnum handgun. The special brand of Eastwood humour recurs throughout the story (eg, the suicide jumper and the gay called 'Alice'). White anglosaxon America is encouraged to laugh at the undergroups which supposedly threaten it.

When the bad guy 'Scorpio' is cornered, he immediately starts bleating about his civil rights. This is meant to arouse our fury, because we have seen him callously destroying the lives of others, and here he is exploiting the protection of the state. To make matters worse, the state agrees with him. We see the DA and a judge explaining to Harry why the cogent evidence against Scorpio is inadmissible. Just exactly why the DA would call a meeting with a lowly policeman in order to explain department policy is far from clear, but the scene is thematically necessary. Scorpio is using the System against the decent, godfearing people who own it. The liberal apparatus is skewed if it lets a killer walk away scot-free.

There are some illogicalities about the plot. Such an important event as the cash drop is left to two cops working alone, when in reality there would be a massive covert operation. When Scorpio beats the rap, there is no public outcry or media storm, and he is allowed to get on with his anonymous existence virtually untroubled.

However, this hardly matters since the main thrust of the story is the coming showdown between Harry and the bad guy. As the climax approaches, Harry drops out of the police operation. Scorpio is at his manic worst on the hi-jacked school bus, alienating us nicely and suppressing any liberal twitches we may still be feeling. Then we see Harry, standing as upright and sturdy as the Statue Of Liberty ....


One of "The" films of the 1970s9/10
Don Siegel's "Dirty Harry" was arguably the start of the serial killer/cop genre inherent in so many mainstream American movies released today. Setting the stage for countless rip-offs and sequels, "Dirty Harry" was one of the true first of its kind--not only in regards to its genre influence but also in terms of its content. (Full frontal nudity, heavy vigilante-style violence and strong language.) It is, in fact, one of the quintessential 1970s films--capturing the very essence of the typical gritty '70s film style we're all familiar with. If "Midnight Cowboy" began the trend, "Dirty Harry" extends it.

Clint Eastwood delivers one of his finest performances as the titular "Dirty" Harry Callahan. He's got just the right amount of cocky cynacism and inset sense of self-justice and importance to make the character realistic and likable, despite his flaws.

The plot almost seems routine now, but back in '71 it was controversial stuff: Harry is a tough cop trying to track down a mad serial killer in San Francisco, who is murdering victims in an effort to receive ransom money. When he kidnaps a young girl, Harry makes it his mission to disobey direct orders and take on the killer by himself.

It's easy to point at this now and say, "I've seen this already." In many cases film classics can only be graded well for nostalgic purposes, because their imitators have improved upon the original material.

Not here. The original really does still remain (one of) the best.

Siegel would later follow up "Dirty Harry" with another examination of criminals and cops, and would also team up again with Clint Eastwood. This is probably his best film, which is saying a lot. Its reputation precedes it, but in this case, the strength of the film itself really is deserving of its popularity. The final speech is awesome stuff.