Dirty Harry (1971)
"You've got to ask yourself a question: 'do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" Dirty Harry provoked a critical uproar in 1971 for its "fascist" message about the power of one, as it also elevated Clint Eastwood to superstar status through his most enduring screen persona. Harry Callahan (Eastwood, in a role meant for Frank Sinatra) is a sardonic, hard-working San Francisco cop who can't finish his lunch without having to foil a bank robbery with his 44 Magnum, "the most powerful handgun in the world." When hippie-esque psycho Scorpio (Andy Robinson) goes on a killing spree, Harry and new partner Chico (Reni Santoni) are assigned to hunt him down, but not before the Mayor (John Vernon) and Lt. Bressler (Harry Guardino) admonish Callahan about his heavy-handed tactics. Racing against a deadline to save a kidnap victim from suffocating to death and unbothered by the niceties of Miranda rights and search warrants, Callahan brings in Scorpio, only to see him released on technicalities. "The law's crazy," opines Harry in disgust, before taking it upon himself to ensure that Scorpio doesn't kill again. Directed in violent and efficient fashion by Don Siegel, with a propulsive score by Lalo Schifrin, Dirty Harry was the fourth Siegel-Eastwood collaboration after Coogan's Bluff (1968), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), and The Beguiled (1970). Critics at the time strongly objected to the heroic image of a cop's violations of a suspect's Miranda rights, forcing Siegel and Eastwood to deny that they were right-wing reactionaries. All the same, Dirty Harry proved to be highly popular and spawned four sequels: Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983), and The Dead Pool (1988). ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi … More
Related News & Features
National Film Registry Enshrines Dirty Harry, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and More
– Hollywood Reporter
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Critic Reviews for Dirty Harry
Clint Eastwood, in the title role, is a superhero whose antics become almost satire. Strip away the philosophical garbage and all that's left is a well-made but shallow running-and-jumping meller.
A crisp, beautifully paced film, full of Siegel's wonderful coups of cutting and framing.
No less than Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it offers a fabulous, multifarious political metaphor. (And, as with Body Snatchers, Siegel's own liberal interpretation was trumped by a more forceful hard-right reading.
If there aren't mentalities like Dirty Harry's at loose in the land, then the movie is irrelevant. If there are, we should not blame the bearer of the bad news.
What makes Dirty Harry worth watching no matter how dumb the story, is Siegel's superb sense of the city, not as a place of moods but as a theater for action.
A significant film ideologically, this right-wing revenge crimer catapulted Clint Eastwood to major stardom and launched a whole cycle of films about taking the law into your hands.
"Dirty Harry" is still one of the most enjoyable films you could hope to sit down with for a couple of hours.
Don Siegel's action thriller hasn't aged a single day since its release...
Siegel makes excellent use of San Francisco locations, even if Harry makes a few implausible leaps across town from time to time. The Kezar Stadium showdown in particular is a keeper.
The straw-man arguments made here skew towards caveman us-versus-them idiocy.
Don Siegel's Dirty Harry is an apt example of a film with a vision that few people perceive beyond its violent, flamboyant surfaces. If director Siegel might be a bit uncomfortable with a close reading of his movie, he also might be pleased that the...
... as Inspector Harry Callahan, known to the squad as Dirty Harry, Eastwood turned his frontier persona into an urban cowboy on the mean streets of our urban world.
If you don't buy this sociological stuff and consider Dirty Harry to be little more than an above average B-picture, it's impossible to deny it is a superb action movie.
...a taut, well-paced cop thriller with two solid adversaries in conflict.
A fascist film, or a film about a fascist cop? Either way, this is suspenseful, energetic stuff.
The Eastwood-Siegel combo packs more of a punch every year.
An all-time great that keeps getting better with age. Andrew Robinson's Scorpio gets my vote for the most loathsome movie villain ever.
The man with no name gets a nickname and a badge.
Audience Reviews for Dirty Harry
In the pursuit of the gleefully sadistic yet cowardly Scorpio killer, played to perfection by Andy Robinson, Detective Inspector Harry Callahan manages to step on the toes of every one of the bureaucratic superiors he holds in so much disdain. The man with no name may have been the character that made Clint a star, but it was Harry Callahan that made him an icon; he is the personification of tough guy charisma in one of the all-time classic cop thrillers. Don Siegel directs with incredible economy, encapsulating Callahan's character in a brief exchange with the mayor and his methods in the classic bank heist shoot out all within the first 15 minutes. No car chases, no explosions, no romantic interest. Just a brilliantly written, perfectly executed hard-boiled crime thriller scored wonderfully by best of the best, Lalo Schifrin. Nigh on perfect.More
A gritty and riveting thriller. A classic of its time and still works today. Clint Eastwood gives a real movie star performance, he has the grit, wit and tough as nails persona that shows why he was one of the true leading men of his time and one of the ultimate bad asses in film history. A tough. taunt and terrific film that still works and is the best of the series. It`s cool as hell and action-packed and always entertaining. A hard-edged and pulse-pounding edge of your seat thrill-ride.More
A police officer who has no respect for the law tracks a killer holding the city for ransom.
I don't think it's only because I didn't like the eponymous character that I didn't like the film as a whole. The killer has no motivations for his actions other than the cliched "He's just crazy," and the establishment's actions, personified by the mayor and police chief's conservative dealings with the killer, wreak of a contrived set-up to make Harry appear "heroic" - what the film considers "heroic" - by contrast. How heroism is constructed in this film is what makes it most interesting. I don't see it as a satire; rather, I think the film honestly thinks of Harry Callahan as a hero. And who is he? Well, he taunts victims, kills often, has no respect for the law, and takes matters into his own hands with aplomb. I can understand why America would take him as a cultural icon; we don't like rules and restrictions and often valorize rugged individualists. So I understand why Dirty Harry was made, and I understand why people like it, but America was founded on a combination of communitarian and individualist values, a fact the film elides.
Overall, Dirty Harry is a cliched action film, and the only thing about it that's interesting is why people like it.
Gritty cop thriller with a great Eastwood performance and some fantastic quotes. Full review later.More
Dirty Harry Quotes
- Callahan, I don't want anymore trouble like you had in the Fillmore district. Understand? That's my policy.
- Harry Callahan:
- Yeah, well when an adult male chases a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard. That's my policy.
- Intent? How did you establish that?
- Harry Callahan:
- When a naked man chases a woman in alley with a butcher knife, and a hard-on, I take it he's collecting for the Blue Cross.
- Harry Callahan:
- Go ahead. Make my day.
- Harry Callahan:
- You've got to ask yourself a question: 'do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?
- Harry Callahan:
- Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
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