Dirty Harry (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes

Dirty Harry (1971)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

"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, Rovimore
Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Rita M. Fink, Harry Julian Fink, Dean Riesner
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 18, 1997
Warner Home Video


Clint Eastwood
as Harry Callahan
John Mitchum
as De Georgio
Mae Mercer
as Mrs. Russell
Woodrow Parfrey
as Mr. Jaffe
Craig Kelly
as Sgt. Reineke
Jo De Winter
as Miss Willis
Maurice Argent
as Sid Kleinman
Charles Dorsett
as Television Watcher
Melody Thomas Scott
as Ann Mary Deacon
John Larch
as Police Chief
David Gilliam
as Homosexual
Ruth Kobart
as Bus Driver
Richard Lawson
as Homosexual
Jim Nolan
as Liquor Store Proprie...
George Fargo
as Homicide Detective
Angela Paton
as Homicide Detective
John W. Peebles
as Walkie Talkie Police...
Ernest Robinson
as Robber (uncredited)
Chuck Dorsett
as Television Watcher
Dean Webber
as Newsman
Debra Scott
as Ann Mary Deacon (unc...
Scott Hale
as Newsman
Joy Carlin
as Communications Secre...
James Nolan
as Liquor Store Proprie...
Allen Seaman
as Orderly
Stu Klitsner
as Policeman
Eddie Garrett
as Policeman
Diane Darnell
as Mayor's Secretary
Lois Foraker
as Hot Mary
John F. Vick
as Fired Chief
Tony Dario
as Police Sergeant
John Garber
as Tunnel Hoodlum
Max Gail
as Tunnel Hoodlum
Christopher Pray
as Tunnel Hoodlum
Mary Ann Neis
as Miss Van Sachs
Debbi Scott
as Ann Mary Deacon
Victor Paul
as Car Driver
Bob Harris
as Man in Truck
Joe Finnegan
as Man in Truck
Melody Thomas
as Ann Mary Deacon
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Dirty Harry

Critic Reviews for Dirty Harry

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (6)

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.

Full Review… | March 1, 2007
Top Critic

A crisp, beautifully paced film, full of Siegel's wonderful coups of cutting and framing.

Full Review… | March 1, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | April 4, 2006
Village Voice
Top Critic

Seminal law-and-order cinema.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | May 21, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

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.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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.

Al S

Super Reviewer

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.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Dirty Harry Quotes

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