Dirty Harry Reviews
The film caused controversy when it was released, sparking debate over issues ranging from police brutality to victims' rights and the nature of law enforcement. Feminists in particular were outraged by the film and at the 44th Academy Awards protested outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, holding up banners which read messages such as "Dirty Harry is a Rotten Pig". Jay Cocks of Time praised Eastwood's performance as Dirty Harry, describing him as "giving his best performance so far, tense, tough, full of implicit identification with his character". Neal Gabler also praised Eastwood's performance in the film: "There's an incredible pleasure in watching Clint Eastwood do what he does, and he does it so well." Film critic Roger Ebert, while praising the film's technical merits, denounced the film for its "fascist moral position". A section of the Philippine police force ordered a print of the film for use as a training film. Since its release, the film's critical reputation has grown in stature. Dirty Harry was selected in 2008 by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. It was placed similarly on The Best 1000 Movies Ever Made list by The New York Times. In January 2010 Total Film included the film on its list of The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. TV Guide and Vanity Fair also included the film on their lists of the 50 best movies. A generation later, Dirty Harry is now regarded as one of the best films of 1971. In 2014, Time Out polled several film critics, directors, actors and stunt actors to list their top action films. Dirty Harry was listed at 78th place in this list. John Milius later said he loved the film. "I think it's a great film, one of the few recent great films, more important than The Godfather. It's larger than the sum of its parts; I don't think it's so brilliantly written or so brilliantly acted. Siegel can take more credit than anyone for it."
"Dirty Harry" is by far one of the best cop thrillers of the 70s in my opinion. Yes, you canīt deny the fact that SFPD Inspector Harry "Dirty Harry" Callahan, played magnificently by Clint Eastwood, is hardly your normal law abiding cop, but rather a brutal tour de force in reinforcing his ways as a police inspector in a way that is not that often along the lines of the law. Callahan is both the sheriff in town, but also the outlaw in town. He is a paradox with little respect for authorities, his service weapon is a non-regulation Magnum 44 and he is both a racist and a homophobe. But, yet he has also morals when protecting the weak and taking care of criminals that threathens society. Harry is unsympathetic in many ways, but at the same time he gets the dirty job done despite the violent outcomes. The juxtaposition of Harry's values/actions and the liberal city of San Francisco is interesting, and depending on your political stand point you might see him as either a fascist or a hero defending the public from crime while his superiors seem more concerned to defend the criminals. The film also points out the weakness of our legal system where Scorpio pushes for his civil rights once he is arrested by Harry and manages to walk away free as a bird despite the blood he has spilled, leading Harry to truly take the law in his own hands in the end. For me the opening sequence when Scorpio is on a rooftop shooting his first victim is such an iconic scene both visually and musically. It is such a great movie opening while the credits roll. Director Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood managed to create a fantastic modern urban western with a great dynamic and pace. Clint Eastwood was born to play Harry and it was a stroke of genius to hire Andy Robinson to play Scorpio as he is insanely magnificent in the role. He played the role so well that after the film was released, he received several death threats, and had to get an unlisted phone number. San Francisco as a city is as important as the key roles and itīs wonderful to see how Don Siegel has used the city as a stunning backdrop. And last but not least the funky jazz/electro/beat score by Lalo Schifrin is so good that I canīt praise it enough. The music adds so much in the film. "Dirty Harry" is controversial in many ways and thatīs why I like it.
Trivia: After Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel came on board the project, they hired writer Dean Riesner to work on the script. In his first rewrite, the bank robbery scene ends with Harry not pointing the gun at the robber, but placing it against his own temple. He pulls the trigger, laughs and then walks away. Eastwood and Siegel both felt this was too extreme, even for Harry Callahan.
Andrew Robinson created a backstory for Scorpio which involved him being drafted into the Vietnam War, and seeing unspeakable horrors. When he returned home to the United States, he found himself a figure of hate, and his war experiences, combined with the people's treatment of soldiers, caused him to go insane. The shoes Scorpio wears are actually Corcoran Jump Boots that are worn exclusively by Army Paratroopers.
Serial killer Scorpio was loosely based on the Zodiac killer, who used to taunt police and media with notes about his crimes, in one of which he threatened to hijack a school bus full of children. The role of Harry Callahan was loosely based on real life detective David Toschi who was the chief investigator in the Zodiac case.
Scorpio wears a belt with a peace symbol buckle throughout the film. According to director Don Siegel, "It reminds us that no matter how vicious a person is, when he looks in the mirror he is still blind to what he truly is".
When Universal allowed its option on the film and characters to lapse, Warner Bros. purchased the rights with a view to cast Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was interested, however he had broken his wrist during the filming of The Manchurian Candidate (1962) eight years previously, and during contract negotiations, he found the large handgun too unwieldy. Additionally, his father had recently passed away, and Sinatra decided he wanted to do some lighter material. After Sinatra dropped out, Warner Bros. considered Marlon Brando for the role, but never officially approached him. Next, they offered it to Steve McQueen and then Paul Newman, both of whom turned it down (McQueen didn't want to do another cop movie after Bullitt (1968) and Newman felt the film was too right-wing). Newman however suggested Clint Eastwood as a possible star.
When composer Lalo Schifrin was scoring the film, he told director Don Siegel that he wanted to use female vocals for the scenes with the Scorpio killer in them. When Siegel asked him why, Schifrin replied that he believed Scorpio was conflicted about what he was doing as he wore a peace symbol belt buckle yet he was a murderer. Schifrin believed that Scorpio heard voices in his head and the female vocals would represent that. (This particular score was later sampled by rap group NWA in 1991 for the rap song 'Approach to Danger'.)
Clint Eastwood objected to the end of the film when Harry throws his badge away after killing the Scorpio Killer, arguing with director Don Siegel that Harry knew that being a policeman was the only work for which he was suited (and indeed the sequel Magnum Force (1973) begins with Harry still on the force, with no indication that he ever quit). Siegel eventually convinced Eastwood that Harry threw his badge away as a symbol that he had lost faith in the justice system.
The film is very exciting and the acting is solid. The killer got that psychopath look, laugh and methods, and the story is folded neatly. Many chasing scenes and thrilling moments. The supercool music also needs a mention. This is pure 70's cinema and is up there along with many other good crime thrillers from that era. I was quite certain that "Dirty Harry" was a western film, but this is pretty much a straight up police versus bad guy film. And a solid one too.
7.5 out of 10 school bus songs.
Clint Eastwood's typically subdued turn as Harry Callahan is one of his best, as 'Dirty Harry' has heavily influenced many modern day crime movies with its undeniable style and gripping structure; even if it is a little dated at times.
It is pretty dated, but it does have its moments where if you watch it today, you can still appreciate what made this a really good film. Eastwood carried the film with his badassness if thats a word, and he executed his role with precision.
The villain is a pretty evil puppy, and his crimes are somewhat iconic in film.
The movie is damn good, just not something I would call all time great.