Dirty Harry review by Tom Blain

Cool as they come.

Dirty Harry is a landmark film. It set the standard for the renegade cop film genre. I suppose you could make an arguement that Bullitt (also set in San Francisco) with Steve McQueen did so 3-4 years earlier, but its obvious that Clint Eastwood raises the level. Where Bullitt bends the rules and takes things into his own hands, Harry Callahan completely ignores the rules. They never seem to enter his mind. He has one goal and that is to bring justice, even if he has to do so with his trademark .44 magnum.

The politics of the film are pretty straightforward. From the beginning shot with the dedication to fallen San Francisco officers, it shows the incredible odds these men are up against. They risk their lives everyday and many times because of the rules, the work they have done to bring a man is all for naught. The hero, Harry Callahan, is on the case catching the 'Scorpio' serial murderer. Scorpio is a truly evil villain who is driven by some sort of madness to kill at random. To him it is a game of hide and seek he is playing with the police. Harry catches Scorpio but because he was 'mistreated' he was sent free. Of course because his a sick man, Scorpio does attempt to kill again, but instead of merely apprehending him Callahan kills him. After doing so, Callahan tosses his badge in a nearby reservoir as a symbol of his detatchment from a system he feels fails the public it is trying to protect. Pretty conservative views for the early 70s.

Clint Eastwood plays Dirty Harry almost like one of his cowboy roles in the ole Sergio Leone 'spaghetti westerns'. Its not as simple as good guys and bad guys in this film. Harry himself is almost an outlaw type, it just happens he plays for the right team. He is disrespectful to authority, he is a peeping tom (which gets him in trouble twice during the film), he tortures Scorpio to get information out of him about a dying girl (which is the reason Scorpio is free to go the first time he is caught), he brings down an attempted suicide jumper by knocking him out, and foils a bank robber but destroys thousands of dollars in public property doing so. But because he gets results (and because he is cool as ice) we idenify with above the law approach.

Eastwood not only plays cool, he gets all the cool lines as well. Each movie he has some trademark phrase that he repeats during the film and then unloads it on the enemy at the end. In Magnum Force it was "A mans got to know his limitations." In Sudden Impact, directed by Eastwood, he uttered the line that many incorrectly associate with Dirty Harry "Go ahead. Make my Day." In this film he uses the "Do you feel lucky punk?" monologue, in which he plays a game with the bad guy daring him to reach for his gun on the chance that Harry unloaded all six bullets.

Dirty Harry has become one of the great guy films because Clint Eastwood is such a bad mutha -(Shutcho mouth!). Because he nailed the role so well, its easy to see why they spawned off four sequels, although this one is by far the best. Not only did they make sequels but without Dirty Harry, there might not be films like Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop.

Quick note on the DVD. Its the first DVD I bought. I noticed they have newer packaging for it now, but I believe its pretty much the same. If so, there are no extras, just the movie. Some scenes don''t look very cleaned up, but they have it in both letterbox and standard for all the wusses out there. But as far as extras... zilch. Doesnt bother me much because I only cared about getting the movie itself, but some people may want more. A DVD's got to know its LIMITATIONS!




9 out of 10 Jackasses
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