|Directed by||Don Siegel|
Dirty Harry is a 1971 American action thriller film produced and directed by Don Siegel, the first in the Dirty Harry series. Clint Eastwood plays the title role, in his first outing as San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan. The film drew upon the actual case of the Zodiac Killer as the Callahan character seeks out a similar vicious psychopath.
In the year 1971, San Francisco faces the terror of a maniac known as Scorpio- who snipes at innocent victims and demands ransom through notes left at the scene of the crime. Inspector Harry Callahan (known as Dirty Harry by his peers through his reputation handling of homicidal cases) is assigned to the case along with his newest partner Inspector Chico Gonzalez to track down Scorpio and stop him. Using humiliation and cat and mouse type of games against Callahan, Scorpio is put to the test with the cop with a dirty attitude. by commanderblue
This movie might appear simple, plain, predictable or even childish to some fan art movie fans, but for me it’s a true force! What it may lack in plot, it gains in superb acting, directing, script (“The most powerful handgun in the world” line is just unforgettable, it’s instant classic), and some decent social and philosophical ideas. It gives us a perspective on the way of maintaining order in the society which gradually decays at the astronomic speed. In 70s, it might have been an artistic impression, now it’s close to reality. This is truly the best part ever played by Clint Eastwood, and agruably one of the best and most stylish action movies ever. I give it 9/10
Harry Hates Everybody!
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 defining film of the 1970s
Author: Brian W. Fairbanks (email@example.com) from United States
18 October 2003
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.
Eastwood And Siegel: A Masterpiece
From the first scene, Eastwood dominates the movie and carves out Harry chewing up the scenery, kicking butts and taking names. The mayor, played by John Vernon, who usually dominates in his roles, watch ANIMAL HOUSE, does not have a chance against Eastwood. What are you doing, well for the last three quarters of an hour I have been sitting on my ass waiting on you. This is Dirty Harry; he takes crap from nobody. The counterculture’s only cop hero and he quits in the end. They would have fired him anyway. This is the best of the series; the rest are crap next to this one. It features the best villain SCORPIO played by Andrew Robinson and nobody did crazy, with the exception of Bruce Dern, like Andy. You will love hating him; you will look forward to seeing him get what he so richly deserves. Kids, women Andy doesn’t mind torturing and killing anybody. His dialogue is so well written, no don’t pass out on me yet you rotten oinker!!!
The most famous scene, where Harry foils a bank robbery, while chomping on a hot dog, is drop dead funny. “seeing this is a 44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off…” Please, enough said, watch the movie. This film is non stop action with great comedy thrown in to lighten the grim story. The scene with the jumper on top of the roof; well, Harry is probably the world’s worst social worker. It is also one of the funniest scenes in his films. Harry within the ‘get the man’ COOL HAND Luke era is a rebel like the hippies in the theater. The establishment does not work it is broken; Harry goes outside the rules like Luke. He has nothing but contempt for officialdom with a babbling idiot DA, played by Josef Sommer, prattling on about the rights of raving, murderous psychos.
This fits so well with COOL HAND Luke, the counterculture hero fighting the rules ‘get the man’ Harry is the same. This is why it shot Eastwood to the moon; the perfect role at just the right moment of American History. The hippies fighting the ‘man’ all piled into the cinemas a rebel cop showing us how the ‘man’s system’ was broken. At the end, Harry looks at his badge contemptuously and flings it away. Want to know how Eastwood became an Icon? Watch this Movie!!!
Something wild about Harry
Author: ian-433 from Edinburgh, Scotland
29 January 2005
Don Siegel’s highly polished .44 magnum-opus, with Clint Eastwood as the daddy (or should that be mutha?) of all maverick cops. Given an A-picture budget by Warners, Siegel delivered a tremendously taut thriller, as provocatively amoral as anything he had done in his 20-year career of expert B-pics like The Killers.
Dirty Harry also gave Eastwood a definitive Hollywood identity after leaving spaghetti westerns behind. It may lack the humour of Siegel and Eastwood’s first collaboration, Coogan’s Bluff, but it packs a much more uneasy political punch.
Inspector Harry Callaghan is the taciturn, laconic spokesman of Nixon’s Silent Majority, elevated to iconic status. His dialogue with criminals is delivered behind the barrel of a devastatingly phallic Magnum hand-gun. “Feel lucky, punk?” he taunts one wounded miscreant in a famous line he repeats at the end of the film.
There’s just enough moral ambiguity about Harry in this film to escape it being an endorsement of vigilantism – but if it poses resonating questions about how a liberal society can be held hostage by those outside the law, it also contrives a worryingly two-dimensional picture of psycho-killer Scorpio (Andy Robinson) – and of Harry, himself – with which to frame those questions.
Made by the veteran director in the same year as Hollywood-new wave young gun William Friedkin shot The French Connection, it’s just as coolly authoritative and exciting. Siegel uses Bruce Surtees’ always serviceable photography of San Francisco locations with flair (years before, he had shot the low-budget but excellent The Line-Up there). The swooping helicopter shot out of the baseball stadium, as if to rush the audience away (either as witnesses or as voyeurs) as Eastwood presses his foot on Scorpio’s wounded leg, shows Siegel’s smooth mastery of the medium.