Anthony's Film Review

Dirty Harry (1971)

Dirty Harry is a pretty good cop film and certainly notable for its unique protagonist...

In his early days, Clint Eastwood made a significant mark on Hollywood as an actor. When you look back on his career, you can find plenty of films in which he exemplifies the on-screen tough guy. Several of them are westerns. Aside from that, there's Dirty Harry, the 1971 police thriller whose title character, Inspector Harry Callahan, would inspire many cinematic tough guys down the line. Many would say that Dirty Harry, both the film and the character, defines Clint Eastwood.

As for the movie itself, Dirty Harry is not a classic masterpiece. However, the movie is still notable in the genre of police thrillers. It has what you'd expect: a murder, a protagonist cop exploring the case, a cat-and-mouse chase, promising clues, dangerous situations, and unexpected twists. What makes Dirty Harry unique is its grittiness. At first glance, you might think you're watching a more friendly cop film. Soon, it'll present some profane language, nudity, and violence, all of which made the movie rather dark for its time.

The plot involves the hunt for a sniper in San Francisco named Scorpio (Andy Robinson). In the beginning, he kills a woman swimming in a rooftop pool. That's when Harry Callahan goes on the case. He reluctantly works with a partner named Chico Gonzales (Reni Santoni), follows a few leads, and also detours to stop a bank robbery and prevent a suicide. Later, there is an interesting sequence where Callahan has to deliver ransom money to Scorpio or else a teenage girl dies. He carries the money all over San Francisco while receiving more instructions from Scorpio through various pay phones.

Just when the story seems standard, there's a turning point. Callahan is chastised by the district attorney for obtaining evidence against Scorpio through illegal methods. That sets the killer free. With Callahan on a lone pursuit, Scorpio attempts to get away but cannot resist his urge to go crazy. This leads to another nice sequence involving the hijack of a school bus. The latter part of the film is when the personalities of the hero and villain become vivid. Callahan is the hardened determined cop while Scorpio is a crazed man, very much like the real-life Zodiac Killer at the time.

Again, the plot of Dirty Harry is nothing extraordinary. It's still entertaining to watch thanks to everyone involved, including director Don Siegel. Essentially, Dirty Harry is famous for its brave take on cop thrillers and the title character's famous quote ("I know what you're thinking. 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 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?"). The quote sounds great when you read it. And when Clint Eastwood says it in his famous tough-guy persona, it definitely generates at least a nod of approval.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Dirty Harry, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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