Dirty Harry (1971)

dirtyharry_1971_poster
Dirty Harry (1971)
  • Time: 102 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller
  • Director: Don Siegel
  • Cast: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Andrew Robinson

Storyline:

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.

One review

  • In the early 70s, the city of San Francisco was a place of many diverse lifestyles. As a seasoned officer for the SFPD, Inspector Harry Callahan has made these various experiences his routine, and he doesn’t like it one bit. Preferring the “shoot first, ask second” approach to police work, Callahan is living in a city where his version of justice is old-fashioned. His grit has put him at odds with the upper-ranks, and as a result he is given every dirty case investigation.
    When we first meet our titular character, he has been brought into the Mayor’s office because a psychotic man self-named “Scorpio” has sent a ransom letter. The man has already killed once, and we have seen his skill with a sniper rifle. The criminal says that he will continue his killing rampage unless he is given $100,000. Contrary to Callahan’s insistence on taking down the crook before he kills again, the department decides to play the bad guy’s game. This decision will send Callahan to track down the elusive Scorpio, and to reveal the growing failure in the city’s justice system.

    For years and years, I’ve heard that Dirty Harry is a classic. The “did I fire five shots or six?” and “do you feel lucky, punk?” lines have been on every list I’ve ever seen of “Most Famous Lines of All-Time”, and so I was excited to see this film at last. Clint Eastwood is a master of the “lone hero” sub-genre of action flicks, and this is one of his signature roles. While this film does highlight Eastwood’s steely composure and quick gun-hand, I found this film lacking in one major area: its storyline. Maybe it was the fact that I watched it on TV (meaning multiple pauses for fast-forwarding), or maybe it’s because it truly did lack in proper execution, but this movie just did not flow well enough for my liking. Hailed as one of the best thrillers of the 1970s, I came into this film with quite high expectations, and these prospects were found soundly untouched.
    Putting aside this fault, from a technical standpoint, this film was well done. The cinematography was done reasonably well, and the acting was the same. Though this movie did not receive any attention from the Academy, this film in my opinion was edited very well.
    Following my time watching this film, I looked up some other people’s reviews, both amateur and professional. In some cases, the reviewer saw something in the film that I did not. However, I found the factor that both made it a success at its time of release and the reason why it did not click with me: it’s portrayal of society at a time where it clashed with the norm. At the time of Dirty Harry’s release, the popular trend in society was to be more focused on sympathizing with the killer and less on the victim. This film was in conflict with the fashionable and recycled idea of its time period, and that is what makes this film a classic.
    In addition to the storyline flaws, there were also some, in my opinion, unneeded nudity pieces. We see at least two naked women (prostitutes), and I don’t think that they added to the story. As I think about it, I think that I know where the director was going with it. By showing these foul people living in the city that Callahan has sworn to protect, we see one of the major reasons why he does not trust in his own city

    With the combination of the pacing errors and the extraneous nudity, I found this film to be pretty good, yet not as good as I had hoped. I think that this film only did fire five shots and not six; leaving one needed bullet in the chamber.

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