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Dirty Harry (1971)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Thriller  |  23 December 1971 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 108,897 users  
Reviews: 290 user | 146 critic

When a mad man calling himself 'the Scorpio Killer' menaces the city, tough as nails San Francisco Police Inspector Harry Callahan is assigned to track down and ferret out the crazed psychopath.



(screenplay), (screenplay) (as R.M. Fink) , 5 more credits »
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Killer (as Andy Robinson)
John Larch ...
John Mitchum ...
Mae Mercer ...
Mrs. Russell
Lyn Edgington ...
Ruth Kobart ...
Bus Driver
William Paterson ...
James Nolan ...
Liquor Proprietor
Maurice Argent ...
Sid Kleinman (as Maurice S. Argent)


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. Written by commanderblue

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


You don't assign him to murder cases, You just turn him loose. See more »


Action | Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

23 December 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead Right  »

Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)


SEK 1,540,127 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


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. See more »


In the opening scene, the view through the rifle's scope does not match the angle between the rooftop and the swimming pool. See more »


Liquor Store Owner: [noticing Scorpio's battered face] What the hell happened to you?
The Killer: My wife's brother. I hit her, so he hit me... several times.
See more »


Referenced in White Collar: Withdrawal (2010) See more »


Harry's Hot Dog
Written by Lalo Schifrin
Performed by Lalo Schifrin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Something wild about Harry
29 January 2005 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland) – See all my reviews

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.

Siegel made the insouciant Charley Varrick with Walter Matthau next, after which his career went into slow decline.

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Is the original the best Dirty Harry movie? rsilva00-1
Did Harry know he fired six shots? alextimman
mistake in one of cinema's most famous scenes CantRainAllTheTime512
If they every made another Dirty Harry movie... Jersey_Red
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The Liquor store scene... peterhaavik
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