A hard but mediocre cop is assigned to escort a prostitute into custody from Las Vegas to Phoenix, so that she can testify in a mob trial. But a lot of people are literally betting that they won't make it into town alive.
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
In the scene where Harry is waiting for the school bus to drive under the bridge, you see Harry crouch as the bus approaches, as if to jump on the roof.
In the next shot, you can see Harry in the reflection of the bus windscreen, actually standing upright. See more »
[Harry is getting a dressing-down for his most recent arrest]
District Attorney Rothko:
You're lucky I'm not indicting you for assault with intent to commit murder.
District Attorney Rothko:
Where the hell does it say that you've got a right to kick down doors, torture suspects, deny medical attention and legal counsel? Where have you been? Does Escobedo ring a bell? Miranda? I mean, you must have heard of the Fourth Amendment. What I'm saying is that man had rights.
Well, I'm all broken up about that man's rights.
See more »
This stylish 1970s critique of the U.S. justice system is well known as a crime action drama, and is widely regarded as one of many breakthrough films for Clint Eastwood. Eastwood plays the same sort of character he typically plays - a likable tough guy with a powerful sense of justice and ice for blood. This Eastwood, however, has lost his wife to a drunk driver, some of his partners to murderous criminals, and some aspect of his sanity to his job. He's an inspector in the San Francisco police force's Homicide Division. The film is highly regarded for Eastwood's charismatic performance, for the boldness of the Dirty Harry character, and for the several spaghetti-western quotes uttered by Eastwood.
I have a slightly different take on this film. Dirty Harry was released in the same year as The French Connection - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067116/combined - a film partly based on real life detectives catching the feeling of police dealing with the hard realities of the drug trade in the big apple of the early 1970s. Dirty Harry - as cool as Eastwood's character may be - is a one-dimensional creature compared with Gene Hackman's Popeye Doyle. Something about Harry Callahan's political incorrectness resonates in a disturbing way with people who have only examined police work and the justice system through their televisions. The reality of this aspect of modern life is far less interesting, dramatic, and straightforward. And the critique of "American justice" is at least as powerfully made in the French Connection as it is here. Furthermore, The French Connection was an extremely innovative film, while Dirty Harry was a fairly typical stylized police-fantasy. The only explanations for the on-going popularity of this film, then, are Eastwood's charisma and the sheer entertainment value of this gutsy, gritty, hardcore crime drama.
Harry is on the trail of a serial killer played by the phenomenal character actor Andrew J. Robinson in his major film debut. Andy Robinson makes a great psycho, and, at times, appears so out-of-control (nicely contrasted with Eastwood's reptilian calm) that it is a wonder he didn't seriously injure himself during the shooting of the film. When Robinson abducts a young girl and buries her alive, extorting $200, 000 from the mayor's office, Harry uses some unconventional tactics to bring him to justice. This brings us slightly past the midpoint of the film, and just to the point where it accelerates into a first-rate action thriller.
While I think Dirty Harry is a very good film, and worth seeing at least a couple of times, I do not necessarily agree with the general opinion concerning the film. It is disappointing to me that this film did not make Andy Robinson the star that it helped to make Clint Eastwood into - especially since the range of characters and emotions these two men have shown themselves capable of is so disparate (in favor of Mr. Robinson). It is also surprising to me to see that the obvious connection (dare I say plagiarisn) between this film and the French Connection has been glossed over by film history so completely. In the same light, it bothers me that this film is rated so highly as compared with the French Connection. And finally, I am pleased that Dirty Harry is still a film that action fans enjoy, because unlike most of what the action genre produces today, this is a film with a message, and a subtle and hauntingly memorable intelligence.
45 of 71 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?