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Dirty Harry (1971)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Thriller  |  23 December 1971 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 108,837 users  
Reviews: 290 user | 145 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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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


Dirty Harry and the homicidal maniac. Harry's the one with the badge. 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?


In the bank robbery scene, the movie theater across the street lists Play Misty for Me (1971), a movie Eastwood also starred in, and the first feature film directed by him, released earlier in 1971, on its marquee. See more »


There are numerous contradictions and inconsistencies with San Francisco Police Department polices on tailing suspects, correct radio procedures and etiquette, calling in their position, calling for backup, and unlawfully discharging their firearm (e.g., the police fire their guns into the air as warning shots). See more »


Harry Callahan: Get out of the way, Hammerhead.
See more »


Referenced in The Crow: Salvation (2000) See more »


No More Lies, Girl
Written and Performed by Lalo Schifrin
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Classic renegade justice
5 July 2005 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

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.

47 of 73 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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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
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Surprised they haven't re-done it makinithappen09
The Liquor store scene... peterhaavik
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