Of the five 'Dirty Harry' movies, it was this film that used the catchphrase "Go ahead, make my day" whereupon it became synonymous with the Harry Calahan character and became popularized into the vernacular of popular culture. Although Clint Eastwood made the phrase "Go ahead, make my day" famous, it was originally used a year earlier by actor Gary Swanson in the movie Vice Squad (1982). Swanson, who played a Hollywood vice cop, said the line, "Go ahead, scumbag, make my day," to actor Wings Hauser, who played a pimp, during a bust. The quote is often erroneously attributed by most people to be from the first movie of this series, Dirty Harry (1971). The phrase was also voted in a 2005 poll by the American Film Institute as the No. #6 most memorable line in cinema history. The phrase was so well publicized and became so popular that many members of the public knew about it by the time the movie opened.
Clint Eastwood is seen wearing Gargoyles sunglasses, which would later surface in The Terminator (1984). The latter film also spawned an ad campaign with Arnold Schwarznegger wearing the sunglasses, saving the company from bankruptcy.
Charles B. Pierce wrote the line "Go ahead, make my day." The line was inspired by a warning that his father would say to Pierce when he was a child. According to Pierce, his father warned him "When I come home tonight and the yard has not been mowed, you're gonna make my day."
The only Dirty Harry film where Callahan uses a semi-automatic handgun. The gun is a large caliber semi-automatic pistol .44 AutoMag. It was developed by the Auto Mag Corporation between 1966 and 1971 to translate the power of .44 magnum to a semi-automatic pistol. Cartridges for the .44 Auto Mag were originally formed using surplus .30-06 or .308 Winchester (similar to the 7.62 x 51 NATO) - at the time of the film's release ammunition for the Auto Mag firearms were available from Norma in Sweden (see also Beverly Hills Cop II). The brand of weapon that Sondra Locke uses in the film was .38 snub-nosed revolver.
This movie was not the first time that Clint Eastwood directed himself as the Dirty Harry character, though it is the first entire film where he did so. When Don Siegel was sick with the flu, Eastwood directed the suicide jumper scene in the first Dirty Harry (1971).
In promoting this film, Clint Eastwood said: "I think the public is interested in justice, and that's what Harry stands for. He's unique because he stood for the same principles from the beginning, when it wasn't terribly fashionable...People are little edgy about the rights of criminals taking precedent over the rights of victims. They are more impatient with courtroom procedures and legal delays".
The film's famous "Go ahead, make my day" line went on to be immortalized by the American Presidency when then US President Ronald Reagan used it in a key address when he said, "I have my veto pen drawn and ready for any tax increase that Congress might even think of sending up. And I have only one thing to say to the tax increasers. Go ahead--make my day." This was on 13th March 1985 in a speech threatening to veto legislation raising taxes at the American Business Conference.
The reason the film was made at all had to do with a survey. Warner Bros. was preparing to release the Sean Connery James Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983) and they took a survey. They asked movie goers to name an actor and a famous part that actor played. Clint Eastwood as "Dirty Harry" scored so high in the survey results, the studio told Eastwood it would be "open" to distributing another "Dirty Harry" film. Eastwood made this film as a result of that meeting.
The carousel Jennifer is researching is the "1911 Looff Carousel" located at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz,California. In 1987 the U.S. Park Service declared the ornate merry-go-round a National Historic Landmark along with the Boardwalk's 1924 Giant Dipper roller coaster.
The scene where Callahan chases the robber in the senior citizen bus was filmed at and around the Pacific Garden Mall in Santa Cruz, California. This area was heavily damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake on 17 October 1989. Many of the buildings in this scene had to be razed, due to extensive earthquake damage.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The production company had to keep a diver on the set during the filming of the climactic scene filmed on a pier in which Callahan shoots the bad guy. When the gun would jam, which it did frequently, Clint Eastwood would in a fit of rage throw the gun a considerable distance into the water. The diver would retrieve the gun, which would be dried out, repaired, and reloaded for the next take.