7.7/10
141,496
365 user 143 critic

Dirty Harry (1971)

Trailer
2:53 | Trailer
When a madman calling himself "the Scorpio Killer" menaces the city, tough as nails San Francisco Police Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan is assigned to track down and ferret out the crazed psychopath.

Director:

Don Siegel

Writers:

Harry Julian Fink (screenplay), Rita M. Fink (screenplay) (as R.M. Fink) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
2,886 ( 192)
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Clint Eastwood ... Harry
Harry Guardino ... Bressler
Reni Santoni ... Chico
John Vernon ... The Mayor
Andrew Robinson ... Killer (as Andy Robinson)
John Larch ... Chief
John Mitchum ... De Georgio
Mae Mercer Mae Mercer ... Mrs. Russell
Lyn Edgington Lyn Edgington ... Norma
Ruth Kobart ... Bus Driver
Woodrow Parfrey ... Mr. Jaffe
Josef Sommer ... Rothko
William Paterson William Paterson ... Bannerman
James Nolan ... Liquor Proprietor
Maurice Argent Maurice Argent ... Sid Kleinman (as Maurice S. Argent)
Edit

Storyline

In 1971, San Francisco faces the terror of a maniac known as the "Scorpio Killer" (Andrew Robinson), who snipes at innocent victims and demands ransom through notes left at the scene of the crime. Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is assigned to the case along with his newest partner Inspector Chico Gonzalez (Reni Santoni) 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

Taglines:

Double Trouble! See more »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Harry drives a 1968 Ford Galaxie 500, California plate "WKH 370". See more »

Goofs

The blood on Harry's leg from the bank robbers who shot him is clearly paint and has no entry wounds. See more »

Quotes

Harry Callahan: There must be something you can get him on.
Judge Bannerman: Without the evidence of the gun and the girl, I couldn't convict him of spitting on the sidewalk.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, the word "Dirty" in the title is in brown as opposed to the rest of the credits' yellow. See more »

Alternate Versions

Harry Callahan's character name becomes Harry ''Callaghan'' in the Italian version's subtitles and overdubbing because the local distributor thought it sounded better. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jellyscream! (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Old MacDonald Had a Farm
(uncredited)
Written by Traditional
See more »

User Reviews

"Harry Hates Everybody!"
14 February 1999 | by stryker-5See all my reviews

How radically different cinema history, and our collective consciousness, would have been if Frank Sinatra hadn't injured his hand before shooting started on "Dirty Harry". Sinatra was due to play Harry, but had to withdraw, clearing the way for Clint. Given Sinatra's unique brand of self-loathing, Harry would have been an uglier personality than Clint made him. As it is, Lieutenant Callaghan is an ornery anti-liberal cuss of a guy, but he is straight and likeable. Arguably, it was this characterisation which made Eastwood a megastar.

San Francisco in 1971 was ready for stardom itself. The West Coast love-in scene and the gay 'boom', together with McQueen's "Bullitt", raised awareness of San Francisco as an exciting liberal city with a photogenic skyline. The film's funky score by Lalo Schifrin is perfectly-judged, and spawned numerous imitators.

The central narrative concerns a lone nut who is trying to hold the city to ransom. He starts by murdering citizens to extort money from the mayor, then progresses to kidnapping children. This plays cleverly on the inchoate anxieties of Middle America, where law-abiding people were puzzled and alarmed at the 'crime wave' and the threat it posed to them and their families. Crime in the decades before the Kennedy assassination had been compartmentalised by Hollywood. Gangsters were bad, but they killed other gangsters. Now the danger was unpredictable, irrational - and solitary. The lone madman was as likely to strike against me or you as against an institution. Only a single-minded strong man, operating on the fringes of the rules, could combat this new terror.

Harry is a paradox. In one sense, he is an 'outlaw'. He has little respect for formal authority (in the opening minutes, we see him being rude to the mayor) and he carries a strictly non-regulation monster of a gun. Harry is openly racist and mutinous. And yet he is also deeply moral. He conforms to an unarticulated ethical code that is anglosaxon American. He protects the weak and confronts the wrongdoers, no matter how the odds are stacked against him. Indeed, the cowardly bureaucrats who will never reward him or promote him are able to exploit his profound decency. They send him on all the difficult, dirty jobs because they know that his sense of right and wrong won't allow him to walk away.

Early in the film, the famous bank robbery scene occurs. This has become so familiar that it hardly needs elaborating here, but to summarise, Harry foils an armed robbery using icy courage and grim humour - and his magnum handgun. The special brand of Eastwood humour recurs throughout the story (eg, the suicide jumper and the gay called 'Alice'). White anglosaxon America is encouraged to laugh at the undergroups which supposedly threaten it.

When the bad guy 'Scorpio' is cornered, he immediately starts bleating about his civil rights. This is meant to arouse our fury, because we have seen him callously destroying the lives of others, and here he is exploiting the protection of the state. To make matters worse, the state agrees with him. We see the DA and a judge explaining to Harry why the cogent evidence against Scorpio is inadmissible. Just exactly why the DA would call a meeting with a lowly policeman in order to explain department policy is far from clear, but the scene is thematically necessary. Scorpio is using the System against the decent, godfearing people who own it. The liberal apparatus is skewed if it lets a killer walk away scot-free.

There are some illogicalities about the plot. Such an important event as the cash drop is left to two cops working alone, when in reality there would be a massive covert operation. When Scorpio beats the rap, there is no public outcry or media storm, and he is allowed to get on with his anonymous existence virtually untroubled.

However, this hardly matters since the main thrust of the story is the coming showdown between Harry and the bad guy. As the climax approaches, Harry drops out of the police operation. Scorpio is at his manic worst on the hi-jacked school bus, alienating us nicely and suppressing any liberal twitches we may still be feeling. Then we see Harry, standing as upright and sturdy as the Statue Of Liberty ....


146 of 195 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 365 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 December 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dead Right See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$35,976,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$35,976,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Malpaso Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed