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Dirty Harry (1971)

Action & Adventure movie directed by Don Siegel starring Clint Eastwood

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"Harry! You broke the murderer's window when you caught him. Gotta let him go."

  • Dec 28, 2010
Well how do you like that?!  You get the brass ring in your sights, after a long and painful journey and someone hits the reset button on you.  They say those are the rules and they had to do it, MAYBE you can see they're argument but you know you just got screwed badly.  It stings having to do your job ALL OVER AGAIN, but not as much knowing that it's going to do more harm then good.

Dirty Harry is THE cop movie.  No wisecracking buddies or gimmicks, Harry Calahan is a cop.  He's a good one and he'll be the first to tell you he's dirty cause no job is beneath him.  That comes into play when Harry gets called on to catch a man only known as Scorpio, a sniper whos stalking the city by the Bay with threats of violence unless the city pays up.  Harry is ready for the job but not ready for the bureaucratic BS that comes attached to the job.  Harry knows that the Scorpio killer is scum who needs to be brought to justice but the heads in charge have civil liberties to worry about Harry breaking.

The original Dirty Harry did set a standard for the series by having those tough but very real questions about police work and laws.  Harry sure enough after enough blood and heartache catches the killer but because of some very real technicalities, the jerk gets to walk.  Harry needs a warrant, Harry can't torture the injured man to find where a very real girl is being held captive, with the ID of the girl being a bra and that raises even more alarms to how sick the Scorpio killer is, but the system is more then ready to look the other way and pat Scorpio on the back when even ONE of his rights have been trounced upon.  The rules are in place to protect potential innocent people who can get caught in the line of fire.  But sometimes the rules need to look at common sense. 

The film also gets the credit for having the dirtiest villian in the series (who allegedly got death threats in real life after this came out)  I knew this going in and wondered how much of a creep he really was, and yeah I nearly put a pen to paper after this was over.  It would have looked like this:

Dear Andrew Robinson,

I just saw Dirty Harry and while I have no kids and don't live in San Francisco or whereever you live, if I see you in public I will try and run you over with my Ford. 

P.S.  Loved you on Deep Space Nine as Garak.

The other Dirty Harry movies were much more formula and got gimmicky after this one and it's probably the reason why the first is still the most loved.  It has a dark and dangerous tone, it doesn't throw softballs and had a fresh idea for the time.  Dirty Harry is one of those movie characters who isn't a nice guy, but a good guy and your definition of "good" depends on how extreme you think his methods are.

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December 30, 2010
Oh so classic, well done.
December 28, 2010
Highly entertaining review! I love it! You need to go all the way so we can get a super-special Booming badge! LOL!
December 29, 2010
Heres the scary part, I can imagine in real life a lawyer getting a criminal off the hook cause of something as lame as a broken window. I WILL get to the other films. I need to rewatch Magnum Force just to get the feel for it again and Sudden Impact is gonna be tough. I just saw The Dead Pool and it's still fresh in my mind.
More Dirty Harry (1971 movie) reviews
review by . April 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****       In many ways, "Dirty Harry" is just like all the other run-of-the-mill revenge flicks out there, although there is, in fact, a slight catch; "Dirty Harry" was pretty original at the time. It's the kind of film that sets the stage for a certain part of a certain genre, preferably here, the action sub-genre known as the "cop film", but this does not mean that we love it. I find it just as hard to love "Dirty Harry" as I do to hate it. There's an …
Quick Tip by . January 03, 2012
A classic of action cinema, Dirty Harry is a must see for those that crave a well done thriller. while the "politics" of the film are still controversial to some to this day, there is no doubt that this film will grip you from beginning to end.
Quick Tip by . December 28, 2010
Tough cop is on the trail of a psychotic sniper and ends up battling not only the sniper but dept policies involving rights and regulations. Prototype maverick cop movie that others still draw inspiration from and launched a new movie series.
review by . August 15, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Clint Eastwood     Cons: full of cons and he's putting them in jail     The Bottom Line: _______________        "I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking, did he fire six shots or only five? Well to tell you the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question: do I feel …
review by . October 06, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
This is the first of five "Dirty Harry" films in which Eastwood stars as a San Francisco police detective. By the time the last appeared (The Dead Pool, in 1988), Eastwood had aged and times had changed but Callahan's values and methods remained essentially the same. When initially released, Dirty Harry was immediately controversial as was Death Wish (1974). Audiences tended to be divided between those who were offended by what they considered to be excessive violence and those who (like Harry Callahan …
review by . May 15, 2003
"Well, do ya, punk?"  If you recently watched this film, I'm sure you do. "Dirty Harry" is a legendary action film and a classic Eastwood flick, definitely among his greatest. Eastwood is "Dirty" Harry Callahan, a cop who always gets the job done - anyway it takes. Well-directed with a dynamite script and a funky score; definitely not something you should miss. Now what else was I gonna say...  "Well to tell you the truth I've forgot myself in all this excitement."
review by . January 04, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
Action-Packed this movie definitely is. Clint Eastwood delivers his own brand of justice in tracking down a serial killer to plagues the city of San Fransisco. The plot certainly has many exciting twists and turns as the elusive villain (Andy Robinson) is able to dodge a conviction because Eastwood's anger gets the best of him. However, Robinson to hijack a bus full of school children and Dirty Harry spots the opening and tracks his man down. Was it five shots or six, but Mr. Robinson sure was not …
About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #8
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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About this movie


Whether or not you can sympathize with its fascistic-vigilante approach to law enforcement,Dirty Harry(directed by star Clint Eastwood's longtime friend and directorial mentor, Don Siegel) is one hell of a cop thriller. The movie makes evocative use of its San Francisco locations as cop Harry Callahan (Eastwood) tracks the elusive "Scorpio killer" who has been terrorizing the city by the Bay. As the psychopath's trail grows hotter, Harry becomes increasingly impatient and intolerant of the frustrating obstacles (departmental red tape, individuals' civil rights) that he feels are keeping him from doing his job. A characteristically taut and tense piece of filmmaking from Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers,The Shootist,Escape from Alcatraz), it also remains a fascinating slice of American pop culture. It was a big hit (followed by four sequels) that obviously reflected--or exploited--the almost obsessive or paranoid fears and frustrations many Americans felt about crime in the streets. At a time when "law and order" was a familiar slogan for political candidates, Harry Callahan may have represented neither, but from his point of view his job was simple: stop criminals. To him that end justified any means he deemed necessary.--Jim Emerson
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Director: Don Siegel
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 1971
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
Runtime: 102 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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