Review of Dirty Harry (1971)

4 Dec

Dirty Harry (1971) is a crime/thriller/action film that cemented Clint Eastwood’s image as an icon even more, this time putting him in the role of Harry Callahan, who, as the title implies, does the dirty work.

Directed by Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Escape from Alcatraz (1979)), who has worked with Eastwood on several instances.

Written by Harry Julian Fink (Major Dundee (1965), Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973)), Rita M. Fink (Big Jake (1971), Magnum Force (1973)), Dean Riesner (The Enforcer (1976), Play Misty for Me (1971)) . Julius Mills and Terrence Malick did uncredited work on the script.

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson, John Vernon, Reni Santoni, John Mitchum and others.

If you don’t think Clint Eastwood is one of the coolest people who have ever lived, then I’m sorry, but you are either an idiot or not human. The fact that he’s so old and might die any day really makes me feel uneasy. And the Dirty Harry franchise has played a big part in establishing his iconic image in the pop-culture. If you open a dictionary and find “anti-hero” next to it is just a picture of Clint Eastwood.

And there’s many cool things to like in this film. Harry Callahan, the now archetypical cop that doesn’t play by the rules, Harry’s ridiculously large revolver, the amazingly bad-ass lines like “You’ve gotta ask yourself a question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?”, Eastwood’s face, the lunatic villain, Harry jumping on a school bus.

Speaking of the villain this is one of the best parts of the movie, because somehow this totally over-the-top performance by Andrew Robinson as the serial killer Scorpio works. But only by portraying him as this insane maniac, scenes like when he pays someone to beat him up work.

Plot-wise it really is a simple movie. When they catch the serial killer about halfway in, you know he’s going to somehow get out for everyone to realise the error of their ways. And at that point the movie really goes out of its ways to force the message by making the legal system way too liberal in handling this despicable criminal. By doing this they seem to make almost a fascistic stance, praising the idea of vigilantism and criticising the liberalism of the legislation system.

But talking about this aspect of the movie is, if not reading too deep, then at the very least an unnecessary thing to do, because in the end it works best as just an entertaining action movie and not a serious social commentary. Of course you can dislike its ham-fisted approach, but honestly, do you expect subtlety from this type of film?

Overall it is a good, solid movie about a cop who does the dirty work, because there’s no one else who will, and is carried by bad-ass one liner, Robinson’s overacting and Eastwood’s permanent scowl. Definitely recommended.

.44 Magnum, the gun that was made to be seen in 3D.

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