I thought the story would be about a rogue cop. Boy, was I wrong. Dirty Harry, released in 1971 and directed by Don Siegel, stars Clint Eastwood and Andrew Robinson as the main characters.
In the 1070s, San Francisco is under terror as a maniac who calls himself Scorpio sniped at random victims and requires ransom money. Inspector Harry Callahan (nicknamed Dirty Harry) is assigned to the case.
The plot is straightforward and requires no thinking whatsoever. It’s the performances that make this movie unforgettable. Andrew Robinson as Scorpio is the perfect psycho, sadistic and frightening, the kind of person you certainly would not want to meet. My view is that his character is inspired by the Zodiac Killer, who operated in California in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Clint Eastwood is more than perfect as Harry, who'll take any job that comes along in order to restore peace and lock up the criminals. Dirty Harry is a cop with the type of charisma you rarely see, who pulls no punches and is proud of that. Clint Eastwood set a standard with his exceptional macho portrayal of Harry.
No elaborate camera angles, no special effects, no sunshine, no flowers, only dark. Everything is sordid and there is no humor or romance. The locations where the scenes are played are chilling, and the final scene is amazing. There are also so many classic lines in this movie it is hard to keep track. My favourite line of the movie (and a perfect summary of Harry’s character):
Harry Callahan: I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
Clint Eastwood creates one of the most memorable characters in cinema history, he just oozes cool.
Bottom line, Dirty Harry is an absolute must.
But why do they call him Dirty Harry, might you wonder?
Harry Callahan: Now you know why they call me Dirty Harry: every dirty job that comes along.