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  • Dirty Harry
    • Dirty Harry
    • Runtime:102 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-18 00:50:09
    • Director: Don Siegel
    • Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller
    • Studio:


Viewed almost four decades after its making 'Dirty Harry' looks a
little bit like an aged action film, but it raises issues that are
actual until today. The story of SF Police detective Harry Callahan
specialized in the dirty jobs that nobody wants to undertake, facing a
system of laws and rules which seems to favor the bad guys and not the
law enforcers looks for the viewer today quite 'deja vu'. We also have
seen many times the junior policeman partner becoming a key help and
element in the action, and even the car scenes on San Francisco's
streets. The psycho serial killer, the weak politicians ready to give
up to blackmail in order to win some moments of apparent peace, all
look familiar. The merit of director Siegel's film is that in 1971 he
was the first to bring together all these themes and characters in one
coherent and well told story, without many convolutions or

Clint Eastwood gives up here the Wild West poncho and replaces it with
the elegant jacket of the 20th century policeman, but brings here from
the previous films the calm, the art of handling guns and the scarcity
of words which when infringed leaves room for many memorable phrases.
Eastwood's character faces dilemmas similar to the one that '24''s Jack
Bauer will face more than three decades later. When human lives are in
balance are officers of law allowed to break rules and take the law in
their hands? When the judicial system is unable to defend the victims
and punish the guilty can one man take the responsibility of playing
the judge and the executor? (with no less than a punishment but the
deserved capital one). It's easier to answer such questions in movies
than in real life. 'Dirty Harry' and many other films that followed
gave to such question simplistic and problematic answers. As they say -
'do not try this at home'. At the end of the day this is still
entertainment, reality is more complex.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

San Francisco detective Harry Callahan is assigned the case of a
psychopath who uses a 30-06 rifle with a silencer to shoot people from
rooftops, leaving letters under the alias of Scorpio, demanding 200,000
dollars or else he will continue to kill. He will realize all too well
that this case is anything but easy, Harry and his newly acquired
partner(against his will of course), Chico Gonzalez(Reni Santoni)having
to scour all the seedy and darkened streets for Scorpio(Andrew
Robinson, as vile and heinous as they come).

The reason explained in this film for Callahan's nickname is that he
gets saddled with every B.S. job that comes his way, whether it's
halting a suicidal jumper from leaping off a building or interrupting a
robbery in progress while trying to eat his hot dog.

There are instances where Callahan and the police come close to
catching Scorpio, but he proves to be quite elusive. Such as when
helicopters find him on a rooftop about to shoot a black man on a park
bench, or when Callahan and Chico intrude upon his preparation to
target a priest. Callahan gets his first close encounter with Scorpio
during a money exchange with a girl's life hanging in the
balance(Callahan tells his superiors that the girl is probably already
dead). This girl was kidnapped, her tooth pulled and sent(along with
her red bra)to the Mayor as confirmation. Scorpio sends Callahan on a
wild goose chase throughout San Francisco and he must answer each
telephone or else the girl dies. When he does finally meet Scorpio he
receives a beating, two broken ribs but stabs the bastard in the leg.
That wound will help Callahan in his further pursuit of Scorpio.

Here is where people are divided:Callahan has to break some rules in
order to get information out of Scorpio, by pressing down on a
wound(after shooting him in the ear)he caused with a knife out of
self-defense, to find out the girl's whereabouts. No Miranda or search
warrant to get into Scorpio's residence in order to retrieve the rifle
which is the weapon used to kill. The quandary Callahan was facing:the
girl had, according to the suspect warning of Scorpio, only so much
time before she would suffocate(he told the police that she was buried
alive, which turns out to be a tragic lie). If he obeyed the rules, she
would've been dead(he didn't know sure, definite, that Scorpio had
indeed killed her already so he had to assume she was alive)and perhaps
Scorpio would've gotten away without entering his abode without a

There is indeed a scene where the district attorney chews Harry out for
not following the rules and he seems justified in his actions in
regards to the girl's life, but no evidence attained due to the lack of
a search warrant, and the confession of her location were inadmissible.
Ultimately, you either side with the laws that are written or care
about why a cop was willing to break them in order to attempt to save a
girl's life.

These kinds of moments are what provide much debate and polarize a
particular group. Every person has rights in this great country, but
what about those victims who are denied their own? Anyway, DIRTY HARRY
had a model so many others wanted to duplicate(and the other films in
the series failed to in their own right), the detective who goes one
step beyond the line of duty and is willing to toss his star away if it
means ridding the streets of a nutcase with a rifle.

Like the great scene with John Vernon's Mayor when he questions Harry's
methods in Fillmore, Callahan is as open and honest as he has always
been:"When a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a
butcher's knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn't out collecting for the
Red Cross!"

Don Siegel and his cinematographer Bruce Surtees(who Eastwood used as
well when he started directing)capture the city very well, and we seem
to follow Eastwood into a lot of places in search of a real
terror/threat. Scorpio's commandeering of a school bus, with some kids
and a frightened driver inside, is sweat-inducing stuff, but he gets
his comeuppance in grand style.

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