ELECTRICxWIZARD’s review published on Letterboxd:
Layers of grit so thick you can feel it between your teeth. Dirty Harry Callahan is the ultimate play by their own rules cop. The lynchpin catalyst for the boom in the characterisation. Often replicated, never beaten.
Dirty Harry is the best of the Siegel/Eastwood collaborations. A hard-faced longform stand-off between a take no shit, guideline smashing cop and an unhinged madman killer and extortion artist. The two weave and collide, ignoring the ramifications of all their actions. A rivalry that is 100% mano a mano.
Harry Callahan is grizzled, nihilistic and beaten down by the death of his wife and the things he's seen and done. He has a moral code so strong he doesn't care about lines, laws and people caught in the crossfire. The film starts with him gaining a new partner, but we all know his only real partner is his .44 Magnum.
His adversary is amoral, he's vicious and he's willing and waiting to do anything. The self-dubbed Scorpio killer. Harry has seen enough scum like this that he will go to any lengths he deems necessary to stop his vitriolic tirade.
"You know, you're crazy if you think you've heard the last of this guy. He's gonna kill again."
"How do you know?"
"'Cause he likes it."
Siegel seamlessly blends police procedural, action, crime and character studies of men broken in different ways to drive home his point. A monstrously influential defining point of 70s cinema, of crime films and of characterwork. A masterful journey through the mean streets of San Francisco, sprinting and meandering through the ebbs and flows of score and tense silence.
Razor sharp dialogue cuts through the dark, crime ridden streets, as the camera captures the grime and vandlism that wraps up christian imagery. It saunters through the streets, flies through chase sequences and zooms in and out of beautiful longshots. Siegel at his absolute best.
It says so much about Eastwood that Harry is only his second most iconic character. The very definition of cool, an idol, a role model and the epitome of masculinity. Another perfect performance. His counter-part in Andrew Robinson is also phenomenal. Completely hateable, and believably unhinged, which is made all the more impressive when reading about the qualms he had performing his character's dispicable acts. A tour de force in casting prowess.
Dark, mean, cutting, not here to fuck around, but definitely here to stay, Dirty Harry blew a hole in 1971 with the magnum force of influential sudden impact. If only that line was as clever as Dirty Harry's.
"If you're a vice, I'll kill myself!"
"Well do it at home."