Dirty Harry ★★★★½

Geoff T's Dirty Harry Marathon #1
Dirty Harry (1971)

I have a soft spot for this one, mostly because it's one of the first R/18-rated movies I saw. Dirty Harry still continues to be a personal favourite of mine in Clint Eastwood's filmography and of 70s films in general.

Eastwood is Detective Harry Callahan, a hard-edged SFPD police detective who plays by his own rules, dealing out justice to street trash with his 44 Magnum pistol. When a serial killer begins to terrorize the streets of San Francisco in exchange for ransom money from the city's government, Harry along with his new partner Chico Gonzalez is given the dirty job (hence his name) of snuffing him out and putting an end to his tyranny.

Eastwood's performance establishes Harry as an iconic action hero with his hatred towards criminals and politically-incorrect views and ethics regarding justice and treatment of suspects. He methods of doing things are not motivated by bigotry, but simply just wanting to keep the streets safe any way he can. The killer (named 'Scorpio') on the other hand is a psychopathic individual who gets a good thrill out of killing people (usually sniping them from city rooftops), with Andy Robinson's deranged performance making him a scary and memorable antagonist.

Lalo Schifrin does the film's music in the form of an upbeat electric-rock, jazz-funk score that is very suited to the San Francisco setting and it's seedy underworld. The direction on the other hand is generally fast-paced and well-handled by the late great Don Siegel, who would go on to do more collaborations with Eastwood over the years.

Dirty Harry overall is a simply plotted but gritty, quotable and thoroughly intense police-thriller with great music, action and characters. While does show it's age, is easily one of the best of it's time. Sequels would follow, each with varying quality. This one in my view however stands as the best in the series.


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