Movie Review: Dirty Harry

I’ve never seen any Dirty Harry movies. I think, like everyone else, I have seen the “feel lucky punk” scene- or a sendup of it, a thousand times. I happened to find the 4 piece set pretty cheap, so I figured the time was right to jump into it, and see how it holds up to a 40 year old man. Sorry, no Deadpool- but maybe I will find it somewhere. I did do the other Deadpool here though.

We start off watching a woman jump into a pool, and start swimming. A man is a building away, and shoots her. Holy Cripe! That’s one way to kick off a movie. I mean just a bit startling to start a movie off with that kind of image. Of course, it’s a weak shot, not like it blew her arm off, but still, back then movies didn’t show monster holes in people. Dirty Harry shows up to investigate, and finds a ransom note. If the City of San Francisco can’t pay 100K, then the gunman (named Scorpio) is going to shoot one person a day. This being California, the government has no money. Dirty Harry is assigned to case.

Dirty HArry BadguySoon, Callahan is trying to have a hamburger at a local cafe, and something strange about a car that is just sitting outside a bank. He tells the cook to call the police and tell them that Inspector Calahan thinks a robbery is in progress, but while he is trying to finish lunch, the criminals run from the bank, and Harry has to track them down, shooting two of them, a third is trapped but within arms reach of a shotgun. Then we get the famous scene.

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’ve kind of lost track myself. But being 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 you, punk?

I get the feeling people went back to see this movie just to count the shots. The gun is empty by the way. That night, Scorpio is after a black man, but a police helicopter sees him and prevents the shot. The next day Harry goes after a suspect but turns out to be wrong, this is here so we can see some cheap nudity, and to see that Harry has some respect for common people who protect themselves- as he gets his ass beat when a group of people think he’s a peeping tom after the aforementioned gratuitous nudity.

That night, Harry and Scorpio get into a shootout on another rooftop, but the gunman escapes. Scorpio has swapped out his rifle for a machine gun, by the way. The next day a letter arrives saying the Gunman has doubled his demand to 200K and has kidnapped a teenage girl, and is threatening to kill her. Dirty Harry has to deliver the money. Next we get the inspiration of Die Hard III.

So how is Dirty Harry?

Dirty Harry FootballHarry does a TON in this movie. He has one of the best scenes in cop movie history, he inspires Lethal Weapon and Die Hard III, and even stops a suicide. He even gets to talk smack to the mayor, and save the day. But the thing about it is, he doesn’t save everyone. Dirty Harry doesn’t make everyone safe, people do die. I think that has a lot to do with how Harry feels about the job. For a movie made in 1971, this movie does not sit around for any amount of time.

Let’s talk about Harry for a bit. They call him Dirty Harry because he gets all the dirty jobs. He’s also smart, a good shot, and observant. In short, the perfect cop. On the other hand, he is a perfect ends justify the means type of guy, the kind the common people love and the people in charge hate. I can’t see Clint Eastwood doing a lot of paperwork after a hard days work, serving justice. The main force of the movie, Scorpio, is a psychopath, who just doesn’t care, and Harry is held back by the system, and that costs innocent lives. When Harry gets to the point where he doesn’t care about the consequences completely, then he can finally defeat Scorpio. We pull for Harry, just because at some point, wild animals just have to be put down, even if a good guy has to lose himself in the process.

Dirty Harry ScorpioI’m going a 10 here, I have watched the movie 3 times in a fairly rapid turnaround for me, and I found things I have enjoyed in each watching. I can’t see any reason why this wouldn’t belong on any DVD shelf. I don’t think this one is dated, I think it holds up, and will continue to hold up in the future. I would love to sit here and nitpick, but I really can’t. I have a great villain, who isn’t developed, because he DOES NOT HAVE TO BE. Think Dark Knight’s Joker. I don’t need to know why he’s a crazy sumbitch, he just made a pencil disappear! That’s all I need! I don’t have the comic relief sidekick, because I don’t need one. This is 1971, but it’s paced like a modern movie, I just don’t have the 11 minute timer for the explosions. I get enough from the Hot Mary chase to develop Harry, without having his blowup a city block. Just a great movie, I hope the next 3 are even close.

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