Socially and politically speaking now is probably not the right time to review a movie like Dirty Harry, a movie I have loved since I was really too young to be watching it to begin with. There is an argument made by some that some of the current rash of police violence can be blamed on movies like Dirty Harry because today’s policemen in many cases grew up on them.
The thing is, Dirty Harry was never supposed to be a role model. He was a statement, a generational response to the urban violence of that era, which was even controversial and lauded as “fascist” way back in 1971. However, movies are products of mindsets, not the other way around.
Today the pendulum has swung in the other direction, but that is neither here nor there in regards to this review, so now let me get on to the damn movie.
Clint Eastwood is the only person who could have played this character. I wince at the thought of the original choice of Frank Sinatra, nothing against him as an actor, but the lines, “Do ya feel lucky Punk?” coming from him seem way more cutesy and playful than menacing.
This first Dirty Harry movie is unquestionably the best in the series. Harry Callahan spends the majority of this movie chasing a sniper serial killer known as Scorpio (a clear Zodiac rippoff) and occasionally is interrupted by other hoodlums whom he promptly blows away with his classic Smith & Wesson Model 28 .44 Magnum revolver.
In the meantime Callahan grunts about red tape and other politically incorrect things that piss him off. He routinely ignores the “rights” of the killer he stalks and incurs all of the cliché dressing downs from the police chief/mayor that have been parodied so many times now.
In real life, cops like Dirty Harry are a huge problem. In movies, cops like Dirty Harry are hugely entertaining. If you can make that separation, there should be no issue in enjoying this film.
Dirty Harry gets a four out of five: GREAT.