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Dirty Harry

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Dirty Harry

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Reni Santoni
Director: Don Siegel
Rated: R
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: January 1971
Genres: Action, Classic, Suspense


*Also starring: Harry Guardino, John Vernon, Andy Robinson, John Larch



Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Walter Frith read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

Do you feel lucky? Well, you will be if you get the DIRTY HARRY collection being re-released on its thirtieth anniversary with all new digital transfers to some sharp looking DVDs.

(I'll end the review with the answer to a trivia question. I'll give you the question now so that you can be thinking about it. What is the name of the killer in DIRTY HARRY?)

DIRTY HARRY, the first of five in the series about Dirty Harry, a San Francisco cop who is a no-Miranda-rights kind of guy, has the classic lines about luck, which are spoken to a bank robber whom Harry has been shooting at and who is thinking about reaching for his gun. "I know what you're thinking," Harry (Clint Eastwood) says. "Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as 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 ya punk?"

A question you may be asking yourself is "How dated is DIRTY HARRY?" Surprisingly, it doesn't seem very dated, although the background documentary that accompanies the DVD is definitely vintage.

Besides Eastwood's endearing sarcasm, one of the other things that make DIRTY HARRY so good after all of these years is Bruce Surtees's stunning cinematography. It mixes impressive long shots with wide-angle close-ups that make the barrel of Harry's .44 Magnum look like a rifle. The widescreen DVD shows this off in all its glory. The best visual starts with a football field close-up at night that pulls way back until the field is enveloped in San Francisco Bay fog.

Since Harry's last partners were shot or dead, Chico (Reni Santoni) is wary of being hooked up with him. Harry, a cop who rejects rules as being too confining, doesn't feel the need to have another partner. Once Harry realizes that he's stuck with Chico, he gives him a rather unreassuring pep talk. "You'll go far," Harry tells him, "if you live."

The story in DIRTY HARRY involves a parsimonious serial killer. For the rock bottom price of only one hundred thousand dollars, he will agree not to kill a new San Francisco citizen every day. I checked, and, even taking inflation into account, this would be less than half a million in today's dollars. Sounds like a bargain. Needless to say, the money isn't paid successfully, although the mayor tries, which means that the killings continue.

The offices of the mayor, the district attorney and the police all want to abide by the legal rules in apprehending and trying the killer. Harry, on the other hand, wants to stop the criminal with whatever it takes. I had forgotten just how quiet Harry is. Although he uses his sparse dialog to maximum effect, his glares alone could kill. Like Bruce Willis in the DIE HARD series, Harry is a vulnerable hero who frequently gets mauled. Unlike today's action thrillers, the pacing of DIRTY HARRY is much slower. As moviegoers, we have become used to films operating on a high speed treadmill.

The movie offers several explanations as to how Harry came to be called Dirty Harry. Among other reasons are: his jobs are dirty, his actions are dirty and he's a dirty old man. Well, hold the word "old." Clint Eastwood may be old now, but back then he was a 40-year-old guy who looked a decade younger.

Now for your answer to the trivia question. The killer's name, as listed in the credits, is simply "Killer." DIRTY HARRY is a straightforward cop thriller, which doesn't need or bother to take the time to give the punk a name.

DIRTY HARRY runs 1:42. It is rated R for violence, nudity and some language and would be acceptable for teenagers.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, who had never seen a Dirty Harry picture before, gave this one ***. He liked it and compared it to his favorite series, James Bond.

The movie is available on DVD and video tape.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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