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
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
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
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
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,
The movie is available on DVD and video tape.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes