Friday, December 10, 2010

Dirty Harry Review

Genre: Action
Directed by: Don Siegel
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson, Harry Guardino
Release Date: December 23, 1971

The Plot

Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood), aka “Dirty Harry,” is a San Francisco policeman who always ends up getting stuck with the jobs no one else wants.  When a madman who calls himself Scorpio (Andrew Robinson) goes on a killing spree, Harry is ordered to stop him.  Harry decides that his superiors are using the wrong strategies to try to capture the killer, however, so he decides to stop the killer using his own methods. 

What’s Good

  • Dirty Harry features frequent suspenseful sequences culminating in brief fighting sequences.  This formula was fairly effective in maintaining my interest.
  • Harry is likable in that he is willing to risk his job as a policeman to see that the killer is brought to justice.  His rude manner and nontraditional methods of accomplishing his police work contrast with his inner goodness.  The complexity of Harry's character makes him memorable.
  • Andrew Robinson plays a very convincing madman.  Scorpio's inhuman cruelty and ultimate cowardice make him a fascinating character to watch.
  • The end of the film is both exciting and affecting.

What’s Not

  • Dirty Harry is a dirty film.  I did not appreciate the pornographic segments.
  • Some of the film occurs at night in poorly lit sections of the city.  The director may have used poor lighting to build suspense, making the viewer feel as if the madman could be lurking in any one of numerous shadows.  However, I found the poor lighting annoying rather than unnerving.
  • The first half of the film was rather slow-paced. 

The Drum Roll Please . . .

Dirty Harry invites the viewer to ponder whether it is morally acceptable to take justice into one’s own hands when the authorities are not properly handling a situation.  This thought-provoking question provides an excellent premise for the film.  In addition, Harry’s character is memorable, and the villain is shockingly evil.  I just wish the obscene elements of the movie had been omitted.

7 out of 10

1 comment:

  1. Dirty Harry is such a classic. And Clint Eastwood is still kicking - Have you seen any of his most recent movies? Gran Torino is really good, he not only acted in the movie he also directed it.