Dirty Harry is the iconic film that reinvented the career of Clint Eastwood, having mostly been known for his Westerns up until then. Modestly directed by Don Siegel, this film became a genre benchmark, and of course spawned a number of sequels and a host of imitators. This is yet another of those films that as silly as it sounds to say, you’ve either seen it or you haven’t; most will probably have seen it, and those that haven’t probably should.
One thing the film does do a lot of is location shooting, and I don’t just mean shooting on location. This film loves its location shots; it packs so many of them into the film with such iconic imagery that it will stamp itself into your brain. The film is very strobe-like in its color saturation, which was indicative of the times during when the film was shot. Eastwood does a good job playing a no-nonsense tough guy cop who throws out the rulebook every chance he gets, but after a while it becomes very one-note of him. The man who plays the main antagonist Scorpio chooses a very campy style of acting, and thus the villain isn’t really all that villainous as a result. One can tell that the fault of this is not with the film’s script, which I would wager was imagined with the killer being much more ruthless and cold-blooded than the film makes him out to be. The ending shootout between the two isn’t very tense or thrilling either, mostly due to the lack of setup and suspense and the characterization of Scorpio.
This is a weird film for me to watch, because as I did, I kept returning to the script behind it all and how different the film would’ve been had it followed the screenwriter’s intentions to the letter. This is a film that is hijacked by its main players both in front of and behind the camera, and to me it showed glaringly. Not to say that it’s a bad film, by no means is it; it’s still a wonderful example of the revitalized cop genre of films (really the film itself is largely responsible for the revitalization). But each aspect of the film is relatively one-sided, from the characters to the story turns to the production itself. It’s still pretty entertaining, though, so I can’t be displeased with it.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10