The Urban Cleanser
Robert Morris | Dallas, Texas | 10/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the first of five "Dirty Harry" films in which Eastwood stars as a San Francisco police detective. By the time the last appeared (The Dead Pool, in 1988), Eastwood had aged and times had changed but Callahan's values and methods remained essentially the same. When initially released, Dirty Harry was immediately controversial as was Death Wish (1974). Audiences tended to be divided between those who were offended by what they considered to be excessive violence and those who (like Harry Callahan and Paul Kersey) had lost confidence in society's willingness and/or ability to respond effectively to violent crime. After seeing each of the two films for the first time, I vividly recall joining those around me in the theatre as they rose and cheered...and continue to applaud for several minutes. I asked myself, "What's going on here? What's this all about?" At least in the larger U.S. cities 30 years ago, residents had become totally fed up with traditional law enforcement initiatives. It was no longer safe to walk the streets at night. Even more dangerous to do so in public parks. Homes were robbed while people worked during the day. Many of the same homes were robbed again later after insurance coverage replaced the articles previously stolen. Racial animosities, drug abuse, and a widespread contempt for institutional authority all contributed to such problems. Under Don Siegel's crisp direction, Eastwood and his associates in the cast bring R.M. Fink's screenplay to life (and yes, to death) as they focus on what is obviously an irreconcilable conflict between Callahan and his superiors who include the mayor of San Francisco. Callahan's motto seems to be "Whatever it takes." In some situations, it may take his 44 Magnum, "the most powerful handgun in the world." Callahan has not totally lost faith in his society nor in the importance of the legal system. However, he does feel betrayed. The mayor and even Lieutenant Bressler (Harry Guardino) just don't "get it." This is precisely the same point Jim Malone (Sean Connery) makes to Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) in The Untouchables 26 years later: When orthodox ("by the book") crime-fighting strategies and tactics don't succeed, use others even if they are not (at least technically) legal. Countless other films (such as Magnum Force, The French Connection, and L.A. Confidential) also make the same point.It is important to remember when seeing this film again, as I did recently, that it portrays elements of an urban society few of us ever experience. Also, that it is a drama, not a documentary. Its primary purpose is to tell a story. The plot focuses on a serial killer named "Scorpio" (Andy Robinson) whom Callahan is determined to eliminate. Even when he eventually does so, questions remain. Don't criminals also have rights? What would happen if all or most other detectives followed Callahan's example? To what extent (if any) should private citizens also be actively involved in law enforcement? I agree with several critics who claim that, with Dirty Harry, Siegel and Eastwood created a new film genre. Its influence proved to be substantial. Each viewer must decide for herself or himself how much social relevance it has retained after 32 years but almost everyone would agree that it has lost little of its entertainment value."
A great film finally gets the DVD release it deserves
A Customer | 06/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Dirty Harry is directed by Don Siegel. The film stars Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, John Larch, Andy Robinson, Rene Santoni, and John Vernon. It's the first of five films in the Dirty Harry series. The movie was originally released in 1971, and this is the third DVD release of the film.
A deadly sniper calling himself "Scorpio" has committed a murder in San Francisco, and essentially now holds the city hostage, swearing to kill again unless a hefty ransom is paid. A tough-as-nails police inspector, Harry Callahan, hunts down and apprehends the villain - only to have him released on legal technicalities, despite the murders he has committed. This infuriates Callahan, who knows the villain will strike again - and he's determined to stop him by any means necessary.
Dirty Harry is a classic, no doubt about it. Clint Eastwood had proven time and time again he was a genius when it came to acting in Westerns, and this is the movie that showed the world he could fare equally well in a latter-day action setting. In many ways this is the role that defined his career - so much so that it spawned four sequels spanning a decade and a half. The political themes of the film are still relevant and hotly debated today, which only adds to the experience. Regardless of your taste in movies, Dirty Harry is a film you must see at least once before you die.
As far as the image/sound quality goes, Warner Bros. has "gone ahead and made my day" with these new transfers for the series.
This is it - the best the Dirty Harry series has EVER looked on home video. Warner has given the film the mastering it has so desperately needed for so long, and the results show through and through. It's been nearly four decades since the film hit theaters, so I'm amazed at how much they were able to do with the image. This transfer has to be seen in action to be appreciated.
The sound quality holds up just as well as the image. Be it dialogue, the unique musical scoring from the always-brilliant Lalo Schifrin, or the gunshots from Harry's 44, everything just sounds great. Like the visual transfer, the audio also needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
Warner Bros. has released Dirty Harry 3 times on DVD. The first release was a very bare-bones release with no bonus material. The second had a few minor featurettes but was still fairly limited in terms of what it offered - both earlier releases were single disc. Whoever was in charge of this latest reissue must have asked themselves, "do I feel lucky?"
Well, I guess they DID feel lucky. This is a two-disc set LOADED with special features. Every earlier release of Dirty Harry on DVD has been a disappointment, but the third time really is the charm for Dirty Harry on DVD. Here's a look at what you'll be getting in this set:
-Commentary with Richard Schickel: Schickel is a Clint Eastwood biographer who is no stranger to the man's work. And he serves up a great commentary here. He goes beyond Eastwood, and even discusses director Don Siegel, as well as what kind of a movie he was trying to make, and how he worked with the film's star. And perhaps most importantly, Schickel isn't above kicking back and enjoying the movie once in a while. I wanted commentary with Clint Eastwood himself (as I'm sure many fans did), but this is, unquestionably, the next best thing.
-"Dirty Harry: The Original" featurette: This featurette runs for half an hour and is hosted by Robert Urich. A number of people around San Francisco (where the movie was filmed and based) are interviewed throughout its duration. While it's not too in-depth (you probably won't learn anything new here if you're a Dirty Harry maniac), it's still a fun extra to watch if you're a fan.
-"Dirty Harry's Way": Despite its under-10-minute length, this was one of my favorite bonus features in the set. It's a vintage promo piece, shot back when the movie was filming. You get to see a young Eastwood and Siegel doing what they do best, on both sides of the camera.
-Interview Gallery: Essentially, this is half an hour of snippets from various interviews recorded over the years, that are in some way or another related to the film or Eastwood himself. It's always interesting to hear what the various interviewees have to say about the film and/or its star, which will make this featurette all the more appealing to fans of the series
-Trailer Gallery: Trailers for all five Dirty Harry films. Enough said.
-The Long Shadow of Dirty Harry: This is a brand new featurette recorded just for this release. This is various discussions about the character, the film, the star, and more. Running at around half an hour, it's a great featurette no Dirty Harry fan should overlook.
-Clint Eastwood: The Man from Malpaso: The final featurette on this disc runs an hour, and goes beyond Dirty Harry. Instead it focuses on Eastwood himself, from birth to the then-present (this featurette came out in the early 90s, so it only covers up to around the time Unforgiven was released.) Fans of Clint Eastwood will love this featurette. Chances are if you're a fan, you may have seen the special back when it first aired on TV.
Finally, Dirty Harry gets a worthy DVD release. Great picture quality and a ton of great bonus features top off what is truly a classic film. If you're a fan of the film, even if you already bought one of the earlier DVD releases, GET THIS VERSION. It's that much of an improvement."
THE HOUR OF THE .44 MAGNUM.
Gregory Saffady | Michigan | 01/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Smith & Wesson should pay Clint a royalty everytime a Model 29 is sold. While DIRTY HARRY is truely the hour of the .44 Magnum, the film is one of Hollywood's greatest thrillers and it birthed a character to be emulated but never equaled. DIRTY HARRY is a film of incredible suspense, with Donald Siegel's direction becoming a benchmark for the genre. The movie's legacy is well documented: Sinatra, McQueen, Newman and The Duke, turned it down. History has proved them correct. Without Clint, this one becomes a late show fill in run to the point of adnauseum. Instead it's a timeless classic with every element flawless. Harry Guardino is his usual steady self as Lt. Al Bressler and Reni Santori does a great turn as Chico Gonzalez, Harry's ill fated partner. The Bruce Surtees photograhy is stunning."
The finest film of the genre
Hinkle Goldfarb | R.R. 1 Highway 162, Butte City, California | 09/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't think of a film before "Dirty Harry" that had the theme of "the maverick cop willing to bend a few rules and break a few constitutional rights to save the day." But there were plenty of them after, including the sequels to Dirty Harry itself. There was even a left-liberal backlash, in movies such as "The Star Chamber."
And Dirty Harry is even better when weighed against the zeitgeist of the early 70s. Considering that bleeding-heart liberalism was in its ascendency and maybe even at its peak, the storyline, generous violence, bashing of criminals and civil rights alike, and indifferent attitude towards racial slurs and racial stereotypes, marks it as a high point of counter-counter-culture. Even John Wayne took note of Dirty Harry's success, and created the lesser, but still eminently watchable, "McQ" in response. Like "Forrest Gump" 23 years later, Dirty Harry proved that immortality, and a lot of money, awaits for the Hollywood producer, director, writer or star who is willing to buck the ingrained, inbred, left-wing Hollywood herd."