Length: 103 minutes / 1.72 hours
What makes an iconic film? Is it something that has memorable moments and catch phrases? Is it something that stands up against the test of time? Is it something that resonates with us on a deeper level? Whatever it is, I feel Dirty Harry (1971) is certainly an iconic film. Let’s take a look at why this is the case.
First off, there’s the famous monologue about counting. “Do you feel lucky?” completes a tense moment that merely started with a detective’s intuition that something was about to go down. But what make this early scene that much greater is the bookend it creates with the film’s antagonist, Scorpio (Andy Robinson). This isn’t even the only bookend this film has to offer, as the two deaths at either end of the movie end up being submerged in water. Secondly, while the 1970’s seem quite different to our modern styles, something about the culture of the time (especially in San Francisco) really works to offset the “dirty” detective who will do whatever it takes to get his man, even if it means breaking the rules.
Finally, the whole “cat and mouse” between Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) and Scorpio really drives the film. Sure, there are a few moments interspersed where we see that Harry is still a good cop who cares for the people of San Francisco, despite his harsh exterior, but the game Scorpio has Detective Callahan play (the most intense of which involves getting from one phone booth to another in a limited amount of time) ratchets up the intensity with each “move” they make. Overall, these two characters really make Dirty Harry the fantastic film it is.
A great movie that utilizes all of Clint Eastwood’s squinty-eyed, teeth-gritting performance, I give Dirty Harry 5.0 stars out of 5.