Film Review: Dirty Harry (1971)

Rating: X/15
Length: 1hr 43
Release: 30.3.1972
Dir: Don Siegel
About: In the year 1971, a police detective ignores the orders of his superiors and gambles with innocent lives to capture a sniper terrorizing San Francisco.

The Good

  • Hate to go all ‘film student’ on you, but there’s some amazing visuals in this. Just after half way through the film, Harry (Clint Eastwood) is asked to ‘put your nose right up against the cement’. The visuals then turn into a POV shot as Harry looks up at the cross monument. It’s not something you see anymore in film and its quite disarming.
  • Andy Robinson is the definition of scary playing the man only ever identified as ‘Killer’ or Scorpio. From the manical laugh to the lengths he’ll go to frame Harry as a rotten apple within the police. He’ll give you nightmares and have you fearing nearly everyone. But that’s the thing, he is so brilliant at being scary.
  • Thrilling without being loud and fast, or a dull slow burn. The sort of story presented in Dirty Harry would be filmed in one of those two ways if it was made today. I loved this middle ground pacing.

The Bad

  • Outdated comments presented should not be removed, as censoring the past gets us nowhere. However, it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
  • Music is very DISCO! It’s hard to say if it fits the film or not, given that its reflective of the time. However, I’m not certain it matches the tone of the film at all times.

The Ugly

  • I’m not sure how I feel about the reveal of the body at the end. I’m pretty certain they wouldn’t have used an underage actress to be lifted out of the location completely naked, however the actress who is playing the discovered body is playing a 14 year old girl and I found the whole thing gratuitous.

Final Thoughts

I don’t know how I’d not seen this movie before now. It’s incredible from start to finish and one of the best thrillers I’ve ever seen.

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