Dirty Harry (1971)

R | 101-103 mins | Drama | 1971

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HISTORY

The working title of the film was Dead Right . News items in Apr, Sep and Nov 1970 confirm that Frank Sinatra was originally to star in the film, which was to be produced and directed by Irvin Kershner, with Arthur Jacobson acting as associate producer. According to a 16 Nov 1970 Warner Bros. press release, Sinatra had to withdraw from the film because of complications following recent surgery on his hand. Some modern sources have stated that John Wayne then was approached to portray "Harry 'Dirty Harry' Callahan," but a 17 Dec 1970 studio press release announced that Clint Eastwood would star in, as well as produce the film through his The Malpaso Company.
       Although the film is fictional, the random killings, communications with the police in disjointed letters and ransom demand of the film's killer, "Scorpio," were inspired by late 1960s-early 1970s murders committed by the real-life Bay Area killer known as "The Zodiac." For information on the Zodiac and other films based on, or inspired by murders he committed, please consult the entry below for the 1971 film The Zodiac Killer . Dirty Harry was shot almost entirely on location in San Francisco, with many of the city's familiar landmarks seen from street level as well as aerial shots. Bay Area locations included, among others, the North Beach and Tenderloin districts, City Hall, Mt. Davidson, the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, old Kezar Stadium, the Forest Hills BART station and Golden Gate Park. The film's climax was shot in Larkspur, near Richmond, just north of San Francisco. The trestle bridge featured ... More Less

The working title of the film was Dead Right . News items in Apr, Sep and Nov 1970 confirm that Frank Sinatra was originally to star in the film, which was to be produced and directed by Irvin Kershner, with Arthur Jacobson acting as associate producer. According to a 16 Nov 1970 Warner Bros. press release, Sinatra had to withdraw from the film because of complications following recent surgery on his hand. Some modern sources have stated that John Wayne then was approached to portray "Harry 'Dirty Harry' Callahan," but a 17 Dec 1970 studio press release announced that Clint Eastwood would star in, as well as produce the film through his The Malpaso Company.
       Although the film is fictional, the random killings, communications with the police in disjointed letters and ransom demand of the film's killer, "Scorpio," were inspired by late 1960s-early 1970s murders committed by the real-life Bay Area killer known as "The Zodiac." For information on the Zodiac and other films based on, or inspired by murders he committed, please consult the entry below for the 1971 film The Zodiac Killer . Dirty Harry was shot almost entirely on location in San Francisco, with many of the city's familiar landmarks seen from street level as well as aerial shots. Bay Area locations included, among others, the North Beach and Tenderloin districts, City Hall, Mt. Davidson, the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, old Kezar Stadium, the Forest Hills BART station and Golden Gate Park. The film's climax was shot in Larkspur, near Richmond, just north of San Francisco. The trestle bridge featured in the sequence was torn down in 2003. According to an article in Life , Eastwood directed the suicide sequence when director Don Siegel was ill with the flu.
       The one sequence that was not shot on location was the diner/bank robbery sequence, which was filmed on the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles. In the sequence, which was unrelated to the film's main storyline, Harry, who is suspicious of a car slowly circling the street on which his favorite diner is located, asks the diner owner to call in a bank robbery in progress report to the police. Before they arrive, Harry goes out to the street and enters into a gun battle with the bank robbers, causing chaos and several car crashes. At the end of the gun battle, one of the robbers (actor Albert Popwell), who is lying on the ground wounded, is about to reach for his gun when Eastwood delivers a short speech that often has been included in documentaries on films of the 1970s and Eastwood’s career. Beginning with "Ah, ah, I know what you're thinkin'" and ending with the words "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do ya, punk?" That final line, which subsequent to the film's release became a popular and iconic catchphrase, was ranked 51st on AFI's list of the 100 greatest movie quotes. The same speech is repeated at the end of the film, when Harry confronts Scorpio outside the rock quarry.
       The gun that Harry uses in the film is a .44 Magnum, a large gun that is commented upon throughout the story and was featured prominently in the film’s key art. A running question throughout the picture is why Harry is called "Dirty Harry," with several characters offering their own theories. Although the reasons vary, Harry, and later "Chico Gonzalez," concludes that he is called that because he is given every "dirty job" in the police department. In the bank robbery sequence, a movie theater marquee that is visible in the background is advertising Play Misty for Me , the 1971 Eastwood film that marked his directorial debut (see below). Actor Andy Robinson, who portrayed Scorpio, made his motion picture debut in Dirty Harry . Actor Kristoffer Tabori, who had a bit role as a "Hippy Guy," was director Siegel's son. Some modern sources have also included Siegel in the cast in a bit role as a man running in an alley.
       While the film was a huge hit at the box office, and received significant praise from some critics, others, such as the HR reviewer, strongly objected to the film's violence, comparing the film's MPAA R rating with X ratings given [and subsequently changed following editorial revisions] to two previously released 1971 films, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and Ken Russell's The Devils (see above), stating "if parents are to be allowed to take their children (who may be 15 and 16, for example) to see this picture, but they will not be allowed to take them to see Stanley Kubrick's new film, then that is a disgrace."
       Many reviewers found Harry's persona and tactics strikingly opposed to the softer male heroes that had recently been popular onscreen. Prominent New Yorker critic Pauline Kael called the film "a right-wing fantasy," and labeled it "fascist medievalism" in a 1972 review that became so controversial and influential that it was reprinted in one of her collections and has been discussed in many modern sources. When Kael died in 1991, her Dirty Harry review was one of a handful mentioned in obituaries as hallmarks of her work.
       Dirty Harry , along with Play Misty for Me and Beguiled , which were also released in 1971 (see above and below), marked a turning point in Eastwood's career, establishing him as a top echelon box-office star. According to modern biographies of Eastwood, his positive experience with Warner Bros. and executive producer Robert Daley was instrumental in his decision to move The Malpaso Company headquarters from the Universal lot to Warner Bros., where it has remained for almost years.
       Dirty Harry brought in over $16,000,000 in domestic film rentals and was the fifth highest-grossing film of 1972, when it was in wide release. According to an Aug 1973 Var news item, in India, an injunction was brought against the producers of the Hindi film Khoon Khoon for copyright infringement of Dirty Harry , stating that the Hindi film too closely followed the American film. Four additional "Dirty Harry" films were made, all of which starred Eastwood as Harry: Magnum Force (1973, directed by Ted Post), The Enforcer (1976, directed by James Fargo), Sudden Impact (1983, directed by Eastwood) and The Dead Pool (1988, directed by Buddy Van Horn).
       Because a 1972 Ford Gran Torino was driven by Eastwood in Dirty Harry , when pre-production was announced for his 2008 film Gran Torino , rumors surfaced on internet sites that it was to be the final installment of the series. Although the same car was a major plot point in the 2008 film, Gran Torino was otherwise unrelated to the Dirty Harry series.
       In early 2005, an announcement was made in trade publications that Eastwood would partner with Warner Bros.' videogame division, Interactive Entertainment, to produce a new game based on the Dirty Harry character and would lend his likeness and voice to the game for the new PlayStation3 and XBox 360 game systems. Although on 11 May 2006, it was reported that actors Gene Hackman and Laurence Fishburne would also lend their voices and likenesses to the game, Warner Bros. cancelled the project in 2007 and, as of 2009, the game had not been released. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Dec 1971.
---
Box Office
10 Jan 1972.
---
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1970.
---
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1971.
---
Daily Variety
24 Feb 2005
p. 1, 22.
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 525-28.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1971
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 1971
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1971
p. 3, 9.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 2006.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
22 Dec 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Aug 2003.
---
New York Times
21 May 1971
Section II, p. 15.
New York Times
23 Dec 1971
p. 20.
New Yorker
15 Jan 1972
pp. 78-81.
Newsweek
10 Jan 1972
p. 59.
Saturday Review
29 Jan 1972
p. 23.
Time
3 Jan 1972
p. 66.
Variety
2 Sep 1970.
---
Variety
22 Dec 1971
p. 6.
Variety
15 Aug 1973.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Maxwell Gail Jr.
Vincent P. Deadrick
Charles Hicks
Voices:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Fill-In dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Supv hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Unit prod mgr
Dial supv
Unit pub
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Title:
Dead Right
Release Date:
1971
Premiere Information:
World premiere in San Francisco, CA: 21 December 1971
New York and Los Angeles openings: 22 December 1971
Production Date:
20 April--mid June 1971 in San Francisco, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros., Inc. & The Malpaso Company
Copyright Date:
22 December 1971
Copyright Number:
LP41628
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
101-103
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In San Francisco, while police inspector Harry Callahan, called "Dirty Harry" by his colleagues, is at the crime scene of a young woman shot to death in a rooftop swimming pool, he notices a nearby high-rise building that has an unobstructed view of the roof. Climbing to the top of the other building, Harry finds a shell casing for a 30-06 high-powered rifle, then sees a handwritten note attached to an aerial. The note, which is addressed "to the city of San Francisco" and signed "Scorpio," demands $100,000 or Scorpio will kill one person each day, starting with a Catholic priest or a black person. The mayor decides to pay the ransom, over the objections of Harry, his boss, Lt. Bressler, and the chief of police, and instructs them to do what Scorpio has demanded, respond with a personal ad placed in The San Francisco Chronicle . The mayor then instructs them to add that it will take some time to get the money, hoping to give the police more time to find Scorpio. After the ad appears, Scorpio goes onto a rooftop in the North Beach area looking for a victim. While he is setting his rifle sight on a gay black man, a police helicopter crew spots him and, using a loud speaker, orders him to desist, but Scorpio quickly packs up and escapes. That night, Harry and his temporary partner, Chico Gonzalez, a college graduate who majored in sociology and is the antithesis of Harry, are driving through the Tenderloin District when Chico sees a man carrying a tan suitcase that looks like one ... +


In San Francisco, while police inspector Harry Callahan, called "Dirty Harry" by his colleagues, is at the crime scene of a young woman shot to death in a rooftop swimming pool, he notices a nearby high-rise building that has an unobstructed view of the roof. Climbing to the top of the other building, Harry finds a shell casing for a 30-06 high-powered rifle, then sees a handwritten note attached to an aerial. The note, which is addressed "to the city of San Francisco" and signed "Scorpio," demands $100,000 or Scorpio will kill one person each day, starting with a Catholic priest or a black person. The mayor decides to pay the ransom, over the objections of Harry, his boss, Lt. Bressler, and the chief of police, and instructs them to do what Scorpio has demanded, respond with a personal ad placed in The San Francisco Chronicle . The mayor then instructs them to add that it will take some time to get the money, hoping to give the police more time to find Scorpio. After the ad appears, Scorpio goes onto a rooftop in the North Beach area looking for a victim. While he is setting his rifle sight on a gay black man, a police helicopter crew spots him and, using a loud speaker, orders him to desist, but Scorpio quickly packs up and escapes. That night, Harry and his temporary partner, Chico Gonzalez, a college graduate who majored in sociology and is the antithesis of Harry, are driving through the Tenderloin District when Chico sees a man carrying a tan suitcase that looks like one the police saw Scorpio carrying. They stop the car and separate, after which Harry follows the man to a nearby apartment and, spying at him and his girlfriend through their window, determines that he is not the killer. Some time later, when the body of a ten-year-old black boy is found in a vacant lot, with a spent 30-06 shell casing nearby, Harry knows that Scorpio has killed again. The police establish a command center to set a trap for Scorpio in North Beach. There the police arrange for a particular building's rooftop to remain unlocked, near St. Peter and Paul Church, assuming that Scorpio will try to carry through with his threat to kill a priest. That night, while Harry uses binoculars to survey the area, Scorpio goes onto the unlocked rooftop. Harry yells to Chico to turn on the lights when he gives the signal, illuminating Scorpio on the roof. Harry shoots at, but misses the killer, precipitating a gunfight between the two. By the time Harry and Chico reach the other building, Scorpio has disappeared, but not before killing a policeman. The next day, Bressler shows Harry a letter that Scorpio has just sent in which he encloses pictures of fourteen-year-old Ann Mary Deacon and a demand for the $100,000. The letter, which also encloses a lock of Ann Mary's hair and one of her molars, states that she has been buried in a secret location and only has enough oxygen to live until 3:00 a.m. Although Harry is convinced that the girl is already dead, Bressler asks him to carry the money, at the mayor's request. Bressler orders Harry to go alone, as instructed by Scorpio, and tells Chico to take the night off, but Harry and Chico secretly obtain sensitive microphones that enable them to keep in contact at a distance. That night, Harry waits at the Marina until Scorpio calls him on a pay telephone, then sends him to various locations throughout the city, with Chico secretly driving to each point after hearing the instructions through the listening device. The final destination is beneath the cross on top of Mt. Davidson. Scorpio, who is wearing a ski mask, tells Harry to drop the bag of money and stand with his nose against the cross, then starts to beat and kick him, saying he has changed his mind and will let the girl die. Hearing this from a short distance away, Chico starts to shoot until Harry tells him not to kill Scoprio. In the melee, Harry manages to take a switchblade knife taped to his leg and stab Scorpio in the leg, sending the squealing killer rolling down the hill. Chico is badly wounded and taken to the hospital, but Scorpio manages to escape. Later, despite his own beating, Harry goes to question a physician at a local hospital who reported a man receiving treatment for a suspicious knife wound. Under questioning, the doctor remembers that the wounded man sells programs at nearby Kezar Stadium, where he has a small room. Accompanied by fellow detective DeGeorgio, Harry climbs over the locked stadium fence then finds Scorpio's room, where he has hidden his 30-06 rifle. Harry then sees Scorpio in the distance and chases him out onto the field. When DeGeorgio turns on the stadium lights, Harry has a clear shot at Scorpio and wounds him in the leg. Lying on the field, Scorpio screams and demands a lawyer, as Harry slams his foot on Scorpio's leg. Although Harry elicits a confession from Scorpio for killing Ann Mary, whose body was found where Scorpio said he buried her, as the district attorney angrily tells him the next day, his blatant violation of Scorpio's rights mean that the seized rifle and confession will be inadmissible in court. Frustrated and angry, Harry is convinced that Scorpio will kill again because he likes it and decides to use his own time to follow him. Scorpio soon becomes unnerved by Harry's constant presence and, in retaliation, hires someone to beat him so that he can tell reporters that Harry did it. Meanwhile, Harry goes to visit the recuperating Chico and tells him that he wants him to be his permanent partner, but Chico sheepishly says that he is going to get a teaching job instead. As Harry leaves the hospital with Chico's wife, she says that it is her fault, not Chico's, but Harry, whose own wife was killed by a drunk driver, gently tells her not to blame herself because the violence of his life is not for her and Chico. Soon Scorpio robs and attacks a liquor store owner, then seizes a school bus carrying several grammar school children. He then forces the terrified bus driver, Marcella Platt, to phone the mayor so that Scorpio can reveal his new demands for $200,000 and an airplane. The mayor is told to have the money delivered just off the Sir Francis Drake Blvd. off-ramp on the highway north toward Santa Rosa. The mayor asks Harry to deliver the money, but Harry angrily refuses then leaves the mayor's office. A short time later, as the bus exits the highway and approaches a rock quarry, Scorpio sees Harry standing on a trestle bridge. Harry jumps onto the roof as the bus passes underneath, then Scorpio starts shooting into the roof, causing the bus to barrel to a stop. The terrified children and bus driver escape, while Scorpio enters the quarry, chased by Harry. Seeing a young boy fishing in a nearby pond, Scorpio exits the quarry and takes him hostage. When Harry follows, Scorpio puts his gun to the boy's head, threatening to shoot unless Harry drops his gun. Harry quickly shoots and disables Scorpio, enabling the boy to rush away. As Harry approaches, the badly wounded Scorpio eyes his gun, prompting Harry to tell him that in all the excitement he himself does not know if he fired five shots or six and asks Scorpio if he feels lucky. Laughing, Scorpio starts to reach for the gun but is mortally wounded by Harry's powerful .44 Magnum pistol. Harry now opens his wallet and removes his badge, flinging it far out into the water. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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