Dirty Harry is a seminal film in the action genre and one of the most influential movies of the 1970s. It tells a hard edged story with some darkly amusing moments, and also smartly remarks on the era’s fear of criminals being granted more rights than their victims. Director Don Siegel is a master of visual storytelling. His stark compositions make full use of the widescreen format which beautifully highlights everything from the San Fransisco skyline to the barrel of a killer’s gun.
When a madman dubbed ‘Scorpio’ terrorizes San Francisco, hard-nosed cop, Harry Callahan – famous for his take-no-prisoners approach to law enforcement – is tasked with hunting down the psychopath. Harry eventually collars Scorpio in the process of rescuing a kidnap victim, only to see him walk on technicalities. Now, the maverick detective is determined to nail the maniac himself.
It’s hard to believe that Dirty Harry premiered nearly 50 years ago. The world has changed in many ways and this film contains outdated racial slurs, insensitive casting, and a slew of questionable police tactics. But taken as a glimpse into the beginning of a franchise and as a time capsule, Dirty Harry holds up remarkably well today.
Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson, Harry Guardino