Dirty Harry (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes

Dirty Harry1971

Dirty Harry (1971)



Critic Consensus: As tough and taciturn as its no-nonsense hero, Dirty Harry delivers a deceptively layered message without sacrificing an ounce of its solid action impact.

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"You've got to ask yourself a question: 'do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" Dirty Harry provoked a critical uproar in 1971 for its "fascist" message about the power of one, as it also elevated Clint Eastwood to superstar status through his most enduring screen persona. Harry Callahan (Eastwood, in a role meant for Frank Sinatra) is a sardonic, hard-working San Francisco cop who can't finish his lunch without having to foil a bank robbery with his 44 Magnum, "the most powerful handgun in the world." When hippie-esque psycho Scorpio (Andy Robinson) goes on a killing spree, Harry and new partner Chico (Reni Santoni) are assigned to hunt him down, but not before the Mayor (John Vernon) and Lt. Bressler (Harry Guardino) admonish Callahan about his heavy-handed tactics. Racing against a deadline to save a kidnap victim from suffocating to death and unbothered by the niceties of Miranda rights and search warrants, Callahan brings in Scorpio, only to see him released on technicalities. "The law's crazy," opines Harry in disgust, before taking it upon himself to ensure that Scorpio doesn't kill again. Directed in violent and efficient fashion by Don Siegel, with a propulsive score by Lalo Schifrin, Dirty Harry was the fourth Siegel-Eastwood collaboration after Coogan's Bluff (1968), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), and The Beguiled (1970). Critics at the time strongly objected to the heroic image of a cop's violations of a suspect's Miranda rights, forcing Siegel and Eastwood to deny that they were right-wing reactionaries. All the same, Dirty Harry proved to be highly popular and spawned four sequels: Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983), and The Dead Pool (1988). ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

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Clint Eastwood
as Harry Callahan
John Mitchum
as De Georgio
Mae Mercer
as Mrs. Russell
Woodrow Parfrey
as Mr. Jaffe
Craig Kelly
as Sgt. Reineke
Jo De Winter
as Miss Willis
Maurice Argent
as Sid Kleinman
Charles Dorsett
as Television Watcher
Melody Thomas Scott
as Ann Mary Deacon
John Larch
as Police Chief
David Gilliam
as Homosexual
Ruth Kobart
as Bus Driver
Richard Lawson
as Homosexual
Jim Nolan
as Liquor Store Proprietor
George Fargo
as Homicide Detective
Angela Paton
as Homicide Detective
John W. Peebles
as Walkie Talkie Policeman
Ernest Robinson
as Robber (uncredited)
Chuck Dorsett
as Television Watcher
Dean Webber
as Newsman
Debra Scott
as Ann Mary Deacon (uncredited)
Scott Hale
as Newsman
Joy Carlin
as Communications Secretary
James Nolan
as Liquor Store Proprietor
Allen Seaman
as Orderly
Stu Klitsner
as Policeman
Eddie Garrett
as Policeman
Diane Darnell
as Mayor's Secretary
Lois Foraker
as Hot Mary
John F. Vick
as Fired Chief
Tony Dario
as Police Sergeant
John Garber
as Tunnel Hoodlum
Max Gail
as Tunnel Hoodlum
Christopher Pray
as Tunnel Hoodlum
Mary Ann Neis
as Miss Van Sachs
Debbi Scott
as Ann Mary Deacon
Victor Paul
as Car Driver
Bob Harris
as Man in Truck
Joe Finnegan
as Man in Truck
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Critic Reviews for Dirty Harry

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (6)

Clint Eastwood, in the title role, is a superhero whose antics become almost satire. Strip away the philosophical garbage and all that's left is a well-made but shallow running-and-jumping meller.

March 1, 2007 | Full Review…

A crisp, beautifully paced film, full of Siegel's wonderful coups of cutting and framing.

March 1, 2007

No less than Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it offers a fabulous, multifarious political metaphor. (And, as with Body Snatchers, Siegel's own liberal interpretation was trumped by a more forceful hard-right reading.

April 4, 2006

Seminal law-and-order cinema.

January 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

If there aren't mentalities like Dirty Harry's at loose in the land, then the movie is irrelevant. If there are, we should not blame the bearer of the bad news.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

What makes Dirty Harry worth watching no matter how dumb the story, is Siegel's superb sense of the city, not as a place of moods but as a theater for action.

May 21, 2003 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dirty Harry


The best Dirty Harry film, good cop thriller.

Dean King
Dean King

Super Reviewer

In the pursuit of the gleefully sadistic yet cowardly Scorpio killer, played to perfection by Andy Robinson, Detective Inspector Harry Callahan manages to step on the toes of every one of the bureaucratic superiors he holds in so much disdain. The man with no name may have been the character that made Clint a star, but it was Harry Callahan that made him an icon; he is the personification of tough guy charisma in one of the all-time classic cop thrillers. Don Siegel directs with incredible economy, encapsulating Callahan's character in a brief exchange with the mayor and his methods in the classic bank heist shoot out all within the first 15 minutes. No car chases, no explosions, no romantic interest. Just a brilliantly written, perfectly executed hard-boiled crime thriller scored wonderfully by best of the best, Lalo Schifrin. Nigh on perfect.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

A gritty and riveting thriller. A classic of its time and still works today. Clint Eastwood gives a real movie star performance, he has the grit, wit and tough as nails persona that shows why he was one of the true leading men of his time and one of the ultimate bad asses in film history. A tough. taunt and terrific film that still works and is the best of the series. It`s cool as hell and action-packed and always entertaining. A hard-edged and pulse-pounding edge of your seat thrill-ride.

Al S
Al S

Super Reviewer

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