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Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry

By Patrick Samuel • May 21st, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Warner Bros

Release date: December 23rd, 1971
Running time: 102 minutes

Director: Don Siegel
Writers: Harry Julian Fink, R.M. Fink, Dean Riesner, John Milius, Terrence Malick

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Andy Robinson, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni, John Vernon

“I know what you’re thinking: ‘Did he fire six shots, or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk?”

Those words spoken by Clint Eastwood went on to become one of cinema’s best remembered and most often imitated, along with “I’m walking here!” from Midnight Cowboy (1967), “You talking to me?” from Taxi Driver (1976) and “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” from Apocalypse Now (1979).

Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is a San Francisco police detective, and not the kind of cop you’d like to have in your department or chasing after you. He’s not a team player and he doesn’t play by the rules. He’ll put aside protocol, procedures and anything else that might slow him down in catching the bad guys.

Dirty Harry

He’ll kill if it makes the streets safer for citizens like you and me. This doesn’t mean he stands for violence though; he’s a just man who can’t understand society tolerating it.

The ‘Scorpio Killer’, inspired by the Zodiac Killer who terrorized San Francisco in the late sixties and was never caught, is on the loose and promises to go on a spree of killings if the city doesn’t pay him $100,000. There’s only one thing the chief of police and the Mayor can do, they turn Callahan loose.

As the murders continue, Scorpio increases his ransom demand. Callahan is sent to meet him with a bag full of cash before his latest victim dies from suffocation after being buried alive.

Taking the law into his own hands rather than letting justice prevail leads to Scorpio being released. This doesn’t sit well with a man like Callahan who’s only ally is his 44 Smith & Wesson, but this time he knows he’s sacrificing his career to put Scorpio away – permanently.

Callahan was the first in a new breed of film cops. Previously we saw them as by-the-book kind of guys but here the hero is almost as dark as his antagonist. He’s unpredictable, Dirty Harrydisliked by his peers, and his questionable ethics have earned him the nickname ‘Dirty Harry’. Despite his techniques, he’s a man who believes in acting for the greater good and this is how he weighs up the world and it’s ultimately what justifies his actions throughout the movie.

As the action intensifies, the story comes to a climax which reprises Callahan’s now infamous speech, “’Do I feel lucky?” – making the payoff all the more satisfying as he puts this piece of scum away for good.

Although the role was first offered to Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Paul Newman and Steve McQeen, it’s impossible to imagine Callahan being played by anyone else now.

Eastwood’s steely gaze, ill temper and effortlessly cool manner made Callahan an often imitated movie icon and while shows like Hunter (1984), Sledge Hammer! (1986) and 24 (2001) used the “get the job done” cop template, there’ll always be only one Dirty Harry and for that, we feel very lucky.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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