"Dirty Harry" was one of 1971's most popular and controversial films, and it strongly influenced crime cinema for many years to follow - the script was written by Julian & Rita Fink, and was originally known as "Dead Straight" with Frank Sinatra as the proposed lead. However, Sinatra had injured his hand, the script came into Eastwood's possession and he took it to good friend, director Don Siegel - and the rest as they say is history. The character of unorthodox, hard nosed San Francisco detective Inspector Harry Callahan has proven to be the most enduring for Eastwood with five appearances as Inspector Callahan from 1971's "Dirty Harry", onto 1973's "Magnum Force", then 1977's "The Enforcer" through to 1983's "Sudden Impact", and finally 1988's "The Dead Pool" - however, the first foray is by far the finest. Onscreen, Eastwood's laconic, blunt performance is equally matched by the knife edge work of then unknown actor Andy Robinson as the psychotic killer "Scorpio" (loosely inspired by the notorious "Zodiac" killer of the late 1960's), Canadian actor John Vernon fits the frustrated mayors role well, Reni Santoni is impressive as Harry's well meaning but naive partner Chico, and Harry Guardino is superb as Harry's immediate boss, Lt Bressler. The film was equally applauded and savaged by critics upon release, many criticising it as "right wing propaganda" or "fascist", - in my opinion, it's a tense, well constructed thriller full of Don Siegels inventive direction and multi-layered intensity. Eastwood definitely was the right choice for the moody, uncompromising detective - and that now iconic "Do you feel lucky punk ?" speech is a firm piece of modern film culture. Watch during the famous shoot out in front of the bank near the film's beginning - it is the only sequence in the movie shot on a Hollywood backlot, and as Harry crosses the road you can see on the movie marquee behind him the theatre is showing "Play Misty For Me" !! One of the stand out crime dramas of American cinema, and a major inspiration for future film makers globally.
(Not to be missed!) - review by Peter