Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry; crime, USA, 1971; D: Don Siegel, S: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson

In San Francisco some maniac called Scorpio uses a gun to shoot people from a rooftop, demanding the authorities to pay him 100.000 $ in exchange for him stopping his crimes. Inspector Harry Callahan is called on the case, a cynical fighter for justice who settles every score with a criminal the "hard way". He gets a new partner, Mexican Chico, but fails to discover anything. Then Scorpio kidnaps a girl and now demands 200.000 $. Harry manages to capture him, though he finds the girl dead. Even worse, Scorpio is set free due to lack of evidence. Thus Harry finds and kills him.

"Dirty Harry" stirred up quite a commotion during its premiere and created a hype of scandal, but due to a spontaneous cynicism it quickly went on to become a "hard boiled" classic. Clint Eastwood isn't irritating at all as the main hero - actually, it is his best role in his entire career - who is a symbol for fighter for justice who is marginalised by stiff bureaucracy. The dialogues are typically sarcastic, sharp and refreshing, practically even entering into comedy at some moments. "What have you been doing until now, Harry?", asks the mayor after he invited him into his office after a long wait. "Nothing, I've been sitting for the past three quarters of an hour on my butt waiting for you to call me into your office", he replies. "I hope you won't make such a mess as the last time!" - "Well, when a man is chasing a woman with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard. That's my policy". Such, an many other lines, like the legendary "Do I feel lucky?", among others written by John Milius, give the film additional spark, displaying the authors' right wing policy in which a killer should simply be punished, but the left wing civil rights laws actually gives him more rights than the victim. The second half of the film, where the Scorpio case is prolonged, is weaker and loses its touch of caricature, which worked so well.

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