Cast & Crew
In San Francisco, while police inspector Harry Callahan, called "Dirty Harry" by his colleagues, is at the crime scene of a young woman shot to death in a rooftop swimming pool, he notices a nearby high-rise building that has an unobstructed view of the roof. Climbing to the top of the other building, Harry finds a shell casing for a 30-06 high-powered rifle, then sees a handwritten note attached to an aerial. The note, which is addressed "to the city of San Francisco" and signed "Scorpio," demands $100,000 or Scorpio will kill one person each day, starting with a Catholic priest or a black person. The mayor decides to pay the ransom, over the objections of Harry, his boss, Lt. Bressler, and the chief of police, and instructs them to do what Scorpio has demanded, respond with a personal ad placed in The San Francisco Chronicle . The mayor then instructs them to add that it will take some time to get the money, hoping to give the police more time to find Scorpio. After the ad appears, Scorpio goes onto a rooftop in the North Beach area looking for a victim. While he is setting his rifle sight on a gay black man, a police helicopter crew spots him and, using a loud speaker, orders him to desist, but Scorpio quickly packs up and escapes. That night, Harry and his temporary partner, Chico Gonzalez, a college graduate who majored in sociology and is the antithesis of Harry, are driving through the Tenderloin District when Chico sees a man carrying a tan suitcase that looks like one the police saw Scorpio carrying. They stop the car and separate, after which Harry follows the man to a nearby apartment and, spying at him and his girlfriend through their window, determines that he is not the killer. Some time later, when the body of a ten-year-old black boy is found in a vacant lot, with a spent 30-06 shell casing nearby, Harry knows that Scorpio has killed again. The police establish a command center to set a trap for Scorpio in North Beach. There the police arrange for a particular building's rooftop to remain unlocked, near St. Peter and Paul Church, assuming that Scorpio will try to carry through with his threat to kill a priest. That night, while Harry uses binoculars to survey the area, Scorpio goes onto the unlocked rooftop. Harry yells to Chico to turn on the lights when he gives the signal, illuminating Scorpio on the roof. Harry shoots at, but misses the killer, precipitating a gunfight between the two. By the time Harry and Chico reach the other building, Scorpio has disappeared, but not before killing a policeman. The next day, Bressler shows Harry a letter that Scorpio has just sent in which he encloses pictures of fourteen-year-old Ann Mary Deacon and a demand for the $100,000. The letter, which also encloses a lock of Ann Mary's hair and one of her molars, states that she has been buried in a secret location and only has enough oxygen to live until 3:00 a.m. Although Harry is convinced that the girl is already dead, Bressler asks him to carry the money, at the mayor's request. Bressler orders Harry to go alone, as instructed by Scorpio, and tells Chico to take the night off, but Harry and Chico secretly obtain sensitive microphones that enable them to keep in contact at a distance. That night, Harry waits at the Marina until Scorpio calls him on a pay telephone, then sends him to various locations throughout the city, with Chico secretly driving to each point after hearing the instructions through the listening device. The final destination is beneath the cross on top of Mt. Davidson. Scorpio, who is wearing a ski mask, tells Harry to drop the bag of money and stand with his nose against the cross, then starts to beat and kick him, saying he has changed his mind and will let the girl die. Hearing this from a short distance away, Chico starts to shoot until Harry tells him not to kill Scoprio. In the melee, Harry manages to take a switchblade knife taped to his leg and stab Scorpio in the leg, sending the squealing killer rolling down the hill. Chico is badly wounded and taken to the hospital, but Scorpio manages to escape. Later, despite his own beating, Harry goes to question a physician at a local hospital who reported a man receiving treatment for a suspicious knife wound. Under questioning, the doctor remembers that the wounded man sells programs at nearby Kezar Stadium, where he has a small room. Accompanied by fellow detective DeGeorgio, Harry climbs over the locked stadium fence then finds Scorpio's room, where he has hidden his 30-06 rifle. Harry then sees Scorpio in the distance and chases him out onto the field. When DeGeorgio turns on the stadium lights, Harry has a clear shot at Scorpio and wounds him in the leg. Lying on the field, Scorpio screams and demands a lawyer, as Harry slams his foot on Scorpio's leg. Although Harry elicits a confession from Scorpio for killing Ann Mary, whose body was found where Scorpio said he buried her, as the district attorney angrily tells him the next day, his blatant violation of Scorpio's rights mean that the seized rifle and confession will be inadmissible in court. Frustrated and angry, Harry is convinced that Scorpio will kill again because he likes it and decides to use his own time to follow him. Scorpio soon becomes unnerved by Harry's constant presence and, in retaliation, hires someone to beat him so that he can tell reporters that Harry did it. Meanwhile, Harry goes to visit the recuperating Chico and tells him that he wants him to be his permanent partner, but Chico sheepishly says that he is going to get a teaching job instead. As Harry leaves the hospital with Chico's wife, she says that it is her fault, not Chico's, but Harry, whose own wife was killed by a drunk driver, gently tells her not to blame herself because the violence of his life is not for her and Chico. Soon Scorpio robs and attacks a liquor store owner, then seizes a school bus carrying several grammar school children. He then forces the terrified bus driver, Marcella Platt, to phone the mayor so that Scorpio can reveal his new demands for $200,000 and an airplane. The mayor is told to have the money delivered just off the Sir Francis Drake Blvd. off-ramp on the highway north toward Santa Rosa. The mayor asks Harry to deliver the money, but Harry angrily refuses then leaves the mayor's office. A short time later, as the bus exits the highway and approaches a rock quarry, Scorpio sees Harry standing on a trestle bridge. Harry jumps onto the roof as the bus passes underneath, then Scorpio starts shooting into the roof, causing the bus to barrel to a stop. The terrified children and bus driver escape, while Scorpio enters the quarry, chased by Harry. Seeing a young boy fishing in a nearby pond, Scorpio exits the quarry and takes him hostage. When Harry follows, Scorpio puts his gun to the boy's head, threatening to shoot unless Harry drops his gun. Harry quickly shoots and disables Scorpio, enabling the boy to rush away. As Harry approaches, the badly wounded Scorpio eyes his gun, prompting Harry to tell him that in all the excitement he himself does not know if he fired five shots or six and asks Scorpio if he feels lucky. Laughing, Scorpio starts to reach for the gun but is mortally wounded by Harry's powerful .44 Magnum pistol. Harry now opens his wallet and removes his badge, flinging it far out into the water.
Maurice S. Argent
Jo De Winter
Craig G. Kelly
John W. Peebles
George R. Burrafato
Frederic D. Ross
Stuart P. Klitsner
John F. Vick
Maxwell Gail Jr.
Charles A. Murphy
Charles G. Washburn
Mary Ann Neis
Vincent P. Deadrick
Joanne Moore Jordan
Arnold F. Turner
Alex A. Brown
William T. Couch
Everett Louis Creach
Vincent P. Deadrick
Bennie E. Dobbins
Harry Julian Fink
Harry Julian Fink
R. M. Fink
R. M. Fink
Julie Ann Johnson
Robert J. Miles Jr.
Boyd "red" Morgan
Jean Burt Reilly
George C. Sawaya
Wayne Van Horn
Richard A. Washington
Dirty Harry is more than a cop film. It's a zeitgeist phenomenon. It resonates as few films of its genre do, crystallizing an era when a Vietnam-scarred nation, disquieted by drugs, crime, urban decay, more and more public manifestations of franker and franker sex and language and fewer and fewer restraints, reverted to what we historically do in times of collective stress and a sense that things are unraveling - look to a vigilante with a cool exterior and a steady trigger finger to put things right.
Strictly speaking, Harry Callahan is a civil servant, a working cop from the working class. Beneath his full head of '70s hair, he always wears a collar and tie, neatly knotted, usually with a v-neck sweater, slacks and obviously off-the-rack wool sport jackets ranging from herringbone to horse blanket patterns. He lunches on hot dogs -- when he doesn't have to interrupt lunch to foil a bank robbery in progress. He doesn't say much. "I don't say words well," Eastwood has said. "I stare well." He stares a lot here, often in frustrated incredulity at the way a system the film sees as excessively liberal puts back on the street criminals he and his fellow cops had put themselves at risk to put away.
He has no life outside his job and what, for him, is its ongoing conflict. His job is to administer the law. In his view, this is not the same as administering justice. If this means bending, or breaking, rules, he will. For most of its length, Dirty Harry is a conventional enough cop drama, with frank, sarcastic Callahan and his colleagues hunting a serial sniper who pulls the trigger from this or that rooftop on victims lined up in his crosshairs. The film opens with an unsuspecting woman gunned down in a hotel's rooftop swimming pool. More die, one to the visual counterpoint of the killer's bullets strafing a neon-lit JESUS SAVES sign. The killer signs his taunting notes Scorpio (shades of Northern California's Zodiac Killer!) and the film leaves no argument against taking this guy off the streets.
Harry and his fellow cops come close to catching him before Harry finally does. In an interview accompanying the film's DVD release, actor Andy Robinson, who played Scorpio, recalls director Don Siegel casting him because, in Robinson's words, "he wanted someone with the face of a choir boy." The killer's appearance is just as shrewdly calculated as Harry's was. With his Harpo Marx hair, high-pitched, almost childish voice, taunting phone calls, crazed laugh and peace-symbol belt buckle, he suggests a hippie stereotype gone ballistic. Curiously, we see where the killer lives, when Harry tracks him to his lair in the bowels of Kezar Stadium, onetime home of the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. But we never see where Harry lives.
We do know Harry's interior is a dark place. He enjoys pointing the gun. The first time we see him do it, in the bank robbery scene, there's something playful, yet more than a bit sadistic, when he waves that phallic barrel in the downed robber's face, then winks and smiles. (Much has been written, all probably with reason, about the sexual symbolism of Harry's .44 Magnum - no mere standard-issue police .38 for him!) The second time he uses it, the edgy playfulness is gone. Harry is seething with rage, partly because he sees the so-called criminal justice system, with what he views as its insane leniency, as complicit in the crime. Before storming out, he asks, "When are you people gonna stop messin' around with this guy?"
The reason a case can't be made against the killer is that Harry entered the guy's digs without a warrant to find the lethal rifle. It doesn't matter that he did it because he thought time was running out for a victim a teenaged girl buried alive. In a brilliantly devised scene, we see Harry drop the sadistic killer at midfield, then torture the torturer to learn the girl's whereabouts. The moral cloudiness of the moment is expressed as the camera draws back and the grassy gridiron is engulfed in fog.
The message is clear: Harry fights violence and craziness with violence and craziness because sometimes that's what it takes. His soft voice and matter-of-fact manner contrast with his bold, outrageous actions. That there's something of the Peeping Tom in him is suggested when Harry's gaze lingers longer than necessary on a couple of nude women while trying to scope out the killer. Just as Harry's voice is deceptively soft, to go with his taciturn manner, the sex, even when bathed in garish red light as Harry enters a topless bar on the killer's trail, is presented matter-of-factly, not salaciously. Ditto for the language. You never feel it's there for shock effect. Most of the lines are delivered in almost throwaway fashion. But the operative word to describe the world of the film is dark. It begins and ends in daylight. In between, it's almost always night as the film descends into Dantean circle after Dantean circle of a moral hell. Dirty Harry is a soul brother of Taxi Driver (1976).
Dirty Harry was the fourth of five films Eastwood shot with Siegel. With Leone, Siegel was the great influence on Eastwood's directing (Eastwood dedicated his 1985 Pale Rider to both). Siegel's career was mostly forged at the helm of cop, action and Western movies, usually on tight budgets, often favoring night shots. Possibly by temperament, certainly by necessity, he learned to shoot quickly and efficiently, with very few retakes. Eastwood has said he found Siegel's directness, economy and decisiveness congenial, learning from him and emulating these qualities. Eastwood's penchant for scenes shot in virtual darkness was also part of the Siegel legacy. Darkness, literal and metaphorical, is no small part of Dirty Harry.
As in the case of many landmark movies, Eastwood was not the first actor wooed for the role. Paul Newman turned it down. Steve McQueen and Frank Sinatra expressed interest, but never made it to the starting gate. Eastwood, whose own directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, was released in November, 1971, a month before Dirty Harry, actually made his own (uncredited) directing debut when Siegel was sidelined by flu and Eastwood directed a scene in which Harry rides a fire truck's cherry-picker up several stories to thwart a would-be jumper's suicide. Eastwood enjoyed two small pieces of payback. When Harry is running down some subway steps, a piece of spray-painted graffiti on a wall says KYLE -- the name of Eastwood's son. Earlier, around the corner from the hot dog joint Harry favors, Play Misty for Me is emblazoned across a theater marquee.
Producer: Don Siegel
Director: Don Siegel
Screenplay: Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink (Screenplay (credited) and story (uncredited)); Dean Riesner (screenplay); John Milius (screenplay (uncredited)); Jo Heims (story (uncredited))
Cinematography: Bruce Surtees
Art Direction: Dale Hennessey
Music: Lalo Schifrin
Film Editing: Carl Pingitore
Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Harry Guardino (Al Bressler), Reni Santoni (Chico Gonzalez), John Vernon (The Mayor), Andrew Robinson (Charles Davis), John Larch (The Chief), John Mitchum (Frank DiGiorgio), Mae Mercer (Mrs. Russell), Lyn Edgington (Norma), Ruth Kobart (Bus Driver).
by Jay Carr
Have you been following that man?- Chief
Yeah, I've been following him on my own time. And anybody can tell I didn't do that to him.- Harry Callahan
Cause he looks too damn good, that's how!- Harry Callahan
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 as 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?- Harry Callahan
You're lucky I'm not indicting you for assault with intent to commit murder.- District Attorney Rothko
What?- Harry Callahan
Where does it say that you have the right to kick down doors, torture suspects, deny medical attention and legal counsel? Where have you been? Does Escobedo ring a bell? Miranda? Why surely you've heard of the Fourth Amendment? What I'm saying is that man had rights.- District Attorney Rothko
Well, I'm all broken up over that man's rights!- Harry Callahan
Well, when an adult male is chasing a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard. That's my policy.- Harry Callahan
Intent? How did you establish that?- The Mayor
When a man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher's knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn't out collecting for the Red Cross!- Harry Callahan
Well let's have it.- The Mayor
Have what?- Harry Callahan
A report! What have you been doing?- The Mayor
Well, for the past three quarters of an hour I've been sitting on my ass in your outer office waiting on you!- Harry Callahan
The title role was originally intended for Frank Sinatra. (He injured his hand in an accident), it was offered to John Wayne, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, finally being accepted by Clint Eastwood.
American war hero and actor Audie Murphy was first approached to play the villian "Scorpio". Murphy was killed in a plane crash in 1971 and it is not known whether he had said he would or would not take the part.
After Harry has foiled the bank robbery at the beginning of the film, he strides over to the one surviving robber. In doing so, he walks in front of a theatre which is showing Play Misty for Me (1971), which Eastwood directed and starred in.
Opening sniper scenes shot from atop San Francisco's Bank of America Building on California Street. The sniper's target is a girl swimming in the pool on the roof of the Holiday Inn in Chinatown a few blocks north on Kearny Street.
When Callahan (Eastwood) is being run all over town by Scorpio, he passes a wall which bears the graffiti "Kyle", the name of Eastwood's son.
The working title of the film was Dead Right. News items in Apr, September and November 1970 confirm that Frank Sinatra was originally to star in the film, which was to be produced and directed by Irvin Kershner, with Arthur Jacobson acting as associate producer. According to a November 16, 1970 Warner Bros. press release, Sinatra had to withdraw from the film because of complications following recent surgery on his hand. Some modern sources have stated that John Wayne was approached to portray "Harry 'Dirty Harry' Callahan," but a December 17, 1970 studio press release announced that Clint Eastwood would star in, as well as produce the film through his The Malpaso Company.
Although the film is fictional, the random killings, communications with the police in disjointed letters and ransom demand of the film's killer, "Scorpio," were inspired by late 1960s-early 1970s murders committed by the real-life Bay Area killer known as "The Zodiac." For information on the Zodiac and other films based on, or inspired by murders he committed, please consult the entry below for the 1971 film The Zodiac Killer. Dirty Harry was shot almost entirely on location in San Francisco, with many of the city's familiar landmarks seen from street level as well as aerial shots. Bay Area locations included, among others, the North Beach and Tenderloin districts, City Hall, Mt. Davidson, the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, old Kezar Stadium, the Forest Fills BART station and Golden Gate Park. The film's climax was shot in Larkspur, near Richmond, just north of San Francisco. The trestle bridge featured in the sequence was torn down in 2003. According to an article in Life, Eastwood directed the suicide sequence when director Don Siegel was ill with the flu.
The one sequence that was not shot on location was the diner/bank robbery sequence, which was filmed on the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles. In the sequence, which was unrelated to the film's main storyline, Harry, who is suspicious of a car slowly circling the street on which his favorite diner is located, asks the diner owner to call in a bank robbery in progress report to the police. Before they arrive, Harry goes out to the street and enters into a gun battle with the bank robbers, causing chaos and several car crashes. At the end of the gun battle, one of the robbers (actor Albert Popwell), who is lying on the ground wounded, is about to reach for his gun when Eastwood delivers a short speech that has been included often in documentaries on films of the 1970s and Eastwood's career. Beginning with "Ah, ah, I know what you're thinkin'" and ending with the words "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do ya, punk?" That final line, which subsequent to the film's release became a popular and iconic catchphrase, was ranked 51st on AFI's list of the 100 greatest movie quotes. The same speech is repeated at the end of the film when Harry confronts Scorpio outside the rock quarry.
The gun that Harry uses in the film is a .44 Magnum, a large gun that is commented upon throughout the film and was featured prominently in the film's key art. A running question throughout the story is why Harry is called "Dirty Harry," with several characters offering their own theories. Although the reasons vary, Harry, and later "Chico Gonzalez," concludes that he is called that because he is given every "dirty job" in the police department. In the bank robbery sequence, a movie theater marquee that is visible in the background is advertising Play Misty for Me, the 1971 Eastwood film that marked his directorial debut (see below). Actor Kristoffer Tabori, who had a bit role as a "Hippy Guy," was director Siegel's son. Some modern sources have also included Siegel in the cast in a bit role as a man running in an alley.
While the film was a huge hit at the box office, and received significant praise from some critics, others, such as the Hollywood Reporter reviewer, strongly objected to the film's violence, comparing the film's MPAA R rating with X ratings given [and subsequently changed following editorial revisions] to two previously released 1971 films, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and Ken Russell's The Devils, stating "if parents are to be allowed to take their children (who May be 15 and 16, for example) to see this picture, but they will not be allowed to take them to see Stanley Kubrick's new film, then that is a disgrace."
Many reviewers found Harry's persona and tactics strikingly opposed to the softer male heroes that had recently been popular onscreen. Prominent New Yorker critic Pauline Kael called the film "a right-wing fantasy," and labeled it "fascist medievalism" in a 1972 review that became so controversial and influential that it was reprinted in one of her collections and has been discussed in many modern sources. When Kael died in 1991, her Dirty Harry review was one of a handful mentioned as hallmarks of her work.
Dirty Harry, along with Play Misty for Me and Beguiled, which were also released in 1971 ( and below), marked a turning point in Eastwood's career, establishing him as a top echelon box-office star. According to modern biographies of Eastwood, his positive experience with Warner Bros. and executive producer Robert Daley was instrumental in his decision to move The Malpaso Company headquarters from the Universal lot to Warner Bros., where it has remained for more than thirty-five years.
Dirty Harry brought in over $16,000,000 in domestic film rentals and was the fifth highest-grossing film of 1972, when it was in wide release. According to an August 1973 Variety news item, in India, an injunction was brought against the producers of the Hindi film Khoon Khoon for copyright infringement of Dirty Harry, stating that the Hindi film too closely followed the American film. Four additional "Dirty Harry" films were made, all of which starred Eastwood as Harry: Magnum Force (1973, directed by Ted Post), The Enforcer (1976, directed by James Fargo), Sudden Impact (1983, directed by Eastwood) and The Dead Pool (1988, directed by Buddy Van Horn). In early 2005, an announcement was made in trade publications that Eastwood would partner with Warner Bros.' videogame division, Interactive Entertainment, to produce a new game based on the Dirty Harry character and would lend his likeness and voice to the game for the new PlayStation3 and XBox 360 game systems. On May 11, 2006, it was reported that actors Gene Hackman and Laurence Fishburne would also lend their voices and likenesses to the game.
Released in United States Winter December 22, 1971
Released in United States December 23, 1971
Released in United States August 1996
Released in United States 1998
Released in United States October 2000
Shown at Radio City Film Festival August 1996.
Shown at WideScreen Film Festival in Long Beach, California October 23-25 and October 30 - November 1, 1998.
Shown at Austin Film Festival October 12-19, 2000.
Released in USA on video.
Completed shooting June 8, 1971.
Released in United States Winter December 22, 1971
Released in United States December 23, 1971
Released in United States August 1996 (Shown at Radio City Film Festival August 1996.)
Released in United States 1998 (Shown at WideScreen Film Festival in Long Beach, California October 23-25 and October 30 - November 1, 1998.)
Released in United States October 2000 (Shown at Austin Film Festival October 12-19, 2000.)