There Ain’t No Sunshine In His Bag.
Milo here, feeling lucky.
Clint Eastwood is, as my father would put it, “a bad man”. There is little argument in this, as he is indeed, “a bad man”. His multiple roles in man-films, like the Dollars trilogy, have cemented his status as this. However, 1971’s Dirty Harry really showed him off, without the poncho, as the baaaaaad mamma-jamma Clint can be.
In San Francisco, a cesspit of crime and debauchery, a crazed killer, “Scorpio”, stalks the streets, holding hostages for ludicrous ransoms and shooting people in the… the shoulder? I dunno. However, San Fran is also home to Harry Callahan, the dirtiest cop on the force. With an eagle eye and a no-nonsense attitude, Dirty Harry will hunt down this maniac and stop at nothing to bring him to justice.
The plot is as beautifully retro and marvelously entertaining as my epic, 70s trailer-style summary made it out to be.
And you know this film is from the seventies. Every frame of the film has that filthy, grainy tint that I absolutely adore and the soundtrack is chocka with grooves so sweet, you’d need to call Melvin Van Peebles for assistance (HELL YEAH). If you didn’t the get seventies vibe from that, however, then dialogue, bursting at the seams with political incorrectness, should give you an idea. Don’t take that for criticism, as, for someone with quite a dark sense of humour, it can lead to some unintentionally funny moments.
Delivering these lines with supreme grumpiness is none other than Clint Eastwood, in peak form as Harry Callahan, an utter bastard but bloody goodun’. While there isn’t much diversity in his acting, I don’t exactly want there to be any, as I came to see Eastwood be a badass, and that’s what I got. Everything about his character was macho, from punching suicide attemptees to repeatedly and unapologetically calling one of his colleagues “fatso”, without so much as a snigger. Very cool indeed.
However, Andrew Robinson, playing the film’s main antagonist, The Scorpio Killer, refused to be overshadowed by the hero, as many action films tend to do, rather giving a memorable performance reeking of crazy. While his intentions may not always be clear at the beginning, Robinson made everything the villain did nail-biting with his captivating performance. As I said, this was quite refreshing, considering a percentage of action films have pretty unmemorable villains.
That being said, the film wasn’t without it’s faults. Although when the action did occur, it was brilliant and ridiculous, if a bit forgivably cliche, it felt a little too spread out for my liking, with the focus mainly on heightening the tension in dialogue scenes. This is all well and good, but I would’ve liked more action, personally. Staying in a similar vein, I felt the film’s pacing was a tad off, with, what felt like, a grand finale occuring halfway into it, only for there to be a second grand finale after that. Moreover, I also found the film to stray from it’s plot at points, in favour for some comic relief or making Harry seem like more of a badass, like that’s necessary.
Overall, Dirty Harry was a cool film. The entire seventies vibe given off gave me shivers down my spine, and the characters were perfectly cast. However, from a technical perspective, the pacing was a bit off, among other slight issues. I could’ve also done with more action, but, then again, I’m a sucker for ‘splosions.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations