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The Dirty Harry Series
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
The Dirty Harry Series order

Clint Eastwood
Harry Guardino
Andy Robinson


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Dirty Harry Callahan: a tough, streetwise, no-nonsense San Francisco cop with a grudge against "The System" steps into our lives and changes the role of tough guys in film forever. This set regroups the five movies about this man and his unforgiving way of doling out justice:

Dirty Harry (Director: Don Siegel) A crazed sniper terrorizes San Francisco and kidnaps a young girl for ransom. The police department sets Dirty Harry Callahan loose on the case and much to their own regret, a bloodbath ensues. With everyone from his captain up to the Mayor himself up in arms about his renegade tactics, Harry battles the system as much as he does the killer.

Magnum Force (Director: Ted Post) When San Francisco’s elite criminals start getting rubbed out one by one, it’s up to Dirty Harry to put an end to the vigilante justice. Having to stand up and defend the system he hates so much, Callahan faces off against the unlikely killers and their even more unlikely mastermind.

The Enforcer (Director: James Fargo) Dangerous terrorists start blowing things up in Frisco and once again, The San Fran PD is in way over their heads, not only with the criminals, but also with their gun-toting detective Harry. When they kidnap the mayor and murder Harry’s pal, they get the full anger of Callahan and his Magnum unleashed on their sorry asses.

Sudden Impact (Director: Clint Eastwood) In this fourth installment of the franchise, Harry tails a victim of a brutal gang rape as she hunts down the assailants who ruined her family’s lives. On his first assignment out of San Francisco, Dirty Harry takes his brutal methods out of town and ensures that criminals outside of his turf feel fortunate not to have him as a permanent fixture.

The Dead Pool (Director: Buddy Van Horn) A sick contest to murder San Francisco celebrities only gets more interesting when Dirty Harry Callahan’s name gets added to the list. Our man naturally takes a severe dislike to the situation and is joined by his familiar friends, Smith & Wesson, as they seek out the psychopath with a penchant for games that involve killing other people.
Big guns, cool one-liners, cheap suits, funky seventies soundtracks, cool black dudes and criminals with big hair and shades…can you go wrong? No.

Dirty Harry (1971) 5

A groundbreaking classic that forever changed the role of the movie tough guy. This cat and mouse tale of Callahan’s relentless pursuit for the serial killer Scorpio puts a whole new spin on the anti-hero cop who uses any means necessary, including breaking some of the laws he’s sworn to protect, in order to put criminals behind bars or six feet under. Andy Robinson plays the madman to a tee and the hatred that he manages to instill into the viewer for his character, drives your acceptance of Eastwood’s dirty techniques. The scene in which Callahan tortures a confession out of Scorpio in dimly lit Kezar stadium is a classic that no one will forget and that takes on almost mythical airs as the camera pulls slowly away from the hunter and his suffering prey.

Eastwood’s cool, steely-eyed performance is a perfect match for the grit of the movie and he’s given a great foil in Andy Robinson, the choir-boy faced psychopath who kills as cold-bloodedly as you and I breathe. A fantastic supporting cast including John Vernon, Harry Guardino and Reni Santoni give this film enough depth to make its brutal violence seem less senseless and to show the humanity of the title character, which can easily be lost as he tracks down criminals like a starving wild animal. Boosted by an out of this world score by Lalo Schifrin, director Don Siegel unleashes this unbelievable movie, and tough guys will never the same again…

Magnum Force (1974) 3

Probably the weakest of the sequels that followed the 1971 classic, this movie pretty much only holds up because of that trademark Eastwood presence. Let’s face it, one could easily watch hours of this man mowing his lawn and come away awe-inspired. The story is quite simple and the main (but not only) difference between this film and its predecessor is the relative weakness of its supporting cast. Hal Holbrook’s over-the-top acting as Lt. Briggs become comical after a while and Adele Yoshika’s horribly annoying performance as a Callahan groupie grinds a few quarter inches off your teeth. On the other hand, a brief appearance by Robert Urich does you some good but his role is pretty small.

But Eastwood carries this film on his shoulders and manages to give a relatively unimpressive movie some clout by kicking some serious ass and dishing out some of his infamous one-liners. This film also features the most intense car-chase to come out of the Bay Area since Steve McQueen careened down the winding roads in BULLITT. Overall, a good stand-alone movie but paling in comparison to the original.

The Enforcer (1976) 3.5

In this strong comeback to the gritty look of Dirty Harry, Inspector Callahan must fess up and accept his superior’s insistence that he take on an inexperienced female partner in the form of Tyne Daly, who later went on to claim her own fame as Det. Mary Beth Lacey, on TV's "Cagney & Lacey". Callahan takes on a group of murderous left-wing terrorists who kidnap the mayor and hold him for ransom. He must once again face off with "the System" and a tight-assed Captain who demotes him to personnel, following one of his “over-enthusiastic” foil-ups of a hold-up in progress. Buoyed by some of Eastwood’s rapid quips, this film re-establishes the Dirty Harry franchise as the top dog of the cop movie circuit. Action packed and fun to watch, this comes through real nice with some chips and beers.

Sudden Impact (1983) 3.5

"Go ahead, make my day”. This is the movie that unleashed this famous line around the world and made it a part of the English lexicon forever. It’s first uttered in this movie, in a classic scene in which Eastwood points his brand new magnum straight at a crook’s face while daring him to shoot his hostage. Needless to say, the bad man does not oblige. Once again at odds with the San Francisco Police department’s brass, Callahan gets sent out on an out of town assignment and continues his destruction of the criminal underworld.

This is a pretty damn good movie with some solid gun-toting action that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Sondra Locke (whose career was built by Eastwood and who later went on to sue the great man) turns in a pretty solid performance as the rape victim bent on revenge, and Eastwood is up to his old tricks again, staring, glaring and shooting his way through a mess of no-goodniks. Definitely a strong follow up to THE ENFORCER, this film also stars Albert Popwell as Eastwood’s partner. Knowledgeable viewers will trace his appearances back to the four preceding installments. Once again, break out the nachos and ice-cold coke and enjoy the high-speed action as only Clint can provide.

The Dead Pool (1988) 4

One of the best sequels to the original film, this one never gives you time to breathe, eat or go to the washroom. Action-packed from beginning to end and with never a dull moment, the explosive detective become the hunted for the first time and decides to take matters into his own hands like only Dirty Harry can. He unpacks the Magnum yet again and takes to the streets. Strong support is given here by the very hot Samantha Jackson, as a news reporter and by Jedi Knight Liam Neeson, who takes the role of a horror movie director all the way to the bank. Fun movie with an interesting plot and all the excitement we can expect from this series, along with a small role for future annoying star Jim Carrey and a cameo by former band Guns 'N Roses, keep you sharp as you hit the beat one more time with Inspector Harry Callahan.
On this point, the whole set is a tad disappointing, as you would hope to have a bit more insight from Eastwood himself on the movies. All five discs have some common extras, and the first three discs have a few extras of their own.

The text extras you’ll find on all discs are: Cast & Crew listings, text of some “Behind the Scenes” tidbits, blurbs on the Location of the shooting, Memorable Lines from each movie and naturally, the trailer for each film.

On DIRTY HARRY, you’ll also get an extra kick from a half-hour documentary hosted by Robert Urich entitled “Dirty Harry: The Original”, which discusses the impact of the first film on both the sequels, and film in general. It features interviews with Eastwood, Andy Robinson and some other actors and contributors from all five movies. For some reason, they also interview Arnold Schwarzenegger discussing the impact that the movie had on him. I don’t really mind, Arnie’s pretty cool himself. Another feature is an “Interview Gallery” with 10 short interviews totaling about thirty minutes. Among them again are Eastwood, Robinson, directors, actors, and once again, Arnold Schwarzenegger (I guess he really likes the movie). It also features an “Original Documentary”, about seven minutes long, which was released by Warner Bros, along with the film in the early seventies. Pretty cool to watch.

On MAGNUM FORCE, an eight-minute documentary entitled “The Hero Cop Today and Today” discusses the difference that this movie brought on, in the way that cops and tough guys were portrayed in the movies, before and after Harry Callahan hit the screens. It’s actually really interesting to watch the shift in perception. Go Harry!

The last documentary you will find is on THE ENFORCER and lasts about six minutes. Entitled “Harry Callahan / Clint Eastwood: Something special on film”, it features some original location footage from the movies along with some discussion on the character of Harry Callahan. Very cool in a groovy seventies sort of way.

My biggest disappointment was that there were no commentary tracks with any of the movies. It would have been great to hear what the players had to say regarding the films, especially Clint Eastwood talking about “Dirty Harry”. It would also have been nice to hear more about director Don Siegel.
“Opinions are like assholes… everybody has one” – Clint Eastwood, The Dead Pool

That being said, my opinion is that no collection is complete without this unbelievable addition. Led by the classic debut of DIRTY HARRY and through the sequels, one can’t help but feel like the criminals going through Harry’s days are really getting what they deserve. This is a wonderful set of movies in a nice package that any serious movie buff must own. The extremely high re-watch value of all of these movies makes a strong statement for purchase. Buy it, watch it...then watch it again…
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