For all the Dirty Harry films have come to represent, most of them are surprisingly routine and even dull in the plot and particularly action department. At most, they are distinguished by the odd one-liner the line that will probably go on Clint Eastwoods tomb is Go ahead make my day but few people can actually name the film it came from Sudden Impact (1983). Most of all, what one remembers is their attitude. Dirty Harry is the best of the quintology. There isnt much to the plot concerning all-encompassing psycho Andy Robinson. What one remember about Dirty Harry though are the set-pieces the suicide that Eastwood shows brutal contempt for; and his famous speech, since much parodied: I know what youre thinking did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all the excitement Ive kind of lost track myself, but then this is the .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off. Youve got to ask yourself the question do I feel lucky? Well, do you punk?
Dirty Harry is a naked libertarian fantasy, although it could only be taken seriously by the most naive. (Some of the script was purportedly uncreditedly tuned by the most famous Hollywood libertarian conservative of the era, John Milius). The psycho of the piece is portrayed as someone utterly despicable a coward and a double-dealer, but most of all as someone who protests about his rights and manipulates an overly liberal justice system, a common theme of these films. The film has to become ludicrously contrived in order to make its point about the potential abuses that can be made out of insisting that people have rights under the law the search of the killers quarters, despite what the film says, is conducted with Probable Cause. The scene where Eastwood deals with a suicide who is threatening to jump, fooling him into anger by showing brutal indifference to his emotions and then grabbing him while he is distracted, clearly demonstrates the libertarian position as to the waste of time it is to show sympathy for the less stable of mind. Ultimately though, Dirty Harry does represent a deep-seated hypocrisy it takes a strong and strident moral tone, regarding its parade of killers and prostitutes as sick, yet ends up appealing to the very presentation of such sick violence in order to entertain its audience.
The Scorpio killer played by Andrew Robinson was taken almost directly from the real-life Zodiac Killer who was terrorising San Francisco at the time that Dirty Harry came out, with the killer here even being named after a zodiacal sign. Beginning in 1969 and through the 1970s, the Zodiac wrote a series of cryptic letters to police and newspapers, among which he threatened to shoot at a busload of children. A detailed depiction of the real-life Zodiac Killer hunt is seen in David Finchers excellent Zodiac (2007), against which Dirty Harry is amusingly contrasted at one point.
The other Dirty Harry films are Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983) and The Dead Pool (1988).
These days Clint Eastwood is almost as well known as a director than he is an actor. Eastwoods other films of genre interest as director are: the female stalker film Play Misty for Me (1971); the supernatural avenger Western High Plains Drifter (1973), the hi-tech fighter plane heist Firefox (1982), the oldsters in space film Space Cowboys (2000), the psycho-thriller Blood Work (2002), Changeling (2008), a true-life story about a missing child, a police cover-up and a serial killer, and the afterlife character drama Hereafter (2010). In acting appearances, aside from most of the aforementioned, Eastwood has appeared in Revenge of the Creature (1955), Tarantula (1955), the talking mule film Francis in the Navy (1955), the twisted Southern Gothic horror The Beguiled (1971), the S&M psycho-thriller Tightrope (1984) and the Dirty Harry film The Dead Pool (1988).
The famous Do you feel lucky punk? scene here:-