Dirty Harry (film series)

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Dirty Harry is the name of a series of films and novels featuring fictional San Francisco Police Department Homicide Division Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan who is notorious for being extremely violent and ruthless in his methods, and a danger for any partner assigned to him. Actor Clint Eastwood portrayed Inspector Harry Callahan in all five of the movies.

Dirty Harry films[edit]

Dirty Harry (1971)[edit]

Main article: Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry (1971) was directed by Don Siegel and starred Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan. Harry tracks serial killer Scorpio (loosely based on the Zodiac killer). Eastwood's iconic portrayal of the blunt-speaking, unorthodox detective set the style for a number of his subsequent roles, and its box-office success led to the production of four sequels. The "alienated cop" motif was subsequently imitated by a number of other films. At the beginning and end of the film, Callahan corners a criminal and says, "You've got to ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" (The line is often misquoted as "Do you feel lucky, punk?")

This movie became iconic, mirrored by other movies, especially the rest of the Dirty Harry films, because it was a portrayal of social protests, pointing out that it was easier for the justice system to protect potential suspects ahead of enforcing the rights of victims while ignoring citizens who were in danger or who had been murdered. It was the fourth-highest grossing film of 1971 after Fiddler on the Roof, The French Connection, and Diamonds Are Forever.

Magnum Force (1973)[edit]

Main article: Magnum Force

Magnum Force (1973) was directed by Ted Post. The main theme of this film is vigilante justice, and the plot revolves around a group of renegade traffic cops who are executing criminals who have avoided conviction in court. Despite Harry's penchant for strong-arm methods, he does not tolerate coldblooded murder of the accused and resolves to stop the killers. In this film, Harry's catch-phrase is "A man's got to know his limitations."

The Enforcer (1976)[edit]

The Enforcer (1976) was directed by James Fargo. In this film, Harry is teamed with an inexperienced female partner Kate Moore (Tyne Daly), and takes on a terrorist ring calling themselves the People's Revolutionary Strike Force. Harry opposes introducing inexperienced inspectors to the dangers of police work, whether male or female, and sees the homicide department as too dangerous for his new partner, who worked until recently in Records. He has nothing against female police officers; he simply feels that Moore is too green. However, "by the book" Inspector Moore, though starting out overenthusiastic, proves herself valuable, and matures quickly, earning Harry's respect in the process.

Sudden Impact (1983)[edit]

Main article: Sudden Impact

Sudden Impact (1983) was directed by Clint Eastwood. Aging, but still bitter, Callahan is sent to a small town to follow up a lead in a murder case, which leads him directly to a rape victim who is out to avenge herself and her catatonic sister by killing the people who sexually assaulted them. The film is notable for Callahan's catchphrase, "Go ahead, make my day".

The Dead Pool (1988)[edit]

Main article: The Dead Pool

The Dead Pool (1988) was directed by Buddy Van Horn. Harry finds that he is among the subjects of a dead pool, a game betting on deaths of celebrities. Someone tries to rig the game by killing the celebrities on one player's list.

After this film, Eastwood retired from playing the Dirty Harry character, as he felt his age (58 in 1988) would make Harry a parody.


Character Film
Dirty Harry Magnum Force The Enforcer Sudden Impact The Dead Pool
Harry Callahan Clint Eastwood
Frank DiGiorgio John Mitchum  
The Mayor John Vernon   John Crawford  
Al Bressler Harry Guardino   Harry Guardino  
Scorpio Andy Robinson  
Chico Gonzalez Reni Santoni  
Bank Robber Albert Popwell  
Neil Briggs   Hal Holbrook  
Charlie McCoy   Mitch Ryan  
John Davis   David Soul  
Red Astrachan   Kip Niven  
Mike Grimes   Robert Urich  
Phil Sweet   Tim Matheson  
Earlington "Early" Smith   Felton Perry  
J.J. Wilson   Albert Popwell  
Kate Moore   Tyne Daly  
Bobby Maxwell   DeVeren Bookwalter  
Lalo   Michael Cavanaugh  
Karl   Dick Durock  
Abdul   Kenneth Boyd  
Miki   Jocelyn Jones  
Father John   M. G. Kelly  
Big Ed Mustapha   Albert Popwell  
Jennifer Spencer   Sondra Locke  
Mick   Paul Drake  
Ray Perkins   Audrie J. Neenan  
Lester Jannings   Pat Hingle  
Horace King   Albert Popwell  
Samantha Walker   Patricia Clarkson
Peter Swan   Liam Neeson
Al Quan   Evan C. Kim
Harlan Rook   David Hunt
Johnny Squares   Jim Carrey


Film Rotten Tomatoes
Dirty Harry 95%[1]
Magnum Force 80%[2]
The Enforcer 78%[3]
Sudden Impact 56%[4]
The Dead Pool 52%

Dirty Harry-inspired works[edit]

Frank Miller's Sin City: That Yellow Bastard[edit]

Main article: That Yellow Bastard

Frank Miller, creator of the Sin City graphic novels, revealed in an interview that he created the Sin City story That Yellow Bastard out of his dislike of The Dead Pool. Miller said: "When I went to see the last Dirty Harry movie, The Dead Pool, I was disgusted. I went out and said, this is not a Dirty Harry movie, this is nothing, this is a pale sequel." and I also said, "that's not the last Dirty Harry story, I will show you the last Dirty Harry story."[5]

Bruce Willis played Hartigan, the Dirty Harry of the story, when That Yellow Bastard was included in the film version of Sin City released in 2005. Another character in That Yellow Bastard is Nancy, who had no surname in the four previous comic books, but in That Yellow Bastard she is given the surname Callahan. Hartigan's character is more of a pastiche or caricature with Miller's own elements of characterization and development.

The Protector[edit]

This 1985 film featuring Jackie Chan was Chan's second American movie. It is similar to the Dirty Harry series and the director, James Glickenhaus, had tried to make Chan's character as similar to Dirty Harry as possible. It ended up being a commercial failure, and Chan largely regretted ever making this film.

The Rookie[edit]

The film, also directed by Eastwood, stars Clint Eastwood as Nick Pulovski, an aging, tough cop who partners with a younger cop, played by Charlie Sheen. Reviewers noted the similarities between Eastwood's characters Callahan and Pulovski.[6]

Gran Torino[edit]

Main article: Gran Torino

Eastwood returned to acting after a four-year self-imposed hiatus[7] in this 2008 film, which he also directed, produced, and partly scored with his son Kyle and Jamie Cullum. Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a recently widowed Korean War veteran alienated from his family and angry at the world. Walt's young neighbor, Thao Vang Lor, is pressured into stealing Walt's prized 1972 Ford Gran Torino by his cousin for his initiation into a gang. Walt thwarts the theft and subsequently develops a relationship with the boy and his family.

Biographer Marc Eliot called Eastwood's role "an amalgam of the Man with No Name, Dirty Harry, and William Munny, here aged and cynical, but willing and able to fight on whenever the need arose".[8] Manohla Dargis compared Eastwood's presence on film to Dirty Harry and the Man with No Name, stating, "Dirty Harry is back, in a way, in Gran Torino, not as a character but as a ghostly presence. He hovers in the film, in its themes and high-caliber imagery, and of course most obviously in Mr. Eastwood’s face. It is a monumental face now, so puckered and pleated that it no longer looks merely weathered, as it has for decades, but seems closer to petrified wood."[9]

Dirty Harry DVDs and Blu-ray[edit]

Warner Home Video owns rights to the Dirty Harry series. The five films have been remastered for DVD three times — in 1998, 2001 and 2008. They have been packaged in several DVD box sets. The Dirty Harry films made their high-definition debuts with the 2008 Blu-ray discs. Warner's marketing plan calls for only the "The Dead Pool" film to be available as a separate Blu-ray, requiring fans who want the other four movies in high definition to buy the box set.[10] In 2010 all five movies were released as a Blu-ray box set, "Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry Collection".

Dirty Harry and Collection Supercops novel series[edit]

Main article: Dirty Harry novels

In the early 1980s, Warner Books published twelve books, authored under the pseudonym Dane Hartman, that further the adventures of Dirty Harry.

The Dirty Harry films were translated into French in the 1990s, as the Collection Supercops.[11]

Dirty Harry # 1: Duel for Cannons[edit]

"Dirty Harry" Callahan blasts his way from the mean streets of San Francisco to the blazing byways of San Antonio. His target — a crime boss who's got the whole town, including the cops, under his thumb. Harry's all alone now, with nothing but a .44 Magnum and a bagful of dirty tricks between him and instant death! (Published September 1981; French translation, Duel a mort, published in 1994)

Dirty Harry # 2: Death on the Docks[edit]

There are some guys in this world even dirtier than Harry Callahan — like union czar Matt Braxton, the biggest deal on the docks. He's corrupt enough to be cozy with the Mob, rich enough to afford friends in the highest places, and ruthless enough to kill anything that stands in his way. Dirty Harry's standing there all right, and he doesn't intend to give an inch. (Published September 1982; French translation, Meurtres sur les quais, published in 1994)

Dirty Harry # 3: The Long Death[edit]

Someone is grabbing young women from the bars, campuses, and streets of San Francisco and doing unspeakable things to their minds and bodies. Someone is setting up cops against black nationalists in a violent inter-city war, playing both sides for bloody fools. Someone is looking for deadly trouble when a gorgeous policewoman baits "Dirty Harry" Callahan into a showdown that can only be settled with bare fists and Magnum lead! (Published December 1981; French translation, Mort lente, published in 1994)

Dirty Harry # 4: The Mexico Kill[edit]

Not even losing his badge can keep "Dirty Harry" Callahan away from Magnum-powered action. Now Harry's working for a millionaire, and battling dope-running sea pirates from San Francisco to Mexico's heroin-packed shores. Behind the scenes and the big guns is his old enemy Father Nick. An underworld kingpin and ex-con, Nick can't let the past die, and Harry won't let the mobsters live! (Published March 1982; French translation, Massacre au Mexique, published in 1994)

Dirty Harry # 5: Family Skeletons[edit]

"Dirty Harry" Callahan stalks a mass murderer through Boston's infamous underworld where crooked cops are usually looking the other way. Once it was the Boston Strangler now the killer has a knife and is carving up college girls. Dirty Harry will slice through the slime to find him. (Published April 1982; French translation, Panique sur la ville, published in 1994)

Dirty Harry # 6: City of Blood[edit]

Winos brutally slain on San Francisco's skid row. Beautiful young women butchered in the act of sex by a perverted killer. The acts of two men, or one? Not even Dirty Harry knows. But he's going to find out, if he has to break every law to do it. From `Frisco's sexual underground to the boardrooms in the city's sky, Harry plunges into a blood-streaked manhunt that will leave only one survivor. (Published April 1982; French translation, Panique sur la ville, published in 1994)

Dirty Harry # 7: Massacre at Russian River[edit]

A lot of grass — the illegal kind — grows in the hills of Northern California. Where there's marijuana, there's money. Where there's money, there's murder. And where there's murder, there's Dirty Harry. In a wilderness where even the local cops are criminal, Harry must live, and kill, by a law higher than the law of the land — his own. (Published July 1982; French translation, Marijuana, published in 1995)

Dirty Harry # 8: Hatchet Men[edit]

From the hills of San Francisco to the towers of Chicago, a savage struggle for power rages between the Japanese and Chinese mobsters, expert killers with hand, sword, or gun. Then they kidnap Harry Callahan's beautiful, part-time lover. Enter the dragon, Dirty Harry, Magnum blazing! (Published August 1982; French translation, Du sang sur Chinatown, published in 1995)

Dirty Harry # 9: The Killing Connection[edit]

Anything goes in San Francisco, but now it's gone too far! Somebody is carving up beautiful lesbians — and that somebody has the right friends. Only Harry can stop the slaughter, but now both the gays and the cops stand in his way. Will he have time? The answer is at the end of a barrel — a .44 Magnum barrel! (Published October 1982; French translation, Tueur de femmes, published in 1995)

Dirty Harry # 10: Blood of Strangers[edit]

Terrorists! Airports and public places are their stage. Civilians are their targets. The spread of chaos is their game. Now Dirty Harry wants to play — for keeps. On battlefields from Frisco to Beirut to El Salvador, in the company of a beautiful television newswoman, he leaves a trail of hot blood and bullets as he searches beyond the Libyan connection for the source of this savagery. Dirty Harry, breaking every law to get the criminals, making his law to fit the crime. (Published December 1982)

Dirty Harry # 11: Death in the Air[edit]

The Magnum-powered action doesn't stop for Dirty Harry, not even on Christmas Eve. Now Harry's after a killer who celebrates the holiday season by shoving women beneath the wheels of speeding subway trains. But when he unmasks the killer as a hit-man for a renegade government scientist, Harry himself is marked for death. With the most powerful handgun ever made in his hands, Harry must blow that scientist to kingdom come or never live to see the New Year himself. (Published February 1983)

Dirty Harry # 12: The Dealer of Death[edit]

That's what the papers are calling Dirty Harry. Someone who's no friend of Harry has stolen his prize Magnum revolver and is blasting some of his worst enemies out of this world. Harry wants to get his name clean, his gun back, and put an end to the "dead man" who's playing Harry's hand in a game of life and death. (Published April 1983)

This would be the last Dirty Harry novel, as no further novels were made after Sudden Impact (1983) opened in theaters eight months later.

Dirty Harry video games[edit]

Dirty Harry: The War Against Drugs is a 1990 video game based on Dirty Harry film series. It incorporates several references to the film series. Dirty Harry, originally scheduled for a 2007 release, is a canceled video game by The Collective, Inc. based on the 1971 film of the same name.

In 1995 Williams Electronic Games (WMS) created a Dirty Harry pinball machine, inspired by the 1971 film. 4,248 units were manufactured. Notable features include a gun handle shooter, a moving cannon used to shoot playfield targets and custom audio callouts recorded by Clint Eastwood. Game modes, sounds and dot matrix animations reflect events in the movie, such as a car chase, barroom brawl, defusing bombs and "Feel Lucky" mode. [12]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Dirty Harry". 24 December 1971. 
  2. ^ "Magnum Force". 1 January 1973. 
  3. ^ "The Enforcer". 1 January 1976. 
  4. ^ "Sudden Impact". 1 January 1983. 
  5. ^ Robert, Daniel (2005-08-03). "Interviews > Frank Miller Creator Of Sin City". Suicidegirls.com. Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  6. ^ "Variety Reviews - The Rookie - Film Reviews - - Review by Variety Staff". Variety.com. 1989-12-31. Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  7. ^ Turan, Kenneth (December 12, 2008). "Review: 'Gran Torino'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 11, 2010. 
  8. ^ Eliot, Marc (2009). American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. New York: Harmony Books. p. 329. ISBN 978-0-307-33688-0. 
  9. ^ Dargis, Manohla (December 12, 2008). "Hope for a Racist, and Maybe a Country". New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  10. ^ "New Dirty Harry DVDs: We're in luck - DVD Spin Doctor". Dvdspindoctor.typepad.com. 2008-03-10. Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  11. ^ Used book ad for the French version of The Long Death.
  12. ^ "The Internet Pinball Machine Database".