Dirty Harry (film series)

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Dirty Harry
Dirty Harry.png
Created by
Original workDirty Harry (1971)
OwnerWarner Bros.
Print publications
Novel(s)List of novels
ComicsList of comics
Films and television
Video game(s)
Character(s)List of characters
PinballDirty Harry
Dirty Harry
Directed by
Written by
Produced by
StarringClint Eastwood
Edited by
Music by
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
Running time
530 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$66 million (four films, except 2)
Box office$309.9 million (worldwide)

Dirty Harry is an American neo-noir vigilante action thriller film series featuring San Francisco Police Department Homicide Division Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan. There are five films: Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983) and The Dead Pool (1988). Clint Eastwood portrayed Callahan in all five films and directed Sudden Impact.

Callahan is notorious for his unorthodox, violent and ruthless methods against the criminals and killers he is assigned to apprehend. At the same time, he is assigned a partner who is usually either killed or seriously injured during the film.


Dirty Harry (1971)[edit]

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 of the film, Callahan corners a bank robber and says, "You've got to ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?'. Well, do ya, punk?". The line became famous, although often misquoted as "Do you feel lucky, punk?"; the second movie, Magnum Force, opens with Harry asking, "Do you feel lucky?"

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]

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 good 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 a female partner with no field experience (in 1976, American women had only recently been allowed to fill patrol and investigative assignments in most police bureaus), Inspector Kate Moore (Tyne Daly), as they take on a terrorist ring calling themselves the People's Revolutionary Strike Force. Harry opposes introducing inexperienced officers to the dangers of police work, whether male or female, and sees the homicide division as too dangerous for his new partner, who worked until recently in the personnel department. Though Moore starts out overenthusiastic, she soon proves herself valuable to Harry, and matures quickly, earning Harry's respect in the process.

Sudden Impact (1983)[edit]

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]

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. Harry's catch phrase in this movie was "You're shit out of luck".

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

Cast and crew[edit]


Character Films
Dirty Harry Magnum Force The Enforcer Sudden Impact The Dead Pool
1971 1973 1976 1983 1988
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  
Lt. Neil Briggs   Hal Holbrook  
Charlie McCoy   Mitchell 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  
Capt. Jerome McKay   Bradford Dillman  
Capt. Briggs   Bradford Dillman  
Lt. Donnelly   Michael Currie
Samantha Walker   Patricia Clarkson
Peter Swan   Liam Neeson
Al Quan   Evan C. Kim
Harlan Rook   David Hunt
Johnny Squares   Jim Carrey


Critical and public response[edit]

Year Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Box office[1] Inflation adjusted (as of 2019)[1]
1971 Dirty Harry 88% (49 reviews)[2] 87 (10 reviews)[3] $35,976,000 $196,886,800
1973 Magnum Force 70% (27 reviews)[4] 58 (7 reviews)[5] $39,768,000 $202,884,200
1976 The Enforcer 69% (35 reviews)[6] 58 (7 reviews)[7] $46,236,000 $196,014,600
1983 Sudden Impact 57% (37 reviews)[8] 52 (13 reviews)[9] $67,642,693 $187,900,400
1988 The Dead Pool 55% (33 reviews)[10] 46 (15 reviews)[11] $37,903,295 $83,276,600

Influence on other productions[edit]

Sin City: That Yellow Bastard[edit]

Frank Miller, creator of the Sin City graphic novels, revealed in an interview that he created the Sin City story-arc 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."[12] Another character in That Yellow Bastard story is Nancy Callahan, named after Harry Callahan.

Bruce Willis played Hartigan, the "Dirty Harry of the story", in the Sin City (2005) film.

The Protector[edit]

This 1985 film featuring Jackie Chan was Chan's second American feature film. The movie was noted for being similar to the Dirty Harry series, with inspiration taken there from by director James Glickenhaus.

The Rookie[edit]

Directed by and co-starring Clint Eastwood; the film features an aging, tough cop who partners with a rookie cop, played by Charlie Sheen. Upon the film's release critics and audiences noted the similarities between Eastwood's two characters.[13]

Gran Torino[edit]

Eastwood returned to acting after a four-year self-imposed hiatus[14] 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".[15] 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."[16]

Tania Modleski, author of Clint Eastwood and Male Weepies, said, "[f]or many reviewers, Gran Torino represents the final step in Eastwood's repudiation of the Dirty Harry persona. If Unforgiven ends up being equivocal in its attitude toward violence and vigilantism, Gran Torino appears to accept the impotence of the lone, avenging hero" and that the impotence "is perhaps underlined by Walt's repeated gesture of pointing his finger at villains as if it were a gun."[17] Amy Biancolli of the Houston Chronicle said that though Walt, an "old fart", does not have the same name as Dirty Harry, "there's no mistaking the rasp in his voice or the uncompromising crankiness of his Weltanschauung."[18] Tom Charity of CNN said of Walt, "Like other Eastwood heroes before him, Walt sacrifices his independence by accepting that others depend on him."[19] John Serba of The Grand Rapids Press said that Walt, who is "bitter, hopelessly cranky," "shares a sense of moral certainty" with Callahan, but that Walt "is infused with the wisdom and weariness" that Callahan does not have.[20]

Home media[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 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.[21] In 2010 all five movies were released as a Blu-ray box set, "Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry Collection".

Other media[edit]


In the early 1980s, Warner Books published twelve books, authored under the pseudonym Dane Hartman, that further the adventures of Dirty Harry. The novels were later translated into French in the 1990s, as the Collection Supercops.[22]

Video games[edit]

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 film, such as a car chase, barroom brawl, defusing bombs and "Feel Lucky" mode.[23]

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 based on the 1971 film of the same name.


  1. ^ a b "Franchise: Dirty Harry". boxofficemojo.com.
  2. ^ "Dirty Harry". rottentomatoes.com. December 24, 1971.
  3. ^ "Dirty Harry". metacritic.com. December 24, 1971.
  4. ^ "Magnum Force". rottentomatoes.com. January 1, 1973.
  5. ^ "Magnum Force". metacritic.com. January 1, 1973.
  6. ^ "The Enforcer". rottentomatoes.com. January 1, 1976.
  7. ^ "The Enforcer". metacritic.com. January 1, 1976.
  8. ^ "Sudden Impact". rottentomatoes.com. January 1, 1983.
  9. ^ "Sudden Impact". metacritic.com. January 1, 1983.
  10. ^ "The Dead Pool". rottentomatoes.com. July 13, 1988.
  11. ^ "The Dead Pool". metacritic.com. July 13, 1988.
  12. ^ Robert, Daniel (August 3, 2005). "Interviews > Frank Miller Creator Of Sin City". Suicidegirls.com. Archived from the original on July 23, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  13. ^ "Variety Reviews - The Rookie - Film Reviews - - Review by Variety Staff". Variety.com. December 31, 1989. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  14. ^ Turan, Kenneth (December 12, 2008). "Review: 'Gran Torino'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 26, 2011.
  15. ^ Eliot, Marc (2009). American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. New York: Harmony Books. p. 329. ISBN 978-0-307-33688-0.
  16. ^ Dargis, Manohla (December 12, 2008). "Hope for a Racist, and Maybe a Country". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2010.
  17. ^ Modleski, Tania. "Clint Eastwood and Male Weepies." American Literary History. 2010. Volume 22, Issue 1. p. 136-158. DOI 10.1093/alh/ajp051. First published online on November 20, 2009.
  18. ^ Biancolli, Amy. "Gran Torino." Houston Chronicle. Thursday January 8, 2009. Retrieved on March 16, 2012.
  19. ^ Charity, Tom. "Review: 'Gran Torino' offers great Eastwood." CNN. January 9, 2009. 2. Retrieved on March 16, 2012.
  20. ^ Serba, John. "Scowls, subtlety make 'Gran Torino' classic Clint Eastwood." The Grand Rapids Press. Friday January 9, 2009. Retrieved on March 16, 2012.
  21. ^ "New Dirty Harry DVDs: We're in luck - DVD Spin Doctor". Dvdspindoctor.typepad.com. March 10, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  22. ^ Used book ad for the French version of The Long Death. Archived October 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "The Internet Pinball Machine Database".

External links[edit]