Wednesday 28 March 2012

Dirty Harry [1971]

Frank Sinatra was offered the role of the protagonist in Don Siegel’s seminal cop thriller Dirty Harry, as were John Wayne, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. It was eventually bequeathed to Clint Eastwood, and the rest, as they say, is history, as this turned out as, alongside ‘Man with No Name’ in Sergio Leone’s ‘Dollar Trilogy’, the most iconic role of his career. ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan is a laconic, loner and no-nonsense police officer who deplores criminals from the bottom of his gut, and is game for disobeying his superiors, breaking a law or two, and taking extreme measures to stop them. Thus, with his 44 Magnum, which he proudly refers to as “the most powerful handgun in the world”, as his trusted sidekick, he goes about bringing down a psychopathic maniac who is extorting the city of San Francisco for big money in return for stopping his murderous rampage. The film can be construed as a direct assault against the punk and hippie culture that had left many conservatives shaken during the Vietnam-era (interestingly, Harry’s favourite line, after catching criminals, is, “You've got to ask yourself a question, “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?”) – some had even found the film “fascist”. Nevertheless, it became a roaring popular success for its anti-establishmentarian spirit and its spectacular depiction of vigilante justice – interestingly, two more films with similar themes also became huge hits the same year, viz. The French Connection and Get Carter. This visceral, violent and edgy movie, which was brilliantly paced and edited, and was aided by a thumping score, spawned a number of sequels as expected.

Director: Don Siegel
Genre: Thriller/Crime Thriller/Action/Police Film
Language: English
Country: US

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