Articles & Notes — June 5, 2016 at 10:36 pm

9 interesting facts about “Dirty Harry” films


By Tim Tal

Clint Eastwood is lucky – not only he made it to the top as an actor, he also built himself a solid reputation as a director. Two of the films he directed (and starred in) – “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby” won 4 Oscars.

To some, Eastwood remains best known for his character “Dirty” Harry Callahan, a tough 70’s San Francisco cop, who takes sh*t from no one, does things his own way and is a true menace to crime in the city. The original Dirty Harry film spanned four sequels.

Below is a collection of interesting observations from the whole “Dirty Harry” franchise.

– The action fans know inspector Harry Callahan as “Dirty Harry” – a hard-as-nails cop who always does the job no one wants to do. Meanwhile, “dirty” also gives different meanings. With the nickname “dirty” Harry could’ve easily been a pervert or a crooked cop. Why not name him “Magnum Harry” or something?

– Harry Callahan seems to have been on the force for quite some time, at least since 1971 up to 1988. That is 17 years, and if we consider that Harry was no rookie back in 1971, it is safe to say he’s had about 20 years on the force, at least. In 20 years (throughout five films) Harry never receives a promotion. He’s “inspector Callahan” within those 17 years. He does get suspended, screamed on, fined, taken off cases, but never promoted. For everything he has done – not once he got promoted.

– In all of the franchise, Harry has never had a formidable opponent. Dirty Harry’s most vivid and memorable antagonist remains Scorpio, from the first film. Considering that Harry is as manly as a 70’s cop could be, Scorpio is anything but manly. With that said, Harry never faces anyone like, for example, Rambo.

– In the first film Harry has no interest in females. We only get a brief info on him being a widower. This could explain why he isn’t much of a talker or has any interest in women. In the second film, “Magnum Force”, the problem gets deeper as Callahan at one time makes a remark: “If they could all shoot like that, I would care if the whole department was queer”. To make sure the audience wouldn’t think Harry was gay, the film has one of the most out-of-place scenes in all Dirty Harry movies: a girl comes up to Harry and asks what does a girl need to do to sleep with him? A few minutes later, Harry ends up in bed with her. The story with the girl never gets any development and could’ve been easily cut out from the film. The guess is that it was kept just to prove Harry still had interest in women.

– In every “Dirty Harry” film there are scenes shot on the streets of San Francisco – mostly crime scenes or chase scenes. In every one of these scenes we see a bunch of people staring at the camera in the background.

– Callahan is evolving with each new film, he becomes more sociable, both in relation to women and his partners.

– Albert Popwell appears in the original “Dirty Harry” film as a bank robber to whom Harry delivers his most famous lines. Later, Popwell appears as completely different characters in “Magnum Force” and “The Enforcer”.

– While the franchise cannot boast any action scenes that would satisfy a modern action fan, the “Dead Pool” features a super-cool action scene with Harry and his partner in a police car, trying to escape… a remote-controlled minicar patched with an explosive.

– Clint Eastwood’s son Scott Eastwood looks so much like his dad, that “Dirty Harry” could easily be remade, be turned into a tv-series, or even made into a prequel.

Believe it or not, there are still people who have no idea who “Dirty” Harry Callahan is. He may have not been your best friend in real life, but the films on him are definitely worth checking out.

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