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Warner Home Video presents
Dirty Harry (1971)

"Well, when an adult male is chasing a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard. That's my policy."
- Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood)

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: November 29, 2001

Stars: Clint Eastwood
Other Stars: Harry Guardino, Rene Santoni, Andy Robinson, John Larch, John Vernon
Director: Don Siegel

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for language, violence
Run Time: 01h:42m:08s
Release Date: November 20, 2001
UPC: 085392151622
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- BB+B+ A-

DVD Review

Throughout the course of film history there have been many characters that have cemented the actors who played them into pop culture history. Whether the film is an enormous success or a sizeable dud, actors including Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator and Bruce Campbell (the Evil Dead trilogy) made their names in breakthrough roles that they have made their own. But for every newcomer that takes America by storm each year there is still the ultimate story of Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry series. Known mainly for a string of low-budget western films, a forty-one-year-old Eastwood took the role of tough San Francisco cop Harry Callahan only after Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, and John Wayne passed it up.

As it turns out, taking a chance on Eastwood paid off, as the film is considered one of the best cop thrillers ever made and has been parodied in countless pictures since its release. Since playing Harry Callahan, Eastwood has gone on to become a hugely popular actor, as well as one of the most talented directors in Hollywood.

As Dirty Harry opens, the city of San Francisco is in the midst of dealing with a sniper named Scorpio who promises to kill one person a day until he is paid two hundred thousand dollars. Enter Detective Harry Callahan (known as Dirty Harry as he "always gets the dirty jobs"), a rogue cop who feels the best way to catch and interrogate a suspect is to beat the truth out of them and obtain information by any way possible. After shooting a woman as she swims, Scorpio is soon hunted by Callahan, who is himself at odds with the Mayor (Vernon) when he refuses to pay the money up front and buy time for the police to catch up with Scorpio. Not content with playing the bagman for the Mayor, Harry takes the money to Scorpio, but after learning of the killers plans he decides to go against his superiors and kill Scorpio on his own.

It is a safe bet that had Dirty Harry been made in 2001 rather than 1971, the popularity of a rogue cop would have been met with great resistance. But produced in a time when police brutality had not yet reared its ugly head, Dirty Harry took America by storm with its lone wolf cop and his own cure for injustice. That said, there is something about the Dirty Harry series that brings a thrill to nearly every male (and maybe female) in seeing Harry take down crooks in his own way with total disregard for the rules.

The greatest reason for the popularity, and the largest factor in why there have been four sequels, is Eastwood's portrayal of Harry Callahan. As he moves through the film, there is an electric intensity in nearly everything he does. From his strong-willed ways to his soft yet harsh way of speaking, Eastwood is at his best. There is something infinitely appealing about Eastwood's performance; in the way that he often speaks volumes without saying a word.

As most avid moviegoers will tell you, the worst part about the cop thriller genre is that often there fails to be a matched intensity between the hero and the villain. In Dirty Harry, actor Andrew Robinson crafts one of the better villains in movie history with his role as Scorpio, a psychotic sniper suffering from paranoia.

Shooting on location, director Don Siegel uses the beautiful vistas of the city to the films advantage, as in the opening pull back from a roof top swimming pool that transitions into Scorpio looming from a nearby building. Known mainly for low-grade science fiction pictures, Siegel does a masterful job of moving through the streets of San Francisco and his direction in the city has yet to be matched by other filmmakers.

Remembered more for Eastwood's big break and for its classic lines than for being a terrifically made police thriller, Dirty Harry serves as a welcome reminder that there can be life breathed into the dying cop thriller genre.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Before watching the new release of Dirty Harry from Warner Bros., I popped in the original disc released some three years ago. That disc suffered from excessive grain and film flaws as well as a rather soft look with poor colors; luckily each of those problems have been removed for this new release. Presented in its original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, this anamorphic transfer shows noticeable improvements right off the bat with the sparkling water of the swimming pool as well as the amazing detail and sharpness seen in the San Francisco skyline. Colors are vastly improved, as are black levels that are very strong with little grain, which was not the case in the previous release. This is a great transfer considering the film is now thirty years old.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for Dirty Harry is also improved from the previous release. Lalo Schifrin's score sounds more full in the new mix, and ambient effects are not as muted as they were before. Dialogue is crisp with nice depth and no harshness while the front speakers create nice separation for a nice sounding mix.

A French mono track is also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 31 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Interview Gallery
  2. Memorable Lines
Extras Review: Dirty Harry: the Original is the most notable extra feature on this special edition disc from Warner Bros. Hosted by Robert Urich, this documentary examines the events surrounding the release of Dirty Harry in the midst of controversy, as well as the effects of the picture in future action films. Interviews with Eastwood and other cast members are scattered throughout, making this a very fulfilling documentary that is thankfully less self-congratulatory than some retrospectives are. A shorter documentary titled Dirty Harry's Way is the original featurette from the 1971 release.

More an extension of the documentary than anything else, Interview Gallery is a series of interviews that seem to be cut footage from Dirty Harry: The Original , though to see Eastwood talk about the film is a pleasure.

The original theatrical trailer, production notes, as well as a Memorable Lines text screen round out the extra features.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

A vast improvement over the movie-only release, pressed during DVD's infancy, the Clint Eastwood Collection release of Dirty Harry is one for your library. The film looks great and the new documentary is wonderful in its covering of nearly everything you might want to know about the film. Recommended.


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