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Warner Home Video presents

Dirty Harry: Two-Disc Special Edition (1971)

"I know what you're thinking. 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum—the most powerful handgun in the world—and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question. 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"- Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood)

Stars: Clint Eastwood
Other Stars: Harry Guardino, John Vernon, Reni Santoni, Andy Robinson, John Larch, John Mitchum, Josef Sommer, William Paterson
Director: Don Siegel

MPAA Rating: R for (violence, language)
Run Time: 01h:42m:41s
Release Date: 2008-06-03
Genre: crime

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


DVD Review

Dirty Harry is the trendsetting cop thriller from director Don Siegel that was released in 1971 and that eventually spawned four sequels, and it not only provided one of filmdom's most quoted lines (see above), but delivered a heroic cop who cared little for the rights of criminals or any of those pesky rules and regulations. Nowadays the whole "rogue cop" concept has been done to death, yet in 1971 the "shoot first" mentality of a guy like Detective Harry Callahan was a cold hard slap to moviegoers, and as the country was still in the healing process over '60s civil unrest and assassinations, the time seemed more than right for an authority figure with a big gun.

Clint Eastwood—all shaggy-haired and young-looking—is the cynical, steely-eyed Callahan, hot on the trail of the murdering sniper named Scorpio (Andy Robinson), who has issued an ultimatum to the city of San Francisco. In between the bouts of bickering with his bosses and the mayor over rules and regs, Callahan, saddled with a new partner, does things his own way, taking out his own personal vendetta against the very evil Scorpio. In between this cat-and-mouse main storyline we're given a few other gems that solidify Callahan's "do it my way" mentality, including the signature sequence involving a daylight robbery and the "feel lucky" line, as well as his blunt honesty to a wannabe roof jumper.

Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Beguiled) uses San Francisco like a huge backlot, employing on-location landmarks as key set pieces as Callahan hunts for Scorpio. The sweeping skyline rooftop shots do more than just show off the city, they give a broad, real-life texture to the action, and as we watch there's a far greater sense that this is taking place out on the streets, and not a collection of studio settings. The troubling rogue cop/crazed killer aspect aside, I would have to imagine that a film like Dirty Harry must have done wonders for San Francisco tourism over the years.

Andy Robinson's Scorpio—sadly doomed to be forever overshadowed by the star power of Eastwood—is hardly a slouch in the bad guy department, and for my money remains one of the great, relentlessly unhinged killers of the cop genre. He's ruthless and cold, and proves that he is not shy about killing children. By the time Scorpio commandeers a school bus full of kids, we already know what he's capable of, and it wildly exaggerates the tension and suspense. In that sequence Scorpio—who leads one of the most disturbing renditions of Row, Row, Row Your Boat ever—eventually spots Callahan standing alone on an overpass. It's a beautifully shot moment that says a showdown is a-comin'—one that unfortunately turns into a somewhat clichéd leap-onto-the-roof-of-the-bus bit.

Since its release Dirty Harry has transcended the "cop" genre. It has become a larger-than-life entity. Eastwood's minimalist approach to acting allows him to say more with a single squinty stare than with a whole page of dialogue, and his thespian chops have never really been his strongest suit. It is his persona, his charisma in front of the camera, that remains so magnetic, and there's still a place for the rule-busting, pissed-off-at-bureaucracy character like Harry Callahan.

This is one part pop culture and two parts social commentary, all built around a man and a gun. A big gun.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: There's no indication on the liner notes whether the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen has been remastered, or if it is the same one offered on the 2001 release. Regardless, it is very well done, and one needs go no further than the opening sequence for evidence, with the shot of the rooftop sniper scoping out his first victim. The vivid blue of the sky in contrast with the crisp black edges of the rifle looks every bit as detailed as if it were done today. While some grain is still evident in certain sequences, the solid blacks and bright colors (especially all of those iconic San Francisco location shots) really pop at times.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrench, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio—which appears to be largely identical to the 2001 release—certainly dresses up this 1971 feature. Surround cues are moderate, and rarely appear too forced or unnatural, though clearly they are. But it is the tremendous presence of the Lalo Schifrin score that is the showcase here, and it almost seems as if the multi channel mix was done simply to show it off. Voice quality and clarity is clean, and comes across with none of the flatness typically found on films of this vintage.

Mono dubs are included in French, Japanese, Portuguese, or Spanish.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 31 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, The Dead Pool
3 Documentaries
11 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Richard Schickel
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This two-disc special edition is presented in a hinged case, which also has a thick, clear plastic slipcover with a big bullet hole that overlays the barrel of the gun on the inner case artwork.

Disc 1 carries the film, cut into 31 chapters with optional subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, or Portuguese. The Dirty Harry Trailer Gallery has previews for the feature, as well as Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, and The Dead Pool.

Included here is new commentary track from film critic Richard Schickel, one that pleasantly spends time discussing the film's mythology and how it related to the real world of 1971, instead of yet another director track pointing out what day a given scene was shot. The commentary is well worth the price of admission, and while there are a few silent gaps Schickel clearly has a great level of knowledge of the film and its history, and even points out the "jumper" scene in Dirty Harry that is considered the first sequence Eastwood directed in any feature film.

Also on Disc 1 are a couple of carryovers from the 2001 release. The Robert Urich-hosted Dirty Harry: The Original (29m:41s) takes a look at how important a film and character like this was at the time, using interview segments from a number of cast and crew from various Dirty Harry projects. Similarly, the Interview Gallery appears to be leftover bits from that doc, featuring additional input from Patricia Clarkson (02m:03s), Joel Cox (03m:32s), Clint Eastwood (05m:40s), Hal Holbrook (:42s), Evan Kim (02m:07s), John Milius (03m:43s), Ted Post (01m:39s), Andy Robinson (02m:03s), Arnold Schwarzenegger (03m:01s), and Robert Urich (02m:39s). The vintage Dirty Harry's Way (07m:03s) is a fuzzy and fluffy 1971 promo piece that tries to be gritty.

Over on Disc 2 are a pair of docs, both appearing for the first time on a Dirty Harry release. The Long Shadow Of Dirty Harry (25m:28s) is an updated history lesson, as well as a nostalgic look back by people like Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces), David Ayer (Training Day), actor Michael Madsen, and a gaggle of other writer/directors/actors who talk about the importance and influence of Dirty Harry. Clint Eastwood: The Man From Malpaso (58m:04s) is a 1993 bio of Eastwood, made up of clips from his career to that point, balanced by interviews and a general sense of awe from all involved.

Extras Grade: B+

Final Comments

Consider this one of the veritable classics that reinvented the cop genre in 1971. It is also so much more than just that famous line, and all the daring political incorrectness of a hero like Harry Callahan is still exciting and refreshing 35 years later.

This new two-disc special edition may not be wholly necessary if you already own the 2001 release, unless you're hankering for a couple of additional Eastwood bonus features and an insightful historical commentary from Richard Schickel. The transfer remains quite striking for a film of this age, and the thrill of seeing Eastwood-as-Callahan casually strolling towards that wounded perp with his .44 drawn and ready to utter the "feel lucky" rap never gets old.

Highly recommended.

Rich Rosell 2008-06-02