Dirty Harry Review

This review was originally posted for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon, hosted by Tranquil Dreams and me.

Dirty Harry movie posterSynopsis
When a killer calling himself ‘Scorpio’ (Andrew Robinson) begins terrorizing San Francisco, Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) must bring him to justice.

Clint Eastwood is a household name. To older audiences, he’s an action star. To younger audiences, he’s an award-winning director. In either case, it is hard to find an actor whose career is as prolific or diverse as Eastwood’s. In the early 1970s, he was transitioning from his western roles to more modern day ones. That transition began with Dirty Harry.

Many action movies tend to forego character development to instead focus on the big action pieces. Dirty Harry isn’t much of an exception but just barely. Throughout the film, we learn little bits and pieces about Harry’s past and character traits. We get just enough character development to get a deeper understanding of who Harry is. This was a great move on the writers’ part because since this is the first installment with Harry, there shouldn’t be too much focus on what’s beneath the surface. But at the same time, the small bits that were laid out can be picked up in future sequels without taking away from this film.

For most of the movie, Harry spends his time hunting down the killer going by ‘Scorpio.’ However, Scorpio is not Harry’s greatest adversary of the film: it’s the law. Throughout the movie, Harry tries to bring Scorpio to justice. However, Harry learns that ‘the law’ and ‘justice’ are not always the same thing. It’s an interesting concept to think about and one that frustrates Harry continuously throughout the film.

Eastwood’s background in westerns transfers well into a modern setting. Harry could be seen as the Man with No Name or Josey Wales in an urban setting; An urban cowboy, if you will. Harry’s introduction is one of my favorites in cinema. When he casually walks up to a bank robbery, takes out several of the robbers and delivers his famous lines is absolutely spin-tingling. You know right away the kind of character Harry is.

This also leads into one of the flaws I see in the film. For an action movie, it is unevenly paced. The ends carry the brunt of the action, with the middle doing the little character exploring I mentioned above and follows Harry searching for Scorpio and dealing with bureaucrats. I appreciate the development and smaller moments among the action but this film would have benefited from a better balance of those elements.

As enjoyable as Dirty Harry is, there are better 70s movies. Nevertheless, I chose this as my entry for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon for a different reason: it’s influence on the action film genre. This movie laid the groundwork for a no-nonsense hero, like John McClain, John Rambo, or Paul Kersey. Harry Callahan was the type of character who took matters into his own hands, regardless of the rules. This approach to the action hero showed that audiences would, and could, enjoy grittier action films, fundamentally changing the genre’s landscape.

I thought Dirty Harry was GOOD πŸ™‚ Revolutionizing the action genre, it was grittier and had a different hero than seen in films past. With a cool character introduction and classic action hero one-liners, Harry Callahan is a stylish and memorable character. If there had been a better balance between the action sequences and other scenes, I probably would consider this a great movie instead of just a good one.

Favorite Quote
Harry: 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’ve kinda lost track myself. But being 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?


Cast & Crew
Don Siegel – Director
Harry Julian Fink – Screenplay / Story
Rita M. Fink – Screenplay / Story
Dean Riesner – Screenplay
Lalo Schifrin – Composer

Clint Eastwood – Harry
Harry Guardino – Bressler
Reni Santoni – Chico
John Vernon – The Mayor
Andrew Robinson – Killer
John Larch – Chief
John Mitchum – De Giorgio

Movie Quote of the Week -6/2/17

Answer to MWL 5/31/17: Blondie (Clint Eastwood) – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig. -Blondie

Thanks for everyone’s submissions and one poncho to the following people for answering correctly:

SG (Rhyme and Reason)

Movie Quote of the Week – 6/19/15

Answer to MWL 6/17/15: Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) – Dirty Harry

Uh-uh. 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 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 you, punk? -Harry Callahan

Thanks for everyone’s submissions and congratulations to the following people for answering correctly:

Rob (Movierob)
Kira (Film and TV 101)
That Other Critic (That Other Critic)
Cindy (Cindy Brachman)
Jay (Assholes Watching Movies)
Dr. Humpp (Dr. Humpp’s Curious Collection)
A Movie-cation (A movie-cation)
Tim (Filmfunkel)
Marta (Ramblings of a Cinefile)

Lightning Review: American Sniper

Review #99

American Sniper movie posterSynopsis
US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) becomes a legend for his skills as a sniper. But when he is home with his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), he has a hard time leaving the war behind.

There has been much controversy around American Sniper but I’m not going to get into all that. This is strictly going to be a review about this film as a piece of cinema. Now to be honest, the only reason I was interested in seeing this film was because it is directed by Clint Eastwood. Biopics aren’t usually my cup of tea but I must say that I rather enjoyed this film. Eastwood knew how to utilize the environment (both in and out of combat) to create tension. I constantly found myself needing to relax in my seat. Say what you want about this film, this is Bradley Cooper’s movie. He completely gets into the role of Chris Kyle and may be my favorite performance of his I’ve seen. Sienna Miller was great, too. Other than GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, I haven’t seen any of her other movies, so I think I may be checking those out if I find the time. American Sniper is just as intense out of the action than in it, albeit more subtly, making it one unique movie experience.



Cast & Crew
Clint Eastwood – Director
Jason Hall – Writer

Bradley Cooper – Chris Kyle
Sienna Miller – Taya
Kyle Gallner – Goat-Winston
Keir O’Donnell – Jeff Kyle
Ben Reed – Wayne Kyle
Cole Konis – Young Chris Kyle
Luke Sunshine – Young Jeff Kyle
Elise Robertson – Debbie Kyle
Kevin Lacz – Dauber
Jake McDorman – Biggles
Cory Hardrict – Dandridge
Eric Ladin – Case
Luke Grimes – Marc Lee
Sammy Sheik – Mustafa
Luis Jose Lopez – Sanchez
Brian Hallisay – Capt. Gallespie
Navid Negahban – Sheikh Al-Obodi
Mido Hamada – The Butcher
Max Charles – Colton
Madeleine McGraw – McKenna

Million Dollar Baby Review

Million Dollar Baby movie posterSynopsis
Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran boxing trainer who has never had a boxer in a title match.Β  He isn’t fond of training women, either. But when his best friend, Eddie Dupris (Morgan Freeman), insists on training the persistent Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), Frankie takes her under his wing. Working together, Frankie and Maggie work towards their dreams of a championship, forging an unbreakable bond in the process.

Every once in a while a movie comes along that leaves an impression on you long after the credits have rolled. For me that was Million Dollar Baby. I first saw this more recently, even though it came out way back in 2004. It’s too bad I didn’t see it sooner because I had no idea what I was missing.

Million Dollar Baby is a movie about boxing, but it doesn’t follow the conventions of other boxing movies, or at least the last act doesn’t. This film starts off like similar movies, showing the rise of the boxer, their training, and some of their matches. But something happens that catches you (or at least me) by surprise and really changes the tone of the whole movie. It’s in these final thirty minutes or so that have some of the best character moments in the entire film.

Easily the strongest aspect of this film is how well the characters are fleshed out. Over the course of the movie, we learn a great deal about Frankie, Maggie, and Eddie. And not just their backstories, but who they are as people and the motivations behind their actions. By the end of the Million Dollar Baby, I felt a relationship with the characters that I don’t usually get when watching a movie.

There is not one bad performance in this movie. Eastwood is normally known for more action-oriented roles, but he does phenomenal in this quieter role. He just seems to get better and better as he’s grown older. Freeman is always great in any role he plays and I am a fan of a Freeman voiceover. The biggest surprise was Swank. Granted, I haven’t seen very many of her movies, but after watching this one, I look forward to watching her again. Even the lesser seen supporting cast, like Anthony Mackie and Jay Baruchel were great.

I have mentioned before how much a good score can add to a movie. Usually it’s very big and dramatic, but the score of Million Dollar baby is much more subdued and simple. The score, surprisingly composed by Eastwood, is still dramatic, but in a different fashion. It consists mostly of a single acoustic guitar or piano that is very much in line with the feel of the movie but it is every bit as emotional as the full orchestral scores.

Cinematography isn’t something I normally bring up, but I would have a hard time talking about this movie with discussing about the cinematography. There is a great use of shadows and lighting. During the boxing matches, the camera gets close to the action, but too close that you can’t see much. It’s really great work that I think few movies can compare to.

I missed Million Dollar Baby when it was released in 2004 and when I finally did see it, I regretted not seeing it sooner. The characterization is brilliantly written and it’s easy to become invested in the characters and their struggles. It is hard to pick a stand out performance because every actor was fantastic, even the supporting cast. A simple but fitting score and top notch cinematography enhance the experience even further. If you want a movie that has great acting, excellent characterization, and superb cinematography, then Million Dollar Baby is the movie for you.



Cast & Crew
Clint Eastwood – Director
Paul Haggis – Screenplay
F.X. Toole – Stories from Rope Burns
Clint Eastwood – Composer

Clint Eastwood – Frankie Dunn
Hilary Swank – Maggie Fitzgerald
Morgan Freeman – Eddie Dupris
Anthony Mackie – Shawrelle Berry
Jay Baruchel – Danger Barch
Brian F. O’Byrne – Father Horvak
Margo Martindale – Earline Fitzgerald
Michael Pena – Omar