Dirty Harry (1971) [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Thriller
Warner Brothers || R - 102 minutes - $34.99 || June 3, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-06-07


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Don Siegel
Writer(s): Harry Julian Fink & Rita M. Fink and Dean Riesner (screenplay)
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni, John Vernon, Andy Robinson, John Larch, John Mitchum


Theatrical Release Date: December 23, 1971


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Historian Commentary
  • The Long Shadow of Dirty Harry
  • Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows
  • Clint Eastwood: The Man from Malpaso
  • Interview Gallery
  • Dirty Harry's Way
  • Dirty Harry: The Original
  • Dirty Harry Movies Trailer Gallery


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Mono), Spanish (Dolby Mono), German (Dolby Mono), Italian (Dolby Mono), Japanese (Dolby Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Dirty Harry isn’t just the icon film of the 70s but an icon period. It belongs with the likes of The French Connection, Bullitt and Lethal Weapon. Dirty Harry isn’t just a gritty cop movie, it is THE gritty cop movie, and a film that I believe would not be made today. No, it’s not because of the violence or questionable morals (see: Saw 1 - ?) but it’s a movie with a central character that would be considered a champion for the NRA and a nightmare for Berkeley liberals. And it makes no apologies either. There’s no revelation or change that the character goes through at the end. Of course, I could be looking into it more than I should. Tearing Dirty Harry down to the basics, it is an adrenaline tour de force. Nuff said.

Legend Clint Eastwood stars as Harry Callahan, a San Francisco Police Inspector who received his nickname, “Dirty Harry” because he’s that guy the bosses stick him with “Every dirty job that comes along”. In the first installment in the franchise, we find Callahan hunting down a psychotic serial killer, a man who writes letters to police, taunting them and will, almost at random, take someone out with a sniper rifle (the killer is not-so-loosely based upon the Zodiac Killer).

But in between Callahan’s hunt for the killer, we get to know him as the gritty, gruff police inspector we all know and love. One instance finds Callahan asked to talk down a man threatening to commit suicide. His way of defusing the situation is surprising and funny as hell at the same time. Obviously, Mel Gibson’s character from Lethal Weapon took a cue from ole Harry Callahan.

Nevertheless it is the hunt that turns this cop suspense-drama to a whole new level. While director Don Siegel makes good use of the score by Lalo Schifrin, it is when you can hear only the pitter patter of shoe against pavement that amps the suspense. No score to artificially heighten the tension and instead filmmakers rely on the story and characters. This style was a staple of the 1970s and one I wish and hope some filmmaker will utilize someday.

By the way, if you don’t recognize the name, Lalo Schifrin, you do know some of his work, one in particular: the theme from “Mission: Impossible”. When I saw his credit come across the screen, I immediately realized where some of the music cues came from. Even though the score isn’t the best, Schifrin’s work is still very good in this project. And it’s a hell lot better than the synthesized crap the 80s unleashed onto the masses...

One can argue that Dirty Harry really shaped who Clint Eastwood is today, public perception at least. But no other person was more influential on Eastwood than director Don Siegel. Eastwood and Siegel first worked together in 1970's Two Mules for Sister Sara followed by The Beguiled in ’71 (the two would reunite with 1979’s slightly underrated Escape from Alcatraz). Previously Siegel was a B-movie director, working on Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1956 and, as I discovered during one of the many featurettes on this disc, also filmed montages including the ones in Casablanca. He was efficient and direct, two qualities Clint Eastwood admired and, one can assume, emulated throughout his career.

What makes Dirty Harry still great after all these years are the things he stood against (authority, the system, etc) still can apply today. You can take it or leave it. Either way it is still one hell of an entertaining movie that both men and women can enjoy. Nearly 40 years later, Dirty Harry has proven to be a movie that has stood the test of time and will still be enjoyed in another 40 years from now. How many films can say the same thing? While it may not have the grandiosity of The Godfather or Star Wars, it certainly belongs in the same class as those.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Warner Bros. have released one mighty Blu-ray containing hours of bonus features that will interest any Clint Eastwood or Dirty Harry fan. Unlike its DVD counterpart, all the features fit on one disc (including “Out of the Shadows” which are on a third disc in the SD box set), but are presented in 480p/i standard definition.

Historian and Eastwood Biographer Richard Schickel starts things out with an interesting and in-depth commentary track as he points out little things about Eastwood in this film and the reaction it received back in 1971. Schickel makes plenty of pauses throughout but the things he had to say about Eastwood and the film makes it well worth listening to.

The Long Shadow of Dirty Harry (25:31) – This is a new documentary that just features new interviews with various actors and filmmakers including Clint Eastwood (of course), Michael Madsen, John Badham (Director; WarGames), Joe Carnahan (Dir; Narc), Shane Black (Writer; Lethal Weapon) and David Ayer (Writer; Training Day), amongst so many others. The interviewees talk about the influence Dirty Harry had on them and the genre as a whole. It’s a good companion piece to... (Presented in anamorphic widescreen)

Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows (86:48) – This almost feature-length documentary is filled to the brim with facts about Eastwood and his life growing up to struggling as an actor, his work on Westerns, the impact of the Dirty Harry series and his long-time relationship with Warner Bros. Pictures. This one features more interviews with various people who have worked with Eastwood throughout the years (Forest Whitaker, Donald Sutherland, Editor Joel Cox, etc). (Narrated by Morgan Freeman; Presented in anamorphic widescreen)

Clint Eastwood: The Man from Malpaso (58:08) – Another lengthy featurette that more or less goes over the same territory as “Out of the Shadows”. This one, however, is presented in full frame.

The disc also features an interview gallery (27:25) with comments that I assume were not used for one of the previous featurettes. They include Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Joel Cox (editor), Hal Holbrook, Evan Kim, John Milius (writer; Magnum Force), Ted Post (director; Magnum Force), Andy Robinson (Scorpio in Dirty Harry), Arnold Schwarzenegger and the late Robert Urich (small role in Magnum Force).

Rounding out the disc are 2 Vintage Featurettes, Dirty Harry’s Way (7:06) and Dirty Harry: The Original (29:45). The former was made back in the 70s while the other was, I assume created for the 2001 DVD release and was hosted by Robert Urich.

And finally WB has kindly provided a Dirty Harry Movies Trailer Gallery (11:06) which includes a trailer for all five films in the series. This is a nice addition as you get to see the progression of marketing from one to the next wrapping up with a laughably terrible trailer for The Dead Pool.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Dirty Harry comes to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc, which allows all these features to be on one disc, and remastered audio and video. The film is presented with its original aspect ratio of 2.40 and features a 1080p/VC-1 resolution and codec. While the picture certainly looks great given its age, there are still plenty of noticeable grains, dust and scratches throughout and sometimes it seems some shots didn’t get as good of a scrubbing as the rest. It’s still an impressive looking picture with dated but still nice looking colors.

While the picture looks nice, the audio fails to impress. Despite WB giving the film a Dolby TrueHD track, it’s obvious that the film could not make full use of it at times. Dialog doesn’t feel very heavy and sometimes sound fairly muffled in certain scenes while the only work-over my speakers received came via Schifrin’s score. The disc also has an English Dolby Digital 5.1 and mono tracks in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese and Portuguese. There are also plenty of subtitles featured (see DVD info for a complete list).



.::OVERALL::.

Even though the audio was a disappointment and the video isn’t all that awe inspiring, still looks hella good given it’s nearly 40 years old now, this Blu-ray disc would be a good addition for anyone’s high-def collection. The features contained on the disc are great and so extensive that if you don’t know a whole lot about Clint Eastwood, you will after watching them.

As for the film, there’s not much more I can than what I already have. Dirty Harry is a classic, plain and simple. It is right up there with The French Connection and Bullitt and anyone who even remotely considers themselves a DVD aficionado, needs this in their collection ASAP.