an Francisco’s gotten much of a nuisance on its hands, and it’s called Scorpio. Fresh out of the woodwork, he hits the headlines with a murder. Sure enough, he asks the city hall to fork over the dough, or there’s plenty more where that came from. Unluckily for him, inspector Harry Callahan -dubbed dirty on account of his maverick MO and who seems to always be there raining on the bad guys’ parade- gets on his case.
Hard-boiled,world-weary, undeterred, seasoned, and ever so unpredictable, Callahan doesn’t come over as your average, tame John Blow police officer and certainly not the guy to fuck around with. He epitomizes the police getting carried away and not quite knowing where to draw the line.
Trying to shake him off, Scorpio tries to pit the media against him, going for some sort of character assassination. Only this Callahan individual might be just a trifle more than bargained for, as he makes it more than ever his business to do away with the bad guy.
The film does a bang up job at highlighting the sometimes preposterous system, which allows loopholes, shielding the criminal and straitjacketing the police. It flies in the teeth of common sense and the frustration is palpable.
As human lives are at stake, Callahan’s superiors are quick to yield to Scorpio’s demands, which makes for a marked contrast between them and him- not exactly one to tow the line. Taking down a cunning criminal- and Scorpio is so in spades- takes a cunning cop, and Callahan knows that only too well. They’re counting on your playing straight, which leaves no room for the surprise factor. Sometimes there can be no playing by the book and he goes no holds barred to bring to justice this despicable, two-bit, balls-out murderer, who unflinchingly stubs people out for self-gratification. And a shitton of money.
I got one heck of a kick watching this movie, both as a crime- film buff and as a Eastwood fan. The film is important not only in terms of the conspicuous influence it’s had on later movies, but also with respect to Clint Eastwod’s acting evolution. I like breaking down his career in three parts, each emblematized by a character: The Man with no Name (representing not only the ‘Dollar’ trilogy, but as an exponent of Eastwood’s whole Western period ), Harry Callahan (be it either “Dirty Harry”, or ” Escape from Alcatraz”, you can feel the similarity), and then, topping it all off, Walt Kowalski (Gran Torino). I can’t think of a different set of characters better putting across who Clint Eastwood’s been as an actor, and showcasing his acting muscle. Fabulous actor (and director too, for that matter), fantastic film.