He asks us directly. You’ve all heard him! “You have to ask yourself a question right now” he says, “Do I feel Lucky?” With 5 Dirty Harry movies, each a special edition full to the brim with extras and commentaries, “I sure do punk!”
So let’s look at each release in this box set separately shall we to see how they measure up.
Dirty Harry (1971)Even if you were to take out the lead character you still have pretty nifty cop film. A real retro highlight that is told with style, humour, an unmistakeable soundtrack of its era and of course some strong and unforgiving violence. The bad guys here are not afraid of being bad guys. They will threaten women and children.
Eastwood may be a bit lanky to really be a running and leaping action hero. Just watching some of his stiff moves is proof of that. But what qualifies his Dirty Harry as one of the first true action heroes is three things.
1. Stance. Most overlooked aspect. Just watch him standing awaiting the approaching school bus at the end. The reaction on Andy Robinson’s face says it all. It’s an awe inspiring moment, and it’s literally a man just standing there. You know the bad guy is in some serious shit now.
2. The Punch. Eastwood has proved time and time again in cinema that he can deliver one almighty nerve-shattering wallop to the face. From here, to his 80’s action movies and even in the 90’s in films like “A Perfect World” where he didn’t even read to swing back the way to deck out a cocky sniper.
3. The Gun. Yes the most studied of the three. The giant f’ing gun he carries. Could be argued as an extension of the male ego, or even libido. But seeing that Callahan is actually a bit of a righteous law maker, not just a rule breaker, it’s more an extension of the characters resolve. It’s putting his money where his mouth is. Not an assertion of male dominance of any kind. And what’s more, he knows how to use the damn thing! And the climax of this film is an assertion of that.
So there we have it. It is obviously still the best of the series. This is also a film that Lethal Weapon took a leaf from in terms of how to talk down a “Jumper.” Still a classic.
ExtrasThe extras here are more than plentiful. The new set of documentaries go into rich detail about the film, the era it was made and the thematics involved. There is also a long documentary on Eastwood’s career.
Special Features – Disc 1:
• Commentary by Richard Schickel – Filmmaker and Eastwood biographer• “Dirty Harry: The Original”• “Dirty Harry’s Way”• Interview Gallery• Trailer
Disc 2:• “The Long Shadow of Dirty Harry”• “Clint Eastwood: The Man From Malpaso”
Magnum Force (1973)The violence was ramped right up in this one (thank you John Milius!) and it also introduced us to some interesting themes as Harry goes up against not just more foes, but also the prospect of inside dealings and corruption. But there is also the notion of corrupt cops cleaning the streets who then think they can seduce Harry over to the dark side.
David Soul’s dodgy copper (kind of the Anti-Callahan) and also their commander played by 70’s/80’s dependable actor Hal Holbrook put in great turns.
ExtrasMilius comes across like a real lover of guns in his commentary. He does talk about the time and the film-making aspects as well from time to time, but he spends a lot of his commentary talking about guns and how they fit into the film. But seeing that the first film made Harry’s gun so famous in the first place there was a real want for it out there in the market place. Which is sort of worrying really.
• Commentary by John Milius• “The Moral Right: The Politics Of Dirty Harry”• “The Hero Cop: Yesterday And Today”• Trailer
The Enforcer (1976)Keeping things interesting: This time the partner is a woman, and the villain count is ramped up even further to a whole gang this time. This gang act like a bunch of hippie revolutionaries with lots of guns. So sadly there is very little thought going into their antics. Or so it would seem.
The main draw here instead comes from the match up of the giant Eastwood and the “Tiny” Tyne Daly. We all know partners don’t last too long in Harry’s company, but usually they are disposed of by the mid-way point. Here Daly gets to ride the show to the end before finally taken the fatal dive as many others have before her, and it’s a sad moment when she does. Dirty Harry movies were never supposed to end happy. Not the good ones anyway. But having said that, The Enforcer is probably the funniest out of all the films.
ExtrasFargo’s commentary highlights well how Eastwood likes to work with teams of people and how he worked his way up the chain to get the job. The documentaries continue the trend in this box set – this time looking at violence in cinema.
• New Commentary by Director James Fargo• “The Business End: Violence In Cinema”• “Harry Callahan/Clint Eastwood: Something Special In Films”• Trailer
Sudden Impact (1983)Go Ahead, Make My Day. Not many 4th parts of a franchise are responsible for one of the most well known phrases in film history. Of course the “Do you Feel lucky Punk?” (which was never actually said this way) originated from the original. But it is quite a feat for a 4th part (and not a great one at that) to be responsible for quite a memorable line in movie history.
This is also known for being the Eastwood-directed Dirty Harry movie. Sadly it’s also where things started to really take a nose-dive quality wise. The plot again is interesting enough. A vigilante is out stalking those that had put her through a rape ordeal. So it’s comes off more like a female Death Wish, but Sondra Locke is no Charles Bronson! But she was Eastwood’s missus at the time, so what do we know?
This is probably the best-looking of the films, but it is also probably the most serious in tone. Some of the fun is seriously lacking.
ExtrasSchickel gives another fascinating commentary that is full of information about Eastwood and his career. There is only one other notable extra which is the half-hour documentary. It is also interesting to find out that of all the movie icons at the time – the public most wanted to see Dirty Harry again, which is a prime reason for the production going ahead.
• New Commentary from film critic Richard Schickel• “The Evolution of Clint Eastwood”• Trailer
The Dead Pool (1988)The one that included truly awful turns from rising stars Liam Neeson and one Jim Carrey. If anything it’s an interesting idea. One thing that can be said about the Dirty Harry films is that they are not too repetitive. But sadly this outing is perhaps the most dated, despite being the most recent. The action set-pieces are fairly unengaging, tempered only by Eastwood decking out the occasional person and growling angrily at authority figures.
ExtrasThankfully there are more befitting extras for us to enjoy which at least gives reason to the film being made. There is also a final documentary for the series again crammed with info, if also the occasional repetitive material.
• New Commentary from Producer David Valdes and Cinematographer Jack N. Green, Buddy Van Horn and Joel Cox• “The Craft of Dirty Harry”• Trailer• UCE Special Features & Contents Extra Disc• Feature length documentary “Clint Eastwood – Out Of The Shadows”,• 44 page hardback book• Harry Callahan’s police badge and ID• Map of the Bay area detailing crime scenes• Original theatrical art cards• Internal studio correspondence
Dirty HarryMagnum ForceThe Enforcer Sudden Impact The Dead PoolOverall FILMS Overall Extras
Dirty Harry Ultimate Collector’s Edition Box Set is out now.