Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Dirty Harry (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Dirty Harry (1971)

In Don Siegel's action-crime film - it was a seminal vigilante film of the decade, considered sensational at the time and appealed to male audiences because of its overt violence, its tough-as-nails title character, and occasional glimpses of nudity.

The duelling combatants (the cop and the criminal) throughout the film - an individualistic, unconventional, neo-fascist, super-hero police detective with a .44 Magnum weapon who threw away the rule book, and his complementary opposite - a pathological, malevolent and sadistic criminal who demanded an extortionist ransom of $100,000, both shared traits of brutal violence and insanity. The 'mad' killer drew parallels with an actual gunman (the so-called Zodiac serial-killer) who terrorized the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960s.

This was the first of many hard-hitting, action-packed sequels starring maverick, renegade cop Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan ("Inspector 71") who was famous for sarcastic one-liners, portrayed by steely-eyed Clint Eastwood in a career-boosting role. The film was followed by four other fast-paced, commercially-successful, but formulaic 'Dirty Harry' cop-thriller sequels:

  • Magnum Force (1973) (d. Ted Post)
  • The Enforcer (1976) (d. James Fargo)
  • Sudden Impact (1983) (directed by Eastwood himself)
  • The Dead Pool (1988) (d. Buddy Van Horn)

Transferring his persona from his past appearance in 'spaghetti westerns' to the urban environment, Clint Eastwood (in his most famous role) played the part of an uncompromising, tough, unyielding, street-wise cop in a San Francisco overrun with crime and sexuality (e.g., the Columbus Street red-light district, and other deviant lifestyles displayed in the film). He followed his own unconventional philosophy of justice using "excessive force," ruthless methods, and "the end justifies the means" principle without much regard for the rules and legal regulations of his profession. Often, his methods were as vicious, taunting, sadistic and violent as the behavior of the criminals he opposed.

  • in the film's opening, the camera zoomed into a marble wall memorial (topped with a SF police badge), with a scrolling list of fallen SF officers killed in the line of duty since 1878, with a super-imposed gold badge

Gigantic Rifle Barrel

On a Rooftop, Sniper Scorpio (Andy Robinson)

Rooftop Swimmer (Diana Davidson) Target in Telescopic Sight
  • in the next sequence after a dissolve, a baby-faced, hippie-looking criminal sniper with a telescopic lens on his high-powered rifle was on a downtown rooftop; his weapon was aimed at a young woman (Diana Davidson) in a yellow, one-piece swimsuit at a nearby roof-top hotel swimming pool - he pulled the trigger and shot her dead in the back
  • during the opening credits, SFPD homicide cop Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) was already investigating the scene of the crime, and found a rifle shell casing on the adjacent rooftop; a handwritten ransom note segued into the next scene set in the office of the SF Mayor (John Vernon); the deranged "madman" killer who was named SCORPIO had written on the note, being read outloud, that he demanded cash ($100,000) or he would resume the killing of random targets among the city's innocent citizens each day (starting with a Catholic priest and a n----r)

SF Mayor (John Vernon)

Chief of Police (John Larch)

Harry's Boss - Chief Lt. Al Bressler (Harry Guardino)
  • the Mayor concluded to the Chief of Police (John Larch) that he would rather pay the police department to hunt down the killer, and not offer the ransom, but then announced, with an already-perturbed SFPD Homicide Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) and his superior Chief Lt. Al Bressler (Harry Guardino) in the room, that the criminal would be notified of being paid (via a posting in the personal column of the SF Chronicle), but there would be a short delay in assembling the money; already contemptuous of authority, Callahan disputed the decision ("You're gonna play this creep's game?") and instead proposed to handle it: "Why don't you let me meet with the son-of-a-bitch?" but he was advised by the Mayor to not stir up any more violence as he had in the past during an attempted rape in the Fillmore district
Opening Bank Robbery Sequence

Wounded Robber: "Hey, I gots to know"
Harry's Fearsome .44 Magnum Gun
  • at the start of the subsequent, spectacular bank robbery sequence, Callahan spoke to greasy spoon counter-server Jaffe (Woodrow Parfrey) in the downtown Burger Den (around the corner from a movie marquee advertising "Play Misty For Me"), who asked what he wanted to order: "The usual? The usual lunch or the usual dinner?" - Harry flippantly responded: "Well, what difference does it make?"; his Jumbo hot-dog meal was interrupted - a signature piece in cop films - when he asked Jaffe about a suspicious tan Ford vehicle parked nearby in front of a bank, and asked him to call in a possible in-progress "211" (bank robbery) to the police department; it was confirmed when almost immediately, he heard the sound of the bank's alarm system and a gunshot and had to put down his lunch after one bite: "Aw, s--t!"
  • in the next celebrated sequence, while still chewing, he calmly walked outside with his monstrous, long-barreled, heavyweight Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum ready for action against the three black men; after firing his weapon multiple times, he spoke to one of the cornered and wounded black men (Albert Popwell) who was reaching for his shotgun on the sidewalk; the thief heard the famous full lines of dialogue as a dare to go after his gun again: "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 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?" - this was followed by the criminal's surrender and implied question as Harry walked away: "Hey, I gots to know" - Harry obliged by pulling the trigger with the gun aimed at the man's head - it clicked on an empty barrel
  • Harry was assigned a new, inexperienced replacement partner - Mexican-American cop Chico Gonzales (Reni Santoni), who was told about Harry's across-the-board non-racist, and un-bigoted prejudice and hatred for everyone
  • the search for Scorpio was spearheaded by scouring patrol helicopters that spotted the killer on a rooftop (as he was targeting a black man on a park bench), but he fled and disappeared; that evening during patrol Harry suspected another possible sighting of Scorpio (it turned out to be a man with a suitcase filled with lingerie for his girlfriend "Hot Mary (Lois Foraker) - a false alarm), although 'Dirty' Harry ended up being accused of being a dirty 'peeping tom'; Harry also prevented a crazed suicidal jumper (Bill Couch) from killing himself, and then described to Chico one way how he had earned his nickname: "Now you know why they call me 'Dirty Harry.' Every dirty job that comes along"
  • the following day, the crazed and maniacal Scorpio's next victim was a 10 year-old black boy Charlie Russell who was shot in the face from the sniper perched above a nearby apartment building; that night, a priest volunteered to be "set up for bait" at a North Beach church's entrance as a target for Scorpio who was expected to appear on an adjacent rooftop, while Callahan and Gonzales were set up below a rotating JESUS SAVES sign; Scorpio giggled as he opened fire on the two detectives; apparently, Officer Collins on the street "never knew what hit him" when he was shot and killed as Scorpio again escaped
  • Scorpio's newest target was 14-year-old Ann Mary Deacon (Debralee Scott) who was kidnapped and supposedly buried alive; Scorpio sent a letter to the police demanding to be paid $200,000 to keep her alive; the Mayor responded by gathering funds to pay off the blackmailing, pathological killer, and Harry volunteered to be the "bagman" - to deliver the ransom money (while being tailed by Gonzales, against orders); after being led all over town (to assure that he was alone) via pay phone instructions, Harry was confronted by the killer (wearing a red ski-mask) at the top of Mount Davidson Park at the foot of a massive cross; after Harry was knocked down and rifle-whipped, Scorpio basically admitted that the girl was already dead ("I'm gonna let her die")
  • Gonzales defended Harry and fired at Scorpio and prevented Callahan's murder, but was shot and wounded in the process; Harry was able to stab the killer's left thigh with a concealed switchblade before he fled (and dropped the bag); shortly later, Callahan received a phone tip that the wounded serial killer had received medical treatment at a small emergency medical hospital close to Kezar Stadium, where he was possibly living in the groundskeeper's room
  • in the flood-lit Kezar stadium scene on the 50 yard-line, 'Dirty Harry' ordered Scorpio to stop running, and then shot him, producing a second wound to his bloody leg; he then stood above and questioned the psychotic Scorpio: ("The girl? Where is she?...Where's the girl?"); as he arrested Scorpion, Callahan also tortured him, as the cowardly, despicable killer was pleading: ("I have the right for a lawyer"); Harry used strong-arm tactics to torture and crush Scorpio's wounded, bleeding leg under his grinding foot and heel; the striking sequence ended with a lengthy pull-back helicopter shot into the darkness
Kezar Stadium Confrontation Between Incensed Harry and Scorpio

Firing On Scorpio in the Stadium

Scorpio Cringing in Pain

Scorpio Wounded

"I have rights. I want a lawyer"

"Where's the girl?"

Harry Torturing Scorpio
  • shortly later, after finding the kidnapped girl dead, and Scorpio was arrested, the liberal District Attorney William Rothko (Josef Sommer) and the by-the-book Honorable Judge Bannerman (William Paterson) of the Appellate Court both ruled that Callahan used unreasonable search and seizure (of Scorpio's home), and that the criminal's civil rights were abused, and therefore the evidence acquired of his crimes would be inadmissible in the court, and Scorpio would be released; Harry was astounded and incensed, and went on to defend the rights of victims, certain that the killer would continue to terrorize innocent citizens ("You know, you're crazy if you think you've heard the last of this guy. He's gonna kill again....'Cause he likes it"), but to no avail
  • Scorpio was released (Harry began to shadow the killer on his own time), and then hired a black man to beat him up for $200 dollars - in order to frame and blame Inspector Callahan and charge him with police brutality; the Police Chief ordered Harry to no longer conduct surveillance on Scorpio with a restraining order
  • a short while later, Scorpio continued his crime spree by robbing a liquor store and beating up the proprietor, and then the leering and malignant Scorpio chose more innocent victims when he hijacked a yellow schoolbus with seven children and a bus driver (Ruth Kobart); Scorpio was again holding the city hostage by demanding ransom money ($200,000), using the kidnapped children as pawns; the Mayor had already guaranteed the criminal safe passage to an escape jet at the Santa Rose airport within a half hour; after Callahan refused an order to deliver the ransom money (a second time) to meet the blackmailer's demands, he chose to pursue and stop Scorpio this time - on his own terms
  • in the concluding hi-jacked school bus sequence, Scorpio became more crazed as the bus proceeded along; he even slapped one of the kids for objecting, and threatened: "I'm gonna kill all your mothers along with the rest of you!"
  • Harry positioned himself on a wooden railroad trestle above Sir Francis Drake Blvd. - waiting there for the right moment to jump onto the roof of the moving bus; after successfully getting atop the bus, Scorpio tried to dislodge Harry, but he lost control of the vehicle that veered and crashed into the gates of a crushed rock quarry plant - Callahan was thrown from the bus
  • in the rock quarry, vengeful vigilante lawman "Dirty Harry" chased and pursued Scorpio, exchanging gunfire several times in the plant; when Scorpio took a young boy fishing on a small pond's wooden dock-platform as his shield-hostage, Harry shot his prey in the left shoulder-arm and the hostage was able to escape
  • the psycho-sadist Scorpio was forced to hear Harry (with his .44 Magnum pointed at him) recite and repeat his earlier litany (to the bank robber) as he stood above him during their final showdown; gritting both his teeth and jaw, Callahan gave him a grim choice - surrender, or gamble ("feel lucky") by reaching for his gun, hoping that Harry was out of ammunition; the giggling psycho-sadist made his choice and reached for his own gun - but there was one more bullet in Harry's gun, and Scorpio was executed and shot dead in the chest - in cold blood. His body was propelled backward into the small pond. Callahan walked to the edge of the wooden platform above the water to gaze down at the murderer's bloodied corpse floating and slowly sinking below him
The Demise of Scorpio
  • after having found retribution his own extra-legal way by exterminating the heartless and sick terrorist, without following bureaucratic police procedures, Harry's final gesture was to thoughtfully pull his police badge (Inspector 2211, SF Police) from his wallet and hurl it into the stagnant pond with the body and then walk away
Film's Conclusion: 'Dirty' Harry Discarding His SFPD Badge into Water

Memorial to Fallen Police Officers

Det. Callahan (Clint Eastwood) Angry For Having to Wait Outside Mayor's Office

Callahan Approaching Scene of Opening Bank Robbery

Harry's Partner Replacement - Mexican American Chico Gonzales (Reni Santoni)

Scorpio on a Second Rooftop Scoping For More Targets

Scorpio's Disassembled Weapon in a Case

Black Man Targeted on Park Bench

Suicide Jumper (Bill Couch)

Giggling Maniacal Sniper Scorpio Shooting Back at Callahan and Gonzales

Harry Led All Over Town As a "Bagman" with Ransom Money For Buried-Alive Girl

Harry Face-to-Face with Red Ski-Masked Scorpio at Mount Davidson Cross

Scorpio Stabbed by Harry's Switchblade Knife in Left Thigh as He Fled

Lengthy Pull-Back Helicopter Shot From Stadium

The Legalistic District Attorney William Rothko (Josef Sommer) - Scorpio Will Be Released

Honorable Judge Bannerman (William Paterson) - All Evidence Against Scorpio Excluded

Scorpio Deliberately Beaten Up By a Black Man - To Frame Harry for Police Brutality

Scorpio Hijacking School Bus With Children and Its Driver

Harry Standing Atop Railroad Trestle Bridge Awaiting Bus

Hi-Jacked School Bus With Harry Riding Atop

Scorpio Holding Boy Hostage at Plant's Pond


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