From 1971, a newly restored “Dirty Harry” has been returned to the screen. This is a fantastic DVD release in every way – as either a solitary disc, or as part of the Dirty Harry box set. The video looks fantastic, the audio sounds good, and the disc is packed with valuable features. Beyond the quality of the DVD presentation, the movie itself is a classic – “Dirty Harry” is a seminal detective story in the annals of Hollywood – Harry Callahan is one of the original disaffected anti-heroes, a traum…tized dark horse of man, and a person trapped and frustrated by bureaucracy. This movie has contributed hugely to every member of its genre that’s followed.
This disc is available either on its own without the special features, or as part of the Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry Collection which features the rest of the Dirty Harry series (Magnum Force, Dead Pool, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact).
A well mastered 5.1 presentation is included, to which has obviously been paid the same attention as was lavished on the video. The funky soundtrack comes out clearly, and has been well balanced in relation to the action. Argentinian Lalo Schifrin was a perfect choice to compose this movie’s score. Action makes full use of the 5.1 speakers with sound clearly following the motion of action on screen, and bass response applied in a subtle and effective manner.
The video is a great restoration – colours are well balanced, blacks are solid, and night scenes are grain free. Hues and saturation have been addressed perfectly. Contrast this restoration with that of the inconsistent “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” for examples of how differently restoration efforts can turn out. These is some scratching and dust damage that mars the transfer at times, but it is barely noticeable for the vast majority of the film.
Dirty Harry’s Way (Documentary): “Departing from movie detective’s styles of the past.” This is the original documentary 1971 behind-the-scenes documentary. It is a very interesting examination of the departure of the character of “Dirty Harry” from other TV police anti-heros – both “more convincing and more relaxed” than, for example, Robert Armstrong in 1935 and Humphrey Bogart. It’s full of great comparative historical footage, and like all things Dirty Harry, features a groovy soundtrack all of its own.
Dirty Harry: The Original (Documentary): “He’s the archetype of the modern movie cop: he plays by the rules until the rules don’t work anymore.” This is a new Dirty Harry documentary featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson and a bevy of other Hollywood types, discussing all aspects of the Dirty Harry series. It turns out for instance that him and Don Seigel were scoping out Seattle for the film. This documentary is surprisingly good – certainly more interesting and insightful than many of the other fluffy documentaries that are tossed in with DVD’s. There’s lots of comments like: “Lawyers practice the law, Dirty Harry practices justice.” Andrew Robinson (plays the killer Scorpio) is also an interesting inclusion, as he elucidates on the difficulty of playing a lunatic, and how collaborative the making of the movie was. All of the contributors to this documentary have further interview footage in the “Interview Gallery:” These are inclusion-worthy vignettes that are worth watching as well.
Memorable Lines / On Location: These features are fillers. The first is two text quotes, nothing more. The second is a brief two-page text synopsis of the shooting locations used around San Francisco. Both of these would have made great features if they had linked to the relevant locations in the movie.
The Trailer: Usually I wouldn’t bother mentioning the trailer, but this one is awesome: lovingly restored video and sound reflect what a great trailer this truly is. It starts with “This is a movie about a couple of killers, Harry Callahan and a homicidal maniac… the one with the badge is Dirty Harry.” It continues with “You don’t assign him to a murder case… you just… turn him loose.” The trailer is three fantastic minutes long – watch it!
If you are a fan of police drama, murder mystery, or just good movie making, you should rush out and buy this. If you are a Dirty Harry fan, I assume you already own it and appreciate all of its merits. Either way, Warner Studios is to be commended for this exceptional, high quality release.
Special Features List
- New Digital Transfer
- 30th Anniversary Documentary
- Original 1971 Documentary
- Theatrical Trailer
- Production Notes
- New 5.1 Audio