Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scorpio rivals Bobby Peru in gross factor: Dirty Harry.

Dirty Harry, 1971, directed by Don Siegel. "A San Francisco cop with little regard for rules (but who always gets results) tries to track down a serial killer who snipes at random victims."

Back in about 1989, my dad took us to some old video store in Willmar that was going out of business. They sold beta tapes; we had a beta VCR. I think Charlie and I each got to pick out a few movies and my dad got himself a box full. Of course it was a fight once we got home over whose film was going in first, and having paid for all of them, Dewey won. He chose this film, and while I wasn't exactly excited about watching it, I did. And loved it. And begged to watch all the sequels (which were also purchased that night). My mother was less than thrilled about this. I think she hates Dirty Harry (or anything with Clint Eastwood) just slightly less than she hates The Blues Brothers, which was another one Dewey, Charlie, and I absolutely loved. . . I'll give my mother credit, we probably made her crazy with all the ridiculous stuff we watched over the years. She picked Sophie's Choice and Terms of Endearment for her choices in the beta box that evening, btw.

Anyway. There are really only two things I'm going to say about this film, other than how much I love it. 

1. When this film came up in school, it was in an American Studies class (not Folwell Hall, surprise, surprise) and it was held as the most definitive example of Right-wing politics invading Hollywood for its time (1971). I sat in that class completely mesmerized, thinking, Jesus H, how did I miss all this? I mean, are you sure? The mayor, yes, was a clueless douche. Overly liberal? I don't know. Scorpio's peace sign belt buckle? Whoopee. Obviously he was not a spokesperson for the San Francisco Hippy movement as HE WAS KILLING PEOPLE FROM ROOFTOPS. AND RAPING 15 YEAR OLD GIRLS. I think the hippies would have passed on him, honestly. Harry's big gun a symbol? Yeah, whatever. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And Scorpio was a goddamned criminal. End of story.

2. Speaking of Scorpio. Whoever they got to write this guy deserves an award for creating the most disgusting character, pretty much ever. It would be a good fifteen years before Lynch and Dafoe brought Bobby Peru into the running, but bloody hell, man! All the smiling and giggling and cackling . . .  "I just wanted you to know something, I've changed my mind! I'm going to let her die!" Said HAPPILY, about Ann Mary Deacon, rotting in the sewer, as if it's amusing! This guy was shittin' awful! It was almost painful how long it took for Harry to just finally end him. Like in 24, with some of those evil villains, the ones you're just praying will meet up with Bauer off the grid? It was fitting that Harry waited until Scorpio thought he had gotten the drop on him before pulling the trigger. Regrettably, it did not take his head "clean off." 
You tried to kill me! 

My favorite moments are Harry's first step onto the scene at the first murder (scowl, always the scowl), and the tossing of his badge into the river after he shoots Scorpio. And pretty much every line he utters during the whole film. . . 70s gold, man, 70s gold.


Donald said...

Interesting tidbit: The actor who played Scorpio is named Andrew Robinson, who is amazing. He later went on to star as Liberace in a TV movie. But he was best as Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Anna said...

i can't even stomach the sight of the guy.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

That's funny--I've never seen Dirty Harry, actually, but when I was looking at that picture, I thought that guy looked familiar. Garak!

Donald said...

It's been a loooong time since I've seen this movie, and even longer since I've seen any of the sequels (though I really think I've only seen Dead Pool, which I think was the last in the series), but didn't he throw his badge away in the end? So why are there sequels where he's still a cop? After the credits rolled, did he go back and grab his badge again?

Anna said...

i know. apparently they needed him back. and actually, magnum force and the enforcer are very good also. kind of 70s disturbing and a little raw, but good.

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