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“Dirty Harry-Special Edition - Taylor's Review”
Taylor Carlson
Studio: Warner Bros.
Genre: Action
Special Features: Commentary by Eastwood bigrapher Richard Schickel, Long Shadow of Dirty Harry featurette, Dirty Harry - The Original featurette, Dirty Harry's Way featurette, Interview gallery, 1993 Clint Eastwood TV special, trailers

Dirty Harry is directed by Don Siegel. The film stars Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, John Larch, Andy Robinson, Rene Santoni, and John Vernon. It's the first of five films in the Dirty Harry series. The movie was originally released in 1971, and this is the third DVD release of the film. ***

A deadly sniper calling himself “Scorpio” has committed a murder in San Francisco, and essentially now holds the city hostage, swearing to kill again unless a hefty ransom is paid. A tough-as-nails police inspector, Harry Callahan, hunts down and apprehends the villain - only to have him released on legal technicalities, despite the murders he has committed. This infuriates Callahan, who knows the villain will strike again - and he's determined to stop him by any means necessary. ***

Dirty Harry is a classic, no doubt about it. Clint Eastwood had proven time and time again he was a genius when it came to acting in Westerns, and this is the movie that showed the world he could fare equally well in a latter-day action setting. In many ways this is the role that defined his career - so much so that it spawned four sequels spanning a decade and a half. The political themes of the film are still relevant and hotly debated today, which only adds to the experience. Regardless of your taste in movies, Dirty Harry is a film you must see at least once before you die. ---

Image And Sound:

Warner Bros. has “gone ahead and made my day” with these new transfers for the series. ***

This is it - the best the Dirty Harry series has EVER looked on home video. Warner has given the film the mastering it has so desperately needed for so long, and the results show through and through. It's been nearly four decades since the film hit theaters, so I'm amazed at how much they were able to do with the image. This transfer has to be seen in action to be appreciated. ***

The sound quality holds up just as well as the image. Be it dialogue, the unique musical scoring from the always-brilliant Lalo Schifrin, or the gunshots from Harry's 44, everything just sounds great. Like the visual transfer, the audio also needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Special Features:

Warner Bros. has released Dirty Harry 3 times on DVD. The first release was a very bare-bones release with no bonus material. The second had a few minor featurettes but was still fairly limited in terms of what it offered - both earlier releases were single disc. Whoever was in charge of this latest reissue must have asked themselves, “do I feel lucky?” ***

Well, I guess they DID feel lucky. This is a two-disc set LOADED with special features. Every earlier release of Dirty Harry on DVD has been a disappointment, but the third time really is the charm for Dirty Harry on DVD. Here's a look at what you'll be getting in this set: ***

Commentary with Richard Schickel: Schickel is a Clint Eastwood biographer who is no stranger to the man's work. And he serves up a great commentary here. He goes beyond Eastwood, and even discusses director Don Siegel, as well as what kind of a movie he was trying to make, and how he worked with the film's star. And perhaps most importantly, Schickel isn't above kicking back and enjoying the movie once in a while. I wanted commentary with Clint Eastwood himself (as I'm sure many fans did), but this is, unquestionably, the next best thing. ***

“Dirty Harry: The Original” featurette: This featurette runs for half an hour and is hosted by Robert Urich. A number of people around San Francisco (where the movie was filmed and based) are interviewed throughout its duration. While it's not too in-depth (you probably won't learn anything new here if you're a Dirty Harry maniac), it's still a fun extra to watch if you're a fan. ***

“Dirty Harry's Way”: Despite its under-10-minute length, this was one of my favorite bonus features in the set. It's a vintage promo piece, shot back when the movie was filming. You get to see a young Eastwood and Siegel doing what they do best, on both sides of the camera. ***

Interview Gallery: Essentially, this is half an hour of snippets from various interviews recorded over the years, that are in some way or another related to the film or Eastwood himself. It's always interesting to hear what the various interviewees have to say about the film and/or its star, which will make this featurette all the more appealing to fans of the series ***

Trailer Gallery: Trailers for all five Dirty Harry films. Enough said. ***

The Long Shadow of Dirty Harry: This is a brand new featurette recorded just for this release. This is various discussions about the character, the film, the star, and more. Running at around half an hour, it's a great featurette no Dirty Harry fan should overlook. ***

Clint Eastwood: The Man from Malpaso: The final featurette on this disc runs an hour, and goes beyond Dirty Harry. Instead it focuses on Eastwood himself, from birth to the then-present (this featurette came out in the early 90s, so it only covers up to around the time Unforgiven was released.) Fans of Clint Eastwood will love this featurette. Chances are if you're a fan, you may have seen the special back when it first aired on TV.

Final Words:

Finally, Dirty Harry gets a worthy DVD release. Great picture quality and a ton of great bonus features top off what is truly a classic film. If you're a fan of the film, even if you already bought one of the earlier DVD releases, GET THIS VERSION. It's that much of an improvement.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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