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Despite everything else he has done in his career as either an actor or director, it is his 1971 film DIRTY HARRY ($25) and its title character that will remain the one thing that Clint Eastwood is most readily identified. The character has become a cinema icon for his tough and steely demeanor. In DIRTY HARRY, Clint Eastwood stars as Harry Callahan, a dedicated San Francisco police detective who threw away the rule book a very long time ago. Harry is assigned to a case involving a sniper calling himself Scorpio who is holding the city hostage.

Scorpio is demanding cash or he will continue picking off random targets of San Francisco citizenry. Harry is able to lock onto the identity of Scorpio and capture him, but a legal technicality sets the sniper free. This situation doesn’t sit well with Harry. Scorpio isn’t happy either, since he feels that Harry and the city have cheated him out of his money. This leads to one final hostage situation, which brings Harry and Scorpio to an inevitable showdown. Director Don Siegel makes excellent use of actual San Francisco locations, turning DIRTY HARRY into one of the most gritty, realistic and violent police dramas to be produced up until that time. The excellent cast of DIRTY HARRY features Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni, John Vernon and Andrew Robinson in a knockout performance as the crazed sniper Scorpio.

Warner Home Video offers both Letterboxed and pan and scan presentations for DIRTY HARRY on opposite sides of the DVD. The Letterboxed version features the 16:9 anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. The pan and scan version crops far too much of the 2.35:1 aspect ratio to be enjoyable or even acceptable viewing. If you must watch this version, it is comparable to a television screening. The Letterboxed version is terrific looking and restores most of the film’s Panavision aspect ratio. Image quality is outstanding with everything appearing crisply focused and finely detailed. Colors are rich and offer excellent saturation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel re-mixed soundtrack is great, especially considering that DIRTY HARRY wasn’t even presented in stereo when originally released into theaters. Lalo Schifrin’s jazzy score receives a wonderful boost from the Dolby Digital encoding. The track also has some nice directional effects and the clear, punchy dialogue remains tightly focused. Other soundtrack options include matrixed Dolby Surround, plus French and Spanish language tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus offer access to a theatrical trailer, production notes plus cast and crew biographies/filmographies.

DIRTY HARRY is a Clint Eastwood classic that spawned four additional outings for the character. The DVD edition looks and sounds fantastic, and will make Eastwood’s legion of fans happy. Absolutely recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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