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Dirty Harry: Ultimate Collector's Edition (DVD Review)

1 Jun, 2008 By: John Latchem

Dirty Harry

Street 6/3/08
$74.92 seven-DVD set, $129.95 five-disc Blu-ray
Rated ‘R.’
Stars Clint Eastwood, Andy Robinson, Remi Santoni, Felton Perry, Tyne Daly, Sondra Locke.

The original Dirty Harry caused quite a stir upon its debut in 1971. Director Don Siegel’s story of a rogue cop who took the law into his own hands was somewhat of a reaction to a sentiment that the legal system was coddling criminals to the detriment of victims.

The success of the original spawned four sequels: Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983) and The Dead Pool (1988).

As Inspector Harry Callahan, Clint Eastwood perfectly portrayed the character’s obsessive need to impose order in a random universe. Harry Callahan would become the archetype for the action heroes of the 1970s and 1980s, from Charles Bronson in Death Wish to Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon and Bruce Willis in Die Hard.

Critics accused the films of catering to fascist instincts. Famed film critic Pauline Kael even called Dirty Harry a “Gestapo movie,” though producers would get back at her in The Dead Pool, creating a film critic character based on her only to kill her off.

This new boxed set offers an extensive look at one of the most-influential action-film franchises of all time, and has pretty much everything a fan of the series could ask for.

In an introductory note, Eastwood discusses how a nagging hand injury prevented Frank Sinatra from wielding the character’s trademark .44 Magnum revolver, opening the door for Eastwood to take on the role of cinema’s most ruthless detective.

For behind-the-scenes buffs, featurettes chronicle everything from the history of the production to its context within the police-drama genre, as well as the career of its star. Most interesting is an examination of the political implications of the franchise.

The set loads up with memorabilia such as a map of Harry’s exploits from the first film, a replica of Harry’s badge, miniature reproductions of the poster of each film, and reproductions of memos from the production, when it was still known by the working title of Dead Right.

Unfortunately, in a boxed set that includes a booklet of pictures from each film, and fold-out cases for the films with large empty spaces designed in the artwork, it’s a shame there’s no guide to inform viewers about which extras can be found on each disc.

The films also are available individually, with Dirty Harry in a two-disc set at $34.99, and the other four at $14.97 each.

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