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Uh uh. I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?
~ Harry's most infamous quote to every criminal he encounters
Go ahead. Make my day!
~ Harry's second most famous line

Harold Francis Callahan, better known as "Dirty Harry", is the titular main protagonist of the Dirty Harry film series.

From his debut, Callahan became the template for a new kind of movie cop: someone who does not hesitate to cross professional and ethical boundaries in pursuit of his own vision of justice, especially when the law is poorly served by an incompetent bureaucracy. The "Dirty Harry" archetype does not shy away from killing; all of the Dirty Harry films feature Callahan killing criminals.

His rationale for such conduct is that it is done with the greater good in mind: protecting the innocent and victims of crime. Callahan's methods are rarely endorsed by his superiors, who on various occasions have demoted, suspended or transferred him to other departments.

He was portrayed by the legendary Clint Eastwood who also portrayed The Nameless Stranger.

Overview

Dirty Harry Callahan is an Inspector with the San Francisco Police Department, usually with the Homicide department, although for disciplinary reasons he is occasionally transferred to other less prominent units, such as Personnel (in The Enforcer) or Stakeout (in Magnum Force) or just sent out of town on mundane research assignments (in Sudden Impact). Callahan's primary concern is protecting and avenging the victims of violent crime. Though proficient at apprehending criminals, his methods are often unconventional; while some claim that he is prepared to ignore the law and professional and ethical boundaries, regarding them as needless red tape hampering justice, his methods are usually within the law – he takes advantage of situations that justify his use of deadly force, sometimes almost creating those situations. When a group of men holding hostages in a liquor store in The Enforcer demand a getaway car, Callahan delivers one by driving the car through the store's plate glass window and then shooting the robbers. Rather than following the rules of the police department, Callahan inserts himself into the scene of the event at a time when the imminent use of deadly force by the criminals justifies his use of deadly force against the criminals. Conversely, in Sudden Impact when he finds out that Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke), the person responsible for a series of murders in San Francisco and San Paulo, was a rape victim killing her unpunished rapists, he lets her go free, indicating that he feels her retribution was justified.

Callahan went a step further in Dirty Harry: determined to know the location of a 14-year-old girl that serial killer Charles "Scorpio" Davis has kidnapped and tortured, he ignores Scorpio's pleas for a doctor and a lawyer and pressed his foot on Scorpio's wounded leg until he gave up the location. Callahan was later informed by the District Attorney that due to numerous civil rights violations much of the evidence against Scorpio was inadmissible and he would be released without charge. Callahan explains his outlook to the Mayor of San Francisco, who asked how Callahan ascertains that a man he had shot was intending to commit rape; the inspector responds, "When a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher's knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn't out collecting for the Red Cross."

While his partners and many other officers respect and admire Callahan, others see him as unfit to serve on the police force. He often clashes with superiors who dislike Callahan's methods, and judges and prosecutors are wary of handling his cases because of frequent violations of the Fourth Amendment and other irregularities. A police commissioner admits that Callahan's "unconventional methods ... get results", but adds that his successes are "more costly to the city and this department in terms of publicity and physical destruction than most other men's failures." (The publicity makes him well known; in Sudden Impact, the police chief of another city calls him "the famous Harry Callahan.") Callahan is often reprimanded, suspended, and demoted to minor departments. At the start of Magnum Force Lt. Briggs transfers him to stakeout. In The Enforcer Captain McKay assigns him to personnel. In Sudden Impact he is threatened with a transfer to traffic and being fired, and in The Enforcer he begins a 180-day suspension imposed by McKay. According to film critic Roger Ebert, "it would take an hour in each of these movies to explain why he's not in jail."

The films routinely depict Callahan as being a skilled marksman and strong hand-to-hand combatant. He is a multiple winner of the SFPD's pistol championship. In the five movies, Callahan is shown killing a combined total of 45 criminals, mostly with his trademark revolver, a Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum, which he describes as "the most powerful handgun in the world." He refuses to join the secret police death squad in Magnum Force as he prefers the present system, despite its flaws, to the vigilante alternative. In his fight against criminals, however, including the fellow officers on the death squad, Callahan is merciless and shows no hesitation or remorse at killing them.

In Dirty Harry, several explanations are suggested for his nickname. When his partner Chico Gonzalez asks of its origins, Frank DiGiorgio says that "that's one thing about our Harry; [he] doesn't play any favorites. Harry hates everybody: Limeys, Micks, Hebes, Fat Dagos, Niggers, Honkies, Chinks, you name it." After being called to talk down a jumper, Callahan states he is known as Dirty Harry because he is assigned to "every dirty job that comes along." When Harry is ordered to deliver ransom money to Scorpio, Gonzalez opines "no wonder they call him Dirty Harry; [he] always gets the shit end of the stick."

The movies reveal little about Callahan's personal background. In the first film, Callahan tells his partner's wife that his wife was killed by a drunk driver. She appears in Magnum Force in an old photograph which Harry turns around. The doctor tending to him after the first film's bank robbery intimates that "us Potrero Hill boys gotta stick together." The first film's novelization explains that Callahan grew up in this neighborhood and describes a hostile relationship between the police and the residents. Callahan recalls once throwing a brick at a cop, who picked it up and threw it back at him. The following sequels show that Harry lives within the city limits in a small studio apartment on Jackson St. in the Nob Hill area. In Magnum Force Harry's friend Charlie McCoy says "We should have done our 20 in the Marines", indicating that they served (or could/should have served) together in the armed forces. In The Dead Pool, a coffee mug on Harry's desk at the police station bears the United States Marine Corps seal.

Personality

Now you know why they call me Dirty Harry: every dirty job that comes along.
~ Callahan explaining why he's called "Dirty Harry"
Callahan is a calm and highly capable officer, highly skillful in reacting to dangerous situations and frequently shows sympathy for victims of crime. He is however highly determined to rescue hostages especially if they are in mortal peril, as shown in Dirty Harry, when determined to rescue a girl, forcibly stomps hard on the main antagonist's leg until he gives up the location. He has little patience for the system at times even regarding amendments as "crazy." and frequently believe that they are just time wasters or delayers. Callahan is a very "the end justices the means" figure. He believes it to be acceptable for him to break into a person's house without a permit and later torture a defenceless suspect as long as he can rescue a kidnapped girl from suffocation. Despite not being the most lawful figure, he will not recklessly kill a suspect and will give them a chance to come in quietly as he did with a bank robber in film one and later Scorpio whom he shot when he reached for his pistol.

He does acknowledge that the system is useful in the second film despite hating it, as he holds a large distrust of merely killing criminals unless justified, and on a number of occasions takes advantage of the loophole stating he can draw his weapon if needed as a means of halting armed robberies. He also largely disregards costs to the city as necessary sacrifices to stop crime, especially shown during confrontation with superiors. Callahan has a seriously strained relationship with his superiors and politicians depending on the movie. In the first film, his superiors and the mayor, although they disapprove of his actions, acknowledge their necessity, although Callahan frequently shows anger at his superiors and with the poloticians for being willing to negotiate with criminals or give in to their demands, frequently stating that it will get people killed, and has no qualms about chasing after criminals without authorization.

In film two, Callahan is more controversial, with several superiors showing concern about public rleations and rookies who see him as the right guy for the job. In the third film, his debate with superiors is more intense as evident in the opening where Callahan will increasingly resort to lethal force than stalling them. In film four Callahan is informed that his methods do get the job done, but there is tremendous physical destruction to the city and a bad public image for the police department.

Weapons

Callahan's signature weapon is a Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver, which he uses in all of the films. The gun's prominence in the films instantly popularized it. The character states the use of a "Light Special", .44 Special loads (a reference to the fact that .44 special cartridges can be fired in .44 magnum handguns), that he loads himself because it gives him "better accuracy and control in a gun this size". He also states that it's like using Wadcutters in a .357 Magnum. Both of these instances show Callahan's erudition in the arena of high-power handguns. The .44 magnum cartridge was developed by Elmer Keith by loading .44 special cartridges with very heavy bullets and amounts of smokeless powder. These heavy loads could, and can, destroy some light-framed .44 special handguns, and so when Remington chose to produce cartridges specifically for this caliber, they made sure the new .44 Magnum cartridges were so long that they would not fit in .44 special revolvers.

Callahan loses hold of his sidearm four times during the course of the series; first in Dirty Harry when Scorpio tells him to take it out and throw it when he is confronted at the cross in the park, in Magnum Force, second in Sudden Impact, then in The Dead Pool. In The Enforcer, Callahan doesn't lose it, however he doesn't employ it to kill the final villain (in favor of a portable rocket launcher). Additionally, inSudden Impact, Callahan temporarily upgraded to a .44 Automag. Contrary to popular belief, it was not an AMT firearm, but an original AMP AutoMag built specifically for that film.

In Dirty Harry, he used a Winchester Model 70 bolt action rifle in .458 Winchester Magnum for the night gunfight with the Scorpio Killer and used a switchblade during his second encounter with Scorpio. Harry also uses a Colt Python revolver to obtain ballistics evidence in Magnum Force. Other weapons Callahan uses initially in the final climax of other films include a bomb, an M72 LAW rocket launcher and aharpoon. In one film, Harry's partner Frank DiGiorgio, refers to Harry's gun as a "pocket-cannon".

Partners

It is a recurring theme in the Dirty Harry movies that Callahan has a high turnover of partners; most are killed or wounded while working with him. In Dirty Harry he mentions two unseen partners named Fanducci and Dietrich; Dietrich is in hospital having been shot while Fanducci is dead (in "The Enforcer" is it referenced that Fanducci was killed in 1968). His partner in Dirty Harry, Chico Gonzalez, is shot by Scorpio and though he survives, he decides to quit the police (in "Magnum Force" Harry remarks that Gonzalez became a college teacher after leaving the police force). His partner in Magnum Force, Earlington "Early" Smith is killed by a bomb planted in his mailbox. Kate Moore in The Enforcer is killed by terrorists while saving Callahan's life, after citing to him the names of previous dead officers (Fanducci and Smith) to demonstrate that she is aware of the risks of being his partner. In Sudden Impact Horace King is murdered by criminals who were waiting for Harry in his hotel room. Occasional Callahan partner Frank DiGiorgio was also killed, albeit whilst working with another officer. Of all Callahan's partners seen on screen, Al Quan and Gonzalez are the only two to survive.

Another theme explored in several movies is Callahan being assigned a partner he would instinctively resent being paired with, Chico Gonzalez because he is a rookie college graduate, and Kate Moore because she is a woman. However, they eventually earn his respect and both go on to save Harry's life.

Partner Movie Portrayed By Fate
Tom Fanducci Unseen Unknown Killed.
Fred Dietrich Unseen Unknown Wounded.
Frank DiGiorgio Dirty HarryMagnum Force, and The Enforcer John Mitchum Stabbed in the back.
Chico Gonzalez Dirty Harry Reni Santoni Wounded by Scorpio and resigned.
Earlington "Early" Smith Magnum Force Felton Perry Killed by a mail bomb.
Kate Moore The Enforcer Tyne Daly Shot with an M16.
Horace King Sudden Impact Albert Popwell Throat slit by a gang.
Al Quan The Dead Pool Evan C. Kim Survived an explosion.

Cultural recognition

Callahan is considered a film icon, so much so that his nickname, "Dirty Harry," has entered the lexiconas slang for ruthless police officers. Harry Callahan was voted number 23 by Empire Magazine on their list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters. Callahan was voted the 17th greatest movie hero on 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains. He was also named one of The 20 All Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture by Entertainment Weekly. He was also ranked 42nd by Premiere magazine on their list of the100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. The character also received recognition from the American Film Institute. Callahan's trademark weapon, the Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver, was named the second greatest movie weapon of all time, behind the lightsaber from Star Wars.

On AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes, two of Dirty Harry's famous lines ranked 6th and 51st, respectively:

Go ahead, make my day I know what you're thinking: 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?

The former phrase was borrowed by US President Ronald Reagan in a March 1985 speech to the American Business Conference. Promising to veto any proposed tax rises, he challenged those who wanted them to: "Go ahead, make my day." It has also given its name to a law in several US states, theMake My Day Law, which protects homeowners who use lethal force against intruders.

Additional notes

  • Callahan's SFPD badge number as briefly seen near the end of the first film is 2211 while his callsign is "Inspector 71".
  • In a December 2006 interview Clint Eastwood describes Callahan as living a "retired" life, and often jokes that if he were to reprise the character, Dirty Harry would be flyfishing with the .44 Magnum by now. On Late Show with David Letterman, he also joked that his character would have to chase the crooks with a walker.
  • In Magnum Force, Harry's last name Callahan is misspelled as "Calahan" in the end credits.
  • In all five films combined, Harry has killed 45 criminals total.
  • Eastwood good-naturedly reprises Harry's "do I feel lucky" line in a 2007 television ad promoting tourism in San Francisco, as he is seen golfing and suggests visiting tourists should feel lucky by challenging the city's golf courses.
  • In Back to the Future: The Game The name "Harry Callahan" can be chosen for Marty's Fake Identity in 1931; this is a nod to the third film in which Marty refers to himself as "Clint Eastwood" when he poses as a westerner in 1885.

In popular culture

  • Easily the most famous parody of "Dirty Harry" Callahan is Alan Spencer's cult TV series "Sledge Hammer!" where the character is exaggerated into a gun-worshipping buffoon. Nevertheless, as cited in a New York Times review, "Sledge Hammer!" was respectful and even "affectionate" towards the target of its satire. Indeed some of the early episodes have either a subtle nod to the Dirty Harry Series (such as John Vernon reprising his role as the Mayor of San Francisco), to full remakes (The episode "Magnum Farce" not only parodies Magnum Force by name but also in the plot). Spencer is an avowed Clint Eastwood fan. It's been indicated that Eastwood himself enjoyed "Sledge Hammer!" and cast the actor who played the title role, David Rasche, as a Senator in his acclaimed directorial effort, Flags of Our Fathers.
  • The entire "most powerful handgun in the world" speech is parodied in Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, when Captain Samuel Vimes threatens a rioting mob with a swamp dragon. In addition, the motto of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is dog Latin for "Make my day, punk." In The Art of Discworld, Pratchett notes that Paul Kidby draws Vimes to resemble Clint Eastwood.
  • TV series Hunter presents the main character Rick Hunter (Fred Dryer), a cop from Los Angeles whose inspiration is "Dirty Harry".
  • Callahan is acknowledged by comics writer John Wagner as the inspiration for the character of Judge Dredd.
  • Kim Newman's novels set in the Warhammer role-playing universe feature a former Altdorf watchman named "Filthy" Harald Kleindeinst, who was fired for killing the "wrong" man (a murderer who was also a nobleman) and whose trademark weapon is a "Magnin" throwing knife.
  • The lecture Callahan received from the mayor about a questionable shooting incident in the first film is spoofed in The Naked Gun.
  • Elements of Harry Callahan along with Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle from the The French Connection and Jack Carter from Get Carter were a major influence upon Euston Films Ltd in the creation of the popular British television police drama series The Sweeney and in particular its lead character Jack Regan played by John Thaw.
  • There are many parallels between Dirty Harry and Jack Bauer, the lead character on the television series 24. Like Harry, Bauer is a law enforcement officer with a strong desire to protect innocent civilians, although his actions to that end border on vigilantism as he deals with criminals (or Bauer's case, terrorists) with a "whatever it takes" attitude and often without regard for rules or legality. As with Callahan, Bauer's actions often bring him into conflict with his superiors and he is variously demoted and sidelined. Both characters emerged at a time when there was growing concern about crime (in the 1970s) and terrorism (in the 2000s). As one critic commented, "It is not hard to imagine Jack Bauer delivering Dirty Harry Callahan’s famous line ["Go ahead, make my day"] from the 1983 film Sudden Impact".
  • Two of the Lee Goldberg novels based on the television series Monk have tributes to Dirty Harry:
    • In the 2007 novel Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu, by Lee Goldberg, Jack Wyatt (nickname "Mad Jack"), one of the detectives on the skeletal crew that is put under Adrian Monk's charge during the SFPD police strike, bears similarities to Dirty Harry. Among other things, he is known to respond to everything from the overly dangerous to the merely annoying with swift violence and a .357 Magnum handgun (for instance, when Monk and Natalie meet Wyatt at one crime scene, they also observe a building fire nearby from a car crashing into a building. The car itself was being driven by a person mugging old women at ATMs, and Wyatt shot out his tires). He is also known to have been terminated after the city lost a number of police brutality cases against him.
    • Numerous nods to Dirty Harry are present in the 2009 novel Mr. Monk and the Dirty CopCaptain Stottlemeyer describes former SFPD detective Paul Braddock as a man who "will do anything to make a case, even if it means trampling over people's rights, or over the people themselves," which is just what Harry is known to do in the movies. At some points in the story, Lieutenant Disher speaks with an Eastwoodian accent, giving him the nickname "Dirty Randy". Coincidentally, after Natalie Teeger holds a crooked private investigations agency CEO up at gunpoint (and threatening to shoot him), Stottlemeyer jokingly calls her "Dirty Natalie".
    • Likewise, in Mr. Monk in Trouble (also published in 2009), while arresting a murder suspect, Randy quotes several of Harry's more famous lines (including "Go ahead, make my day," (fromSudden Impact) "A man's got to know his limitations" (from Magnum Force) and "Do ya feel lucky?" (from Dirty Harry)).
  • In the TV series Bottom, in the Burglary episode Eddie tells Ritchie he wishes from now on to be called "Dirty Eddie" a clear reference to Dirty Harry.
  • British virtual band Gorillaz included a track named Dirty Harry on their second album, Demon Days. The same band released a track named Clint Eastwood on their debut album Gorillaz.
  • In Back to the Future: The Game, Harry Callahan is one of the three aliases Marty McFly can choose. Also during the game Marty says "Go ahead, make my day".
  • In Bethesda's popular Fallout 3, the player can obtain a unique weapon variant named "Callahan's Magnum" from the Add-On Pack Broken Steel. This .44 Magnum is not equipped with a scope.
  • Dirty Harry is paid homage during the 226th episode of Dragon Ball Z, titled "Global Announcement". Super villain "Majin Buu" satisfies his appetite for sweets and candy by robbing (and heavily damaging) a local bakery. Law enforcement arrives promptly and opens fire on Buu. The policemen use firearms likely fashioned after the style of the 38. special except for one. This exception grimaces in the style of Dirty Harry while sporting stereotypical "Hollywood detective" attire such as a blazer or sports jacket and slacks. Unlike the other police officers, this character fires at Majin Buu with a much larger revolver resembling a S&W calibrated for 357.
    • the first reference to dirty harry in Dragonball Z, Vegeta while destroying one of the alien races, points his finger in the shape of a gun a says " go ahead, make my day"
  • In Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto III, there is a bridge named "Callahan Bridge".
  • In George Pan Cosmatos' movie Cobra, starring Sylvester Stallone, main character has an attitude similar to Callahan, story and theme are similar to '80s Dirty Harry movies and cast features two actors of original Dirty Harry movie, Andrew Robinson (Detective Monte) and Reni Santoni (Sergeant Tony Gonzales).
  • In "San Francisco's Finest: Gunning for the Zodiac(2012)," a crime suspense thriller novel by Joseph Covino, Jr, its central character, retired SFPD homicide inspector, Dave Toski, is Dirty Harry Callahan in disguise.
  • In the Simpsons, a television character called McGarnagle is a parody of Dirty Harry, as well as other Clint Eastwood hard-boiled cops.[2]
  • In the Mass Effect series, a commercial for a movie about a Hanar Spectre named Blasto (whose dialogue is very similar to Dirty Harry Callahan's famous quotes) is frequently heard/referenced.
  • In the 1990's X-MEN: The Animated Series, during the episode "The Dark Phoenix: Part II", Wolverine puts his own spin on Callahan's famous "Do I feel lucky?" speech. He replaces Harry's .44 Magnum with his adamantium claws, describing that they "can cut like a hot knife through butter, buddy" as he slowly, intimidatingly approaches a henchman who knows the rest of the captured X-Men's whereabouts.

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