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 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 you, punk?
Back at the station, Callahan is assigned a partner in rookie Chico Gonzalez (Santoni), over his objections that partners assigned to him keep ending up injured or killed. Suspecting that Scorpio will target a Catholic priest, as promised in his note, officers take up positions near Catholic churches all across the city, while helicopters provide additional eyes in the sky.
Callahan and Gonzalez manage to spot the Scorpio killer (Robinson) perched a few hundred yards from the entrance to a grandiose church. A chase and shootout ensues across numerous rooftops. Callahan and Gonzalez search the neighborhood frantically, at one point spotting a man carrying a large beige briefcase which they believe may house Scorpio's sniper rifle. Alas, the briefcase-toter ends up merely being a law-abiding denizen of North Beach with a topless girlfriend named Hot Mary and a surprisingly protective cabal of neighborhood hobos, who mistake Callahan's investigative snooping for voyeurism.
The next day, Callahan and Gonzalez report to a vacant lot where a young boy has been shot. The murdered child, true to the racist threat in Scorpio's note, is black. Fearing Scorpio might try once again to snipe a priest, officers redouble their efforts around the church where he'd been spotted the previous evening. The killer takes the bait, and a wild rooftop shootout ensues. Unfortunately, Scorpio escapes once again into the night- but not before killing an officer posing undercover as a priest.
Scorpio steps up his rampage by alerting police to his abduction of a 14 year-old girl. He demands a single person, carrying a ransom of $200,000 in a yellow bag, be at the Marina Green dock at 9 o'clock and await further instructions. Callahan volunteers, taping a switchblade to his ankle and a wire to his chest before heading out with the yellow duffel filled with cash. Scorpio calls a payphone at the rendezvous and gives Callahan his instructions: he will be given a meeting spot and a set time to get there in order to receive the next set of instructions. Callahan cannot speak to anyone, nor can he accept assistance from anyone. Any deviance from the instructions will end in the girl's immediate death. After running across half the town on a wild goose chase, Callahan heads into the darkness of a hilltop park to a final stand-off. When a man Callahan mistakes for Scorpio reveals himself to be just a random guy looking for some friendly cottaging, Callahan flashes his badge. "If you're vice, I'll kill myself," says the horrified man, conveying how disappointingly recently in our city's lifetime it was considered a depraved crime simply to be gay. Callahan responds by telling the man to "just do it at home." THAT HARRY!
As Gonzalez gets patched up, Callahan gets a tip-off that a man matching Scorpio's description was treated for a leg wound at an area hospital. The doctor who treated Scorpio points Callahan in the direction of a nearby stadium. Callahan finally catches up to Scorpio, pins him down, and digs into the leg wound until, screaming, Scorpio gives up the victim's location. Sadly, when the police arrive, the girl is already dead: Scorpio had never intended to let her live in the first place.
To Callahan's further disgust, Scorpio is released. Because he was wearing a mask when he assaulted Callahan and Gonzalez, he could not be confirmed as the assailant. What's more, his confession in the stadium is thrown out, owing to the extreme duress Scorpio was experiencing at the time it was given. Callahan is undeterred, and follows Scorpio throughout the city, from a playground to a striptease. In response, Scorpio pays a neighborhood rough $200 to beat him mercilessly, framing Callahan for his injuries. The gambit works, and Callahan is told in no uncertain terms by his superiors to back the hell off.
Scorpio immediately moves into action again, attacking a liquor store owner and stealing his gun. Using the gun, Scorpio hijacks a school bus, demanding once again a $200,000 ransom for the hostages' safe return. He additionally demands a fueled jet and informs police he will be driving to the North Bay to claim his ransom and transportation at a rural airport. Callahan takes it upon himself to meet Scorpio at the freeway exit, jumping from an overhead railroad trestle onto the bus, which pulls to a stop at a nearby quarry.
Callahan chases Scorpio further into the quarry, through a number of structures and ending at a small pond where a boy is fishing. Scorpio takes the boy hostage, and Callahan repeats his "do you feel lucky" speech one more time. This time it turns out there is one more bullet in the chamber after all, and he shoots Scorpio dead. Then, in a move I'm 100% sure inspired Katherine Bigelow for the ending of Point Break, Callahan removes his badge, observes it, then tosses it into the water before walking away.
School children make nice targets I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning just shoot out the frunt tire + pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out.
Aside from its very real origins in San Francisco legend, Dirty Harry is thoroughly San Franciscan in a way that few other films accomplish. Interior scenes are actually shot inside the buildings where exterior establishing shots take place. At many points, characters say they're heading somewhere specific, and then actually show up at that spot. Even if many of the filming locations hadn't already been scouted by dedicated fans ages ago, it would have been remarkably easy to track them all down for no other reason than they're practically listed in the script.
In fact, the only major location not in the Bay Area is the bank robbery towards the start of the film. You know the one, where Harry Callahan utters his infamous phrase:
The only other element of this film that pushes on the edges of the credible is the so-called 'ransom run,' where Callahan receives instructions from Scorpio over a relay of payphones in a number of locations. Scorpio explicitly tells Callahan that he cannot speak to anyone, so even though Callahan is wearing a wire that keeps Gonzalez and the rest of the force appraised of the situation, he still can't accept a car ride to the next destination. Which makes me wonder how long this run was meant to take, and what kind of shape Callahan was in. Although he clearly has Muni as an option, and takes the K from Forest Hill to Dolores Park, he's shown running to or from every other location in this segment. This is an excessively sprawling route with at least one double-back, and that's before you factor in San Francisco's unforgiving hilly terrain. Assuming that the ride from Forest Hill to Dolores Park is the only time Callahan used Muni on the ransom run, we can assume that between Marina Green and the confrontation at Mt. Davidson, he hoofed nearly 16 miles in about 5 hours.
The rooftop pool at the Holiday Inn (now the Hilton) no longer exists, but Scorpio's perch atop 555 California (the former Bank of America building) is still a distinctive fixture of the San Francisco skyline. During the credits, Callahan can be seen approaching 555 California from the building's south face, turning west onto Pine Street from Montgomery Street. It wouldn't be the last time this location would be used in a movie: Goldie Hawn drives her little yellow VW Beetle past the intersection in 1978's Foul Play, and the uniquely textured building was the setting for a significant portion of the action in this year's San Andreas.
Authenticity: 9.5/10- Frank Chu motorboating Carol Doda at a Doggie Diner.
IA Investigations: 7/10- If not the origin, then certainly the emblem, of the 'SFPD are terribly unprofessional' movie trope.
Overall: 8.5/10- A fine piece of filmmaking that makes you appreciate both the medium and the fact that you don't live in the 1970s.