A rape victim is exacting revenge on her agressors in a small town outside San Francisco. Dirty Harry, on suspension for angering his superiors (again), is assigned to the case.
Release Year: 1983
Rating: 6.5/10 (15,400 voted)
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle
A vicious serial-killer is on the loose in San Francisco and the police trace a link to a small town further down the coast. When Harry Callahan upsets the press and the mayor in his usual style, he's shipped out of town to investigate while the heat is on. With the help of his new Magnum handgun Harry goes on the trail leaving behind the usual trail of dead criminals along the way.
Writers: Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink
(as Audrie J. Neenan)
Kevyn Major Howard
Dirty Harry is at it again.
Release Date: 9 December 1983
Filming Locations: 1000-1600 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, California, USA
Opening Weekend: $9,688,561
(11 December 1983)
(18 March 1984)
Did You Know?
Clint Eastwood is seen wearing Gargoyles sunglasses, which would later surface in
Jennifer's last name is spelled "Spenser" on the sign in the gallery but "Spencer" in the end credits.
Historical Society Woman:
It must give you a great amount of satisfaction to make old ugly things right again.
Yes, sometimes it does.
Dirty Harry is Back, Big time
The vigilante has long held a fascination for audiences, inasmuch as it
evokes a sense of swift, sure justice; good triumphs over evil and the bad
guy gets his deserts. It is, in fact, one of the things that has made the
character of Dirty Harry Callahan (as played by Clint Eastwood) so popular.
He carries a badge and works within the law, but at heart, Harry is a
vigilante, meting out justice `his' way, which often puts him in conflict
with his own superiors, as well as the criminals he's pursuing. But it's
what draws the audience; anyone who's ever been bogged down in bureaucratic
nonsense of one kind or another, delights in seeing someone cut through the
red tape and get on with it– even if it's only on the screen. And that
satisfaction derived from seeing justice done– and quickly– is one of the
elements that makes `Sudden Impact,' directed by and starring Eastwood, so
successful. In this one, the fourth of the series, while working a
homicide, Harry encounters a bona fide vigilante at work– an individual
whose brand of justice parallels his own, with one exception: Whoever it
is, he's definitely not carrying a badge.
In his own inimitable way, Inspector Callahan has once again ended up on the
bad side of the department and is ordered to take some vacation time. So he
does; as only `Dirty Harry' can. In a small town north of San Francisco,
Harry finds himself smack dab in the middle of a homicide case, which he
quickly links to a recent murder in San Francisco because of the unique M.O.
employed by the perpetrator. Unaccountably, Harry encounters resistance
from the local Police Chief, Jannings (Pat Hingle), who advises him to take
his big city tactics and methods elsewhere. Not one to be deterred,
however, Harry continues his investigation, which ultimately involves a
beautiful and talented young artist, Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke).
Gradually, Harry discovers a link between the victims; the burning question,
though, is where does Jennifer Spencer fit into the picture?
Eastwood is in top form here, both in front of and behind the camera, and it
is arguably the second best of the five-film series, right behind the
original `Dirty Harry.' It had been seven years since the last `Harry'
offering (`The Enforcer,' 1976), but Eastwood steps right back into the
character with facility and renewed vigor. And this one definitely benefits
from having him in the director's chair, as he is able to recapture the
essence of, not only his own character, but that `spirit' that made these
films so successful, and he does it by knowing the territory and
establishing a continuity that all but erases that seven year gap between #s
3 and 4. As with all the films he directs, Eastwood sets a deliberate pace
that works perfectly for this material and creates just enough tension to
keep it interesting and involving from beginning to end.
The screenplay, by Joseph Stinson, is well written and formulated to that
distinctive `Dirty Harry' style; the dialogue is snappy and the story itself
(conceived by Charles B. Pierce and Earl E. Smith) is the most engaging
since the original `Dirty Harry,' as it successfully endeavors to play upon
the very personal aspects of the drama, rather than entirely upon the
action. The characters are well drawn and convincing, and, of course, this
is the film that gave us one of Harry's best catch-phrases: `Go, ahead–
make my day…'
As Harry, Clint Eastwood perfectly embodies all of the elements that make
this character so popular: He lives by a personal moral code, a true
individual made of the kind of stuff we envision as that of the pioneers who
settled this country and made America what it is today. Harry personifies
that sense of freedom and justice we all strive for and hold so dear,
possibly more so today than ever before. No matter who we are or where we
come from, there's undeniably a part of us that wants to be Harry, or at
least have him around. `Dirty Harry' is an icon of the cinema, and it's
impossible to envision anyone but Eastwood portraying him; for better or
worse, Eastwood `is' Dirty Harry, without question, just as Sean Connery is
James Bond and Basil Rathbone, Sherlock Holmes.
Sondra Locke is entirely effective here in the role of Jennifer Spencer, a
young woman wronged and out for vengeance, or as she sees it, `justice.'
She manages to bring a hard-edged determination laced with vulnerability to
her character, with a convincing, introspective approach that is far beyond
what is typical of the `action' genre. Even amid the violence, Locke keeps
her focus on Jennifer and the traumatic events that have brought her to this
stage of her life. Her portrayal makes a perfect complement to Eastwood's
Harry, and becomes, in philosophy and deed, something of his
In supporting roles, two performances stand out: Paul Drake, as Mick,
creates the best `psycho' since Andy Robinson's dynamic portrayal of the
serial killer in the original `Dirty Harry.' With actually very limited
screen time, Drake establishes a genuinely disconcerting presence that is
believable and convincing, which adds much to the purely visceral response
of the audience. This is the guy you can't wait to see Harry take care of
in the end. Also effective is Audrie J. Neenan, who makes her character,
Ray Parkins, the epitome of the proverbial `low life,' who can be found in
any bar in any city. It's a performance that evokes a gut-level response,
and it adds greatly to the credibility of the film, in that it helps provide
that necessary sense of realism.
The supporting cast includes Albert Popwell (Horace), Mark Kevloun (Bennett)
and Nancy Parsons (Mrs. Kruger). With a perfect blend of drama and action,
`Sudden Impact' dispenses justice that is a fulfilling respite from reality;
the perfect justice of a not-so-perfect world, that makes for a satisfying
cinematic experience. 9/10.