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Film: Sudden Impact

"Go ahead, make my day."
Harry Callahan

Sudden Impact (1983) is the fourth film featuring Clint Eastwood as Detective "Dirty" Harry Callahan.

After a number of high profile run-ins with people trying to kill him, Inspector Harry Callahan is sent to a small town to investigate the murder of a local man found dead in a car. More deaths occur, responsible of which is one Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke), who is out to avenge the gang-rape she and her sister were subjected to in the past.

This film has the examples of:

  • Amusement Park: The climax takes place in a closed amusement park, also known as the Santa Cruz pier.
  • Asshole Victim: Everyone Jennifer kills.
  • Batman Cold Open: The film opens with Harry running into a diner robbery.
  • Big Bad: The rapists were an ensemble, but Mick is clearly the one calling the shots.
  • Breast Attack: One woman was involved in the gang-rape - Jennifer shoots her in the breast.
  • California Doubling: Though the scenes in San Francisco were filmed on location, the second half of the film in the fictitious town of San Paulo was actually filmed in Santa Cruz. For the record, that wooden roller coaster that Harry shoots Mick off of at the end is the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.
  • Captain Ersatz: Captain Briggs is essentially Captain McKay from The Enforcer especially given that they're played by the same actor.
  • Click Hello: An armed man is sneaking up on Harry who is doing target practice, because of several threats on his life. As the man almost reaches him, Harry spins around, cocking the gun, then recognizing the man and saying "Horace!" (the man is Harry's partner).
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Mick is having rough sex with a woman, and hurting her, and enjoying that it hurts her, when the phone rings. He continues to have painful (to her) sex with this woman, while on the phone, after answering the phone with an obscene response.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film when compared to the other Dirty Harry films, due to its rape theme as well as being considered the darkest, dirtiest, and most violent of the series.
  • Description Porn: Harry on the AMC Auto Mag:
    "Well, this is the .44 Magnum Auto Mag and it holds a 300 grain cartridge. And if properly used, it can remove the fingerprints."
    • It's not entirely clear what 'proper' technique could result in a suspect losing all of his fingers and both his thumbs, particularly considering the weapon only holds a maximum of 8+1 rounds, but no doubt Clint would find a way...
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: One is heard in every scene which has Harry brandishing his gun.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Harry's partner Horace calls him a "jamf" twice before Harry asks him, "What the hell's a 'jamf'?" Horace replies, "That means you're a Jive-Ass Mother--" "Forget I asked!"
  • Gender Flip: Meathead suddenly becomes a female dog in the scene where he/she alerts Harry to an intruder.
  • Groin Attack: When Jennifer Spencer goes on her vendetta against the people who raped her and her sister, she shoots the rapists she tracks down in the groin before shooting them dead.
  • Hand Cannon: Harry's .44 AutoMag because Caliber Size Marches On. note 
  • Hospitality for Heroes: The novelization of the film mentions that Harry received his unusual .44 Automag pistol as a gift from a custom gunsmith after he had saved the man's wife... probably by killing those endangering her, knowing Harry. It's suggested that he is often offered free stuff, because the text states that the pistol is the only such gift he ever accepted.
  • Kick the Dog: A literal example: Mick and Kruger's brothers-in-law injure Harry's dog after killing his buddy Horace. It's unclear exactly what they do to the dog, but we see the poor thing limping.
  • Let Off by the Detective: At the climax of the story, one of Jennifer's would-be victims holds her hostage with her own gun and Harry kills the man to save her. When the police show up to investigate, Harry shows them the gun in the man's hand and convinces them that he was responsible for all the killings.
  • Meet Cute: Cited in the commentary when Harry and Jennifer meet for the first time
  • Molotov Cocktail: Harry is being pursued by armed thugs. At one point they throw a molotov into his car, but he manages to throw it back at them.
  • Off on a Technicality: One perp is shown getting off on easy, and later rubs it on Harry's face.
  • Oh, Crap: When the man that raped Jennifer Spencer and his friends are about to repeat the "experience" when one of them says "Crap". Cue Harry Callahan with a BFG, ready for the men to make his day.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: When Harry gets his usual morning coffee, the café is being robbed; everyone is being forced to act naturally, but the waitress (knowing Harry's usual is "no sugar, no milk") adds lots of sugar. Harry, distracted by some case work he's going over, just pays and leaves with the cup. Outside, he takes a sip, spits it out and turns back to the diner.... then notices "patrons" locking the doors and turning the "Open/Closed" signs around, figures out what's up, and goes around to come in through the back.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner
    Harry Callahan: We're not gonna let you walk outta here.
    Crook: Who's "we", suckah!?!
    Harry Callahan: (reaching for his gun) Smith, Wesson... and me.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Jennifer smashes the mirror resembling the image she painted of herself.
  • Rape and Revenge: Forms the plot of the flm.
  • Rape Leads To Insanity: Jennifer's sister went catatonic when the two of them were gang-raped.
  • Rasputinian Death: Mick is first shot several times by Harry while on the Giant Dipper's catwalk, stumbles backwards through the railing, falls several stories, crashes through the roof of the moving carousel and is impaled on a unicorn.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Harry gets sent to the main location after he kills a bunch of rapists in self-defense.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: This trope describes Jennifer Spencer - she's picking off the guys who raped her and her sister a long time ago, one at a time. Until she gets taken hostage by the few gang members who she has not targeted yet, but they get dispatched by Harry. When her revolver is found on the leader's body, Harry even lets Jennifer off the hook by pinning the murders on the rapist.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Higher-ups try to do this to Harry after his harassment of an old mobster at his daughter's wedding results in a heart attack they order him to take a vacation. While on vacation some punks try to take him down with a molotov cocktail and he forces them off a pier to their deaths. They end his vacation, but send him out of town on another case.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Harry. But she started it.
  • You Look Familiar: Instead appearing as a mook, Albert Popwell now plays a policeman.


Dirty HarryFilms of the 1980sThe Dead Pool
CasablancaAFIS 100 Years 100 Movie QuotesSunset Boulevard

alternative title(s): Sudden Impact
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