YMMV / Dirty Harry

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Many viewers agree with Harry's tough, aggressive methods, whereas others seem to find fascist undertones in the film.
  • Complete Monster: Charles Davis, better known as The Scorpio Killer, is a psychotic madman who kills for money, but mainly for his own amusement. After sniping a swimming woman, he demands $100,000 in payment or he will continue his killing spree. After he is foiled in another killing attempt, he murders a young boy by blowing off his face and then makes an attempt to kill a priest, killing a police officer in the process. He then kidnaps a 14-year-old girl and buries her alive, demanding a ransom in exchange for her life. The girl is implied to have been raped by characters in the film and in a letter from Scorpio in which he claims she has "nice tits" and a mole on her thigh. When Harry Callahan arrives with the money, Scorpio strikes him down and reveals that he was going to let the girl die anyways. The police find the girl, but are unable to save her life, finding her lifeless and naked. Scorpio's final gambit is to hold a school bus full of children hostage, planning to kill them all. Upon being foiled by Callahan, Scorpio threatens to shoot a young boy fishing. He finally attempts to shoot Callahan before being shot dead. Cowardly and sadistic, Scorpio provides a contrast with loose cannon cop Harry Callahan, who, despite his methods, ultimately aimed to give criminals apt punishments when the bureaucratic justice system wouldn't.
  • First Installment Wins: The first film is easily the one that has retained the greatest stature in pop culture, to the point that some people forget that "Go ahead, make my day" didn't originate from it.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Scorpio crosses the line when he gleefully shoots children.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Harry's gun firing. So much that it was used in The Terminator (Orion Pictures version), Death Wish 3 (Paul Kersey's .475 Wildey Magnum), Young Indiana Jones, Code of Silence, Lethal Enforcers (the player's default gun), DonPachi (when the game tallies up the player's bomb stock), Resident Evil (Barry Burton's gun in the FMV intro), and Project X Zone (Mii Koryuji's Dragon Jewel rifle in the opening).
  • Narm: The Dirty Harry franchise has had its unintentionally funny moments:
  • Never Live It Down: Andy Robinson had to change his address after receiving a lot of death threats following his performance as Scorpio.
  • Referenced by...: In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Grace tells Ed Rooney that he sounded like Dirty Harry when he declared he had to put an end to Ferris's supposed bad influence on the student body. He briefly tries to make his best Dirty Harry face, then shakes it off and sincerely thanks her for her flattery.
  • Sequelitis: General consensus seems to be that each film is successively weaker than the last, although there are some who argue that Sudden Impact is better than The Enforcer was.
  • Tear Jerker: The mother of Charlie Russell reacting to her son's brutal murder, mentioning that he was only 10 years old. You want to give the poor woman a hug. Plus, the discovery of Anne Mary Deacon's naked corpse.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Despite Siegel and Eastwood disavowing any political intent, Dirty Harry was extremely controversial when released. Critics (notably Pauline Kael) attacked it as a "fascist" endorsement of police brutality, the ACLU and other liberal organizations picketed its premiere, and the press savaged it both for its alleged politics and graphic violence. However, this backlash redounded to its benefit, as conservative viewers (including police organizations and Richard Nixon, who invited Eastwood to the White House after seeing it) loved the movie for the same reasons liberals hated it.