Dirty Harry is a 1971 American crime thriller produced and directed by Don Siegel, the first in the Dirty Harry film series. Clint Eastwood plays the title role, in his first outing as San Francisco Police Department Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan.
Dirty Harry was a critical and commercial success and set the style for a whole genre of police films. The film was followed by four sequels: Magnum Force in 1973, The Enforcer in 1976, Sudden Impact in 1983 (directed by Eastwood himself), and The Dead Pool in 1988.
A sadistic serial killer calling himself "Scorpio" (Andy Robinson) murders a young woman in a San Francisco swimming pool, using a high-powered rifle from a nearby rooftop. SFPDInspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) finds a ransom message demanding the city pay him $100,000. Scorpio also promises that for each day that the city refuses his demand, he will commit a murder, and his next victim will be "a Catholic priest or a nigger". The chief of police and the Mayor (John Vernon) assign the inspector to the case, though the Mayor is reluctant because of an incident involving the shooting by Callahan of a naked man with a butcher knife chasing a woman the previous year in the city's Fillmore District.
While in a local diner, Callahan sees a bank robbery in progress and, alone with his revolver, he kills two of the robbers and wounds a third, challenging the man lying near a loaded shotgun: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 ya, punk?
After the robber surrenders, he tells Callahan that he must know if the gun was still loaded. Callahan dry fires the weapon while pointed directly at the robber, and then laughs after revealing it to be empty. He had taken a burst of gunfire in his leg, so later he meets a police doctor who treats the injury; the police doctor references that he is from Callahan's home district, Potrero Hill.
Assigned a rookie partner, Chico Gonzalez (Reni Santoni), Callahan complains that he needs someone experienced because his partners keep getting injured or worse. When Scorpio kills a young black boy from another rooftop, the police believe the killer will next pursue a Catholic priest. Callahan and Gonzalez wait for Scorpio near a Catholic church where a shootout ensues, but Scorpio escapes, killing a police officer disguised as a priest.
Scorpio kidnaps, rapes, and buries alive a teenage girl, then demands twice his previous ransom before the girl's air runs out. The mayor decides to pay, and tells Callahan to deliver the money with no tricks, but the inspector wears a wire, brings a knife, and has his partner follow him. As Scorpio sends Callahan to various payphones throughout the city to make sure he is alone, the chase ends at Mount Davidson. Scorpio brutally beats Callahan and tells him he'd decided to let the girl die anyway; Gonzalez comes to his partner's rescue but is wounded. Callahan stabs Scorpio in the leg, but the killer escapes without the money. Gonzalez survives his wound, but decides to resign from the force at the urging of his wife.
The doctor who treated Scorpio phones the police and tells Callahan and his new partner, Frank DiGiorgio (John Mitchum), that he has seen Scorpio in Kezar Stadium. Running out of time, the officers break into the stadium and Callahan shoots Scorpio in his wounded leg. When Scorpio refuses to reveal the location of the girl and demands a lawyer, Callahan tortures the killer by standing on the wounded leg. Scorpio confesses, but the police are too late to save the girl.
Because Callahan searched Scorpio's home without a warrant and improperly seized his rifle, the District Attorney decides that the killer cannot be charged. An outraged Callahan, warning that Scorpio will kill again because of the excitement that killing gives him, follows Scorpio on his own time. Scorpio pays a thug to give him a severe, but controlled beating, then claims the inspector is responsible. Despite his protests to the contrary, Callahan is ordered to stop following Scorpio.
After stealing a gun from a liquor store owner, Scorpio kidnaps a school bus load of children and demands another ransom and a plane to leave the country. The Mayor again insists on paying but when offered to deliver the ransom again, Callahan angrily refuses. Callahan, fed up with the way the city is handling the situation with Scorpio, instead pursues Scorpio without authorization, jumping onto the top of the bus from a railroad trestle. The bus crashes into a dirt embankment and Scorpio flees into a nearby rock quarry, where he has a running gun battle with Callahan. Scorpio keeps running until he spots a young boy (Andrew Robinson's stepson Steve Zachs in real life) sitting near a pond, and grabs him as a hostage.
The inspector feigns surrender, but fires, wounding Scorpio in his left shoulder. The boy runs away and Callahan stands over Scorpio, gun drawn. The inspector reprises his "Do you feel lucky, punk?" speech. Scorpio lunges for his gun, and Callahan shoots him in the chest, propelling Scorpio into the water. As Callahan watches the dead body float on the surface, he takes out his inspector's badge; after contemplating what will happen to him as a result of his actions, he hurls it into the water, before walking away.
- Clint Eastwood as SFPD Homicide Inspector Harry Callahan
- Andy Robinson as Scorpio
- Harry Guardino as SFPD Homicide Lt. Al Bressler
- Reni Santoni as SFPD Homicide Inspector Chico Gonzalez
- John Larch as Chief of Police
- John Mitchum as SFPD Homicide Inspector Frank "Fatso" DiGeorgio
- John Vernon as The Mayor of San Francisco
- Ruth Kobart as Marcella Platt (School Bus Driver)
- Woodrow Parfrey as Jaffe
- Lois Foraker as Hot Mary
- Josef Sommer as District Attorney William T. Rothko
- William Patterson as Bannerman
- Craig Kelly as Reineke
- Albert Popwell as Bank Robber