14 Fascinating Facts About Clint Eastwood’s ‘Dirty Harry’

Stills of Thor and of Wanda from Wandavision

The 1971 action-thriller Dirty Harry was an iconic movie for Clint Eastwood, who portrayed a San Francisco Police Officer named Harry Callahan. The role of Harry Callahan eventually grew to be one of Eastwood’s signature roles. Soon after the release of Dirty Harry, 4 other movies in the series were released. Check out these 14 facts about Dirty Harry that you might not know already. Beware though, this may contain some spoilers!

1- We know the film as Dirty Harry, but what if it had a different name? The original title of the film was set to be Dead Right before it was changed to the name that we know today. The movie was also originally set in Seattle before it was moved to San Francisco.

2- Clint Eastwood performed his own stunts for Dirty Harry. In the scene where Harry Callahan jumps from a bridge to the top of a moving school bus, you can see his face clearly.

3- When you think of Dirty Harry, you may think of the quote, “Do you feel lucky, punk?”. Interestingly, this famous line has been misquoted! Harry Callahan never actually says this. Instead, the line is, “is “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”

Dirty Harry image

4- Dirty Harry had an impact on the real world too. A Police Department in the Philippines is said to have ordered copies of the film for training purposes. There were also two ‘copycat hostage crimes’ (in Australia and Germany) that seemed to be inspired by the film.

5- The movie was such a success that Clint Eastwood and director Don Siegel were invited to police gatherings. Both of them weren’t actual police officers though.

6- The character Harry Callahan was ranked 17 on “The American Film Institute’s list of The 50 Greatest Movie Heroes of All-Time” in 2003. The film also made about $36 million in North America, landing it the spot of the fourth-biggest movie in 1971.

7- A victim of the Scorpio Killer, Ann Mary Deacon, was played for Debralee Scott. The character was only seen nude, but when filming for this scene began, Scott was incredibly cold and could not stop shivering. Originally, the scene was going to be up close, but after a few takes, the scene became a long shot so the shivering wouldn’t be noticeable.

Still of Dirty Harry catching a bad guy

8- Initially, critics disliked the film. Many believed that Dirty Harry portrayed police brutality. During the 44th Academy Awards, a group of protesters even gathered outside of the building with signs that said ‘Dirty Harry is a Rotten Pig’.

9- The final, iconic scene where Harry tossed his badge away was only shot once. When filming, the crew realized that they had only brought one badge to the location, so Clint Eastwood had to throw it perfectly.

10- The actor for the Scorpio Killer seemed to have a babyface, but that was no accident. Director Don Siegel cast Andrew Robinson because he wanted someone “with a face like a choirboy”.

11- Andrew Robinson played a convincing Scorpio Killer, but unfortunately, it may have been a little too convincing. After the release of Dirty Harry, Robinson received many death threats and eventually had to get an unlisted phone number.

Still of the Scorpio Killer

12- When used properly, product placement in movies can increase sales drastically. This happened with the Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver. After its appearance in Dirty Harry, the sales of this gun went way up.

13- You may have noticed that the Scorpio Killer is shown wearing a peace symbol buckle on his belt, and this is intentional. Don Siegel went on to say, “It reminds us that no matter how vicious a person is, when he looks in the mirror, he is still blind to what he truly is.”

14- Ever wonder if the movie is based on real life? Dirty Harry is loosely based on the story of the Zodiac killer. Just in case you aren’t sure who this is, the Zodiac killer was a serial killer active during the ‘60s and ‘70s in the San Francisco Bay Area. Clint Eastwood’s character is also based on the chief investigator for the Zodiac Killer case; David Toschi.

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