This diamond hard, brilliant, big band jazz-based collection of Dirty Harry
scores commences with words that are now almost legendary to film fans: "Ah
hah! I know what youre thinking. Did he fire six shots or only
.do you feel lucky? Well, do you punk?!?"
Schifrins abrasive and powerful music with its hectic-paced, hard-driven
rhythms is entirely appropriate for the taut urban thrillers of the San
Francisco-based Dirty Harry series which began with Dirty Harry in
1971 and ended with The Dead Pool in 1988.
Of the five films in the series, Schifrin scored four. The memorable signature
motif for Dirty Harry himself is announced on electric piano in the opening
cue Dirty Harrys Creed. Much of this score is very dark,
frightening even. Take the cue Floodlights for instance, where
there are evocative glissandi and clashing dissonances and running pizzicato
string figures, and weird effects including subtle distressed female voices.
Then there is the theme for the maverick vigilante cops of Magnum Force
where, again, Schifrin uses female voices to forge the link between these
first two films in the series plus harsh unrelenting snare drum motifs and
dark synth material The Cop. In this score Schifrin weaves car
radio voices into his synth tapestry. In Unicorns Head
he adds electronic organ and writes shadowy stealthy, stalking material,
and a calliope sound suggests some demented fairground merry-go-round. These
three tracks, especially, are the stuff nightmares are made of.
Some relief is found in the more relaxed opening of Road to San
Paulo which suggests a romantic interlude but as the tempo picks up
one wonders how relaxing the journey really is. More settled is San
Francisco after Dark. After glittering opening bars, the music becomes
romantically smoochy, saxophone prominent with piano, drums and sweetening
But it is for the tense suspenseful music, that Schifrin delivers in spades,
that this album is famed for just dont listen to it late at
night if you are by yourself.