From Film Music on the Web’s
point of view this special edition of Dirty Harry is a disappointment.
Nowhere in the otherwise very good "the making of…" special
feature is there any mention of Lalo Schifrin’s music that contributed
so much to this atmospheric San Francisco cop caper. There were five
Dirty Harry films from Dirty Harry in 1971 to The Dead Pool
in 1988. Of these, four were scored by Schifrin. His music heightens
the suspense, drives the action and emotionally enhances the personal
stories. Director, Don Siegel had already collaborated with Eastwood
and Schifrin on Coogan’s Bluff (1968) and The Beguiled
(1970). Schifrin’s memorable score for Dirty Harry with its
significant motif for Harry (played on electric piano) and the unsettling
music for the psychotic killer, Scorpio, (featuring women’s voices)
drew praise from the critics: Time cited the "excellent,
eerie jazz score…" and L.A. Weekly referred to "Lalo
Schifrin’s watery, ghostly score".
Schifrin’s music for the Dirty Harry series is available
on Aleph Records and you can read the review of the recording on this
After 30 years, Dirty Harry, the first and
undoubtedly the best of the Dirty Harry thrillers still looks, and
sounds good. Those famous lines. "You’re probably thinking did
he fire six shots or only five…You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Do I feel
lucky?" – Well, do you punk?!?" and "Go ahead make
my day!", still resonate strongly. San Francisco, beautifully
photographed, is as much a star of the film as the actors. Dirty
Harry could be described as an urban western with Eastwood as
the lone wolf cop, exasperated and frustrated with legal decisions
that make courts corrupt and impotent and allow criminals to go free.
Dirty Harry, consequently, is a lone wolf, going beyond the law to
practise justice. Andy Robinson is mesmerising as his adversary, the
evil, deranged Vietnam veteran, come roof top sniper, Scorpio (with
as Don Siegel required the face of a choir boy). Excellent entertainment
– pity there was no acknowledgement of Schifin’s important contribution.