March 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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DVD Review

Film: Dirty Harry with music by Lalo SCHIFRIN starring Clint Eastwood; directed by Don Siegel
  WARNER DVD Video Z1 21516   [99 mins approx]

Dirty Harry


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 site.

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.

Ian Lace

Film: *****; DVD feaures: ***

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