I watched the last two Dirty Harry films this evening, while Jayne was up at the hospital visiting Frankie.
A few good set pieces. I had forgotten all about the Bullitt homage car chase with the radio-controlled car in The Dead Pool, Harry with his BFG in Sudden Impact and the boardwalk shootout. Really it is a great car chase, managing to reference the famous Steve McQueen chase through the streets of San Francisco and yet still be original. Not as exciting as the chase in Ronin, but then what is?
I noticed that the end credits started to get longer on the 4th film though. Not as excessive as current films but still listing all sorts of bag-carriers. I think the credits should be limited to anybody who would be eligible for an Oscar for their work (i.e. music, direction, editing, and so on), producers because they stump up the cash, and those where there is a legal obligation or that the average viewer would find genuinely interesting, but that’s just a personal bug-bear.
One fascinating thing with the films was seeing various actors in early roles like Jim Carrey as a drugged up rock star miming to Guns & Roses in Dead Pool, Liam Neeson as an annoying film director, David Soul pre-Starsky & Hutch and Tyne Daley pre Cagney & Lacy.
Some of the cameos are interesting too. Apparently Guns & Roses all appear inthe background of The Dead Pool, though I only noticed Slash – the hat is a bit of a give-away. Famously, Albert Popwell appears in four of the films as different characters. He was the robber in the first film who Harry gives the famous “do I feel lucky?” speech to, which makes it mildly amusing when he turns up as a black activist in the third film and Harry greets him with “do I know you?”.
The best name in the whole set of films has to be the actor Woodrow Palfrey but the strangest small-part actor surely has to be Harry Demopoulos. In Sudden Impact he played a doctor in the county hospital in San Paulo, and then in the Dead Pool he turned up as a (presumably) different doctor in a San Francisco hospital. It was a bit of a surprise to see him there because I remembered thinking he was a bit wooden in Sudden Impact. I wondered why they went out of their way to use him again.
In the credits I noticed that he was listed as Harry Demopoulos MD, so he was a real doctor. It explains why he wasn’t a great actor, but it is kind or ironic that he didn’t come across as natural when playing a doctor. It turns out that he is a bit of a pioneer in free radical research and also appeared in the Stallone film Cobra as ‘Dr Demopoulos’. His only other film appearance was in City Heat – as a roman orgy patron. Probably an off-duty doctor patronising a roman orgy.
What a great little nugget though – a doctor and pioneering medical researcher also appearing with Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone in a few movies.
The real bonus of watching all 5 Dirty Harry films over three nights is seeing the changes in San Francisco/America from 1971 to 1988. The clothes, the cars, the look of the city, all change over the films. By the time you get to film 4 and computers start popping up in the police offices it feels like a totally different time – but Harry still remains the same through it all.
Somehow it just wouldn’t have been the same if the studios had managed to go with the original plan to have Frank Sinatra as Harry Callahan.