Dirty Harry

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1971 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 98:19 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Don Siegel

Warner Home Video
Starring Clint Eastwood
Harry Guardino
Rene Santoni
Andy Robinson
John Larch
John Vernon
Case Snapper
RRP $34.95 Music Lalo Schifrin

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 1.0, 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0, 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    IN SHORT: Clint with hair and no wrinkles.

    Dirty Harry was the movie that started the Dirty Harry franchise for Clint Eastwood. Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is a no-nonsense San Francisco detective with a flair for ignoring the rules to get the crim. He's not a racist - he hates everybody. The unfortunate crim in this situation is Scorpio (Andy Robinson), a real nasty fruitcake who has taken to shooting the inhabitants of San Francisco one a day until his ransom is paid.

    Dirty Harry doesn't like this one bit, and goes after Scorpio with a dogged tenacity that makes for great viewing.

Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    This transfer starts off marvellously well, and I was all set to begin raving about the quality of the transfer until it takes a sudden nosedive when the darker scenes begin to appear.

    The transfer is quite soft overall, with none of the sharp and clear definition we are used to seeing in contemporary transfers. Admittedly, this is a 28 year old movie, so some allowances have to be made, however, I have certainly seen much better than what is on offer here. In a nutshell, whenever the transfer is strained, it falls in quality dramatically. Shots in bright daylight come through superbly, but the darker shots are where this transfer falls over. Film grain periodically intrudes into the image.

    The black level of this transfer is very variable, and darker scenes are marred by the black level oscillating up and down, giving these scenes a "pumping" effect. Speaking of darker scenes, there is little to no shadow detail in these scenes, with details simply disappearing into the blackness. This may very well be a reflection of the film stock used, rather than any fault of the transfer. What is the fault of the transfer, however, is the significant low level noise exhibited by the blacks in these darker scenes - a very noisy picture indeed and something which is only very rarely seen on DVD.

    The colours were variably rendered, though I suspect that this is a reflection of the original film rather than any problem with the transfer. Scenes in bright daylight were vibrant and clear, but colours were unbalanced in low lighting conditions.

    MPEG artefacts were occasionally seen in this transfer, mainly consisting of macro-blocking and subsequent loss of image detail. This particularly affected the lower-lit scenes, though some panning shots where there is a lot of detail in the image also lose detail and show signs of macro-blocking. I cannot help but feel that this is an early transfer from Warner Home Video, and that RSDL formatting with the subsequent increase in bit-rate that this would have allowed would have remedied these problems.

    Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some image wobble at times, and some moderate aliasing, though nothing particularly dreadful - the sharpness was simply not there in this transfer to allow for much in the way of aliasing.

    Film artefacts were variably present. The early part of the movie was pristine, but later on, there are artefacts galore at times. It is clear that variable quality source elements were used for this transfer because of the large variation in quality of the image between reels, including some reels where reel change markings were noted (circles in the top right hand corner - or in this case, ovals).


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD - the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack. I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    In contrast to the variable quality of the image, the audio transfer is superb, and is by far the best 5.1 remix from a mono source that I have heard to date. Typically, a 5.1 remix from a mono source tends to be simply a stereo music score with dialogue and effects remaining in mono. This remix aggressively uses the entire 5.1 palette, and is very impressive indeed.

    Dialogue was relatively clear and easy to follow at all times. It was not up to the quality of contemporary dialogue tracks but it wasn't all that far off. Certainly, Harry's trademark "Do you feel lucky..." comes through with excellent clarity!

    Audio sync was generally spot-on, with a few ADR lines looking a bit suspect.

    The score by Lalo Schifrin is dated but suits the overall look of the movie perfectly.

    The surround channels were extremely well utilized, with sound effects precisely placed within the soundfield, and good use made of split surround effects for helicopter noises and gunshots. Music was also mixed into the rear surrounds. The overall effect was of a remarkably immersive soundtrack that comes close to some of the more modern 5.1 soundtrack mixes in its ability to envelop the listener.

    The .1 channel was nicely used to underscore the more significant action sequences on-screen, such as gun shots.


    This disc has no extras.


R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     There is nothing compelling here to prefer one version over the other.


    Dirty Harry is classic Eastwood.

    The video quality is variable, and varies from excellent to dreadful, which is a shame.

    The audio quality is remarkably good.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
2nd December 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer