FILM 1651: DIRTY HARRY
TRIVIA: In 1972, a copycat crime took place in the state of Victoria in Australia, in which two men kidnapped a teacher and six pupils at gunpoint and demanded a 1 million dollar ransom. The state government agreed to pay, but the children managed to escape and the kidnappers were subsequently jailed. One of them was called Eastwood.
After Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel came on board the project, they hired writer Dean Riesner to work on the script. In his first rewrite, the bank robbery scene ends with Harry not pointing the gun at the robber, but placing it against his own temple. He pulls the trigger, laughs and then walks away. Eastwood and Siegel both felt this was too extreme, even for Harry Callahan.
The movie's line "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" was voted as the #51 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
Serial killer Scorpio was loosely based on the Zodiac killer, who used to taunt police and media with notes about his crimes, in one of which he threatened to hijack a school bus full of children. The role of Harry Callahan was loosely based on real life detective David Toschi who was the chief investigator in the Zodiac case.
When Clint Eastwood approached Don Siegel to offer him the directing job, Eastwood gave Siegel four drafts of the script, one of which was written by Terrence Malick. In Malick's script, he had altered Scorpio from being a mindless psychopath killing only because he likes it, to being a vigilante who killed wealthy criminals who had escaped justice. Siegel didn't like Malick's script, but Eastwood did, and Malick's ideas formed the basis for the sequel, Magnum Force (1973).
In September 1981, a case occurred in Germany, under circumstances quite similar to the Barbara Jane Mackle case: A ten-year-old girl, Ursula Hermann, was buried alive in a box fitted with ventilation, lighting and sanitary systems to be held for ransom. The girl suffocated in her prison within 48 hours of her abduction because autumn leaves had clogged up the ventilation duct. Twenty seven years later, a couple was arrested and tried for kidnapping and murder on circumstantial evidence. According to the Daily Mail, the couple were inspired by the scene in which Scorpio kidnaps a girl and places her in an underground box.
In a 2009 poll for MTV News, the character of Harry Callahan was voted the "Greatest Movie Badass of All-Time." Dirty Harry beat other movie icons like Rambo, Ellen Ripley and John McClane to the top spot.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.