HTF REVIEW: The Dirty Harry Series

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Nov 15, 2001.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    The Dirty Harry series

    One man. One gun. One clear vision of right and wrong
    First, I must apologize that this review will
    be a brief synopsis of the entire set. Warner
    Brothers sent screeners out very late -- only days
    before sale to the general public. In order to
    get this review up first, I did not get to spend as
    much time as I would have liked watching each and
    every movie in its entirety. Still, my review will
    give you a very good idea as to the quality of this
    collection.
    It's amazing that it took Warner Brothers 4 years
    to release this collection to DVD. After all, the
    Dirty Harry franchise was huge success for
    Warner Brothers between the years 1971-1988. Though
    the films varied in individual success, some of the
    most memorable lines in movie history came from these
    films, including "Do you feel lucky, punk?" and
    "Make My Day". This was the series that fans have been
    patiently waiting for, and its an honor to finally
    have this set in hand.
    The Dirty Harry Series is part of the Clint
    Eastwood Collection. Enclosed in a rather handsome
    sturdy box is the 5 individual DVDs. Each DVD contains
    the original poster art for that title.
    When I first popped in Dirty Harry, I became
    quite concerned. The opening sequence is not in
    great shape. There is excessive grain and film wear.
    This continues through the entire opening credits
    with Harry Callahan (Eastwood) walking on a San
    Francisco rooftop, and it makes you wonder how bad
    the rest of this film is going to look.
    Fortunately, as soon as the title sequence ends,
    the film looks pretty decent. The picture is no
    longer plagued by worn film elements, and instead,
    we are treated to a very sharp and colorfully vivid
    transfer with a very strong 2-channel soundtrack.
    This is the very first time I have seen this
    film in its proper widescreen presentation. One of
    the advantages to seeing this film widescreen is that
    in the Pan & Scan version you never got to see the
    little "in" joke that I just discovered. Around the
    corner from the bank that gets robbed, is a movie
    theater marquee displaying "Play Misty For Me". It
    appears on the right side of the screen, and probably
    has been lost in all previous P&S transfers.
    And what about that famous bank scene? After all
    these years it was great to watch Harry intercept a
    robber while giving his famous .44 Magnum dialogue.
    Certainly one of the most memorable scenes in film
    history.
    The SUPPLEMENTAL area contains some interesting
    documentaries. First up is an original 1971 featurette,
    "Dirty Harry's Way", which takes us to San
    Francisco and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the movie
    being filmed. More interestingly, the featurette compares
    cop movies of the 30's and 40's (with scenes featuring
    Cagney and Bogart) with the Dirty Harry of the 70's.
    The quality of the documentary is in pretty poor shape,
    but nevertheless, it is worth the watch.
    A new documentary, Dirty Harry: The Original, has
    been produced exclusively for this new DVD. It's a
    lengthy time capsule look at all the Dirty Harry films.
    Hosted by Robert Urich, this documentary
    features new interviews with the many film directors
    and stars of all 5 Dirty Harry films, including
    Hal Holbrook, Patricia Clarkson and Evan Kim.
    Of course, we get to watch Mr. Eastwood himself talk
    about his recollections of the series. There's also a surprise
    interview in the documentary that I will not
    spoil for you, other to say that it's a huge
    actor whose career was influenced by Dirty Harry.
    The documentary is well produced and you'll just
    love the fact that a collage of scenes are shown
    against the hip music of In a Gada Davida.
    Well done!
    Interview Gallery consists of 10 short snippets
    of interviews from 10 actors/directors/writers who
    worked on the various films. Actor Hal Holbrook
    talks about being happy he's finally recognized in a
    film. Writer John Milius talks about how he
    obtained the original .44 Magnum. Director Ted Post
    talks about his ideas about heroes.
    The disc is rounded out with a less substantial roundup
    of extras such as Behind The Scenes and
    On Location that are merely a few pages of text
    that give tidbits of information about where the key
    scenes were filmed or facts like Paul Newman originally
    turning down the role as Dirty Harry. Memorable
    Lines will give you word-for-word, the famous
    lines uttered in the Dirty Harry film. Finally, the
    original Theatrical Trailer is featured.
    ====================
    Released in 1973, Magnum Force finds itself
    looking at vigilante cops who take it upon themselves
    to use their own methods to rid the city of criminals.
    Hoping that Harry Calahan will embrace their tactics
    becomes their biggest mistake.
    The overall transfer quality is a noticeable improvement
    over the first DVD. Picture is very sharp, clean, and
    colorfully vivid. Most noticeable improvement is
    in the audio. This is the first of the remaining 4 DVD
    titles to be remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1. The
    result is quite amazing for a film that was never intended
    to have a 5.1 mix. There is abundant usage of the
    surrounds, most notably as ambiance effects in crowds.
    But take a listen to the scene where Harry Callahan is
    forced to fly a jet airliner. The audio is pretty
    intensified for a film of that age. We hear the low-bass
    rumble of the airplane emanating from the subwoofer. We
    hear the rear surrounds come alive as the jet engines
    rev up and pass from the back soundstage to the front.
    Included on this disc is a supplemental documentary,
    The Hero Cop: Yesterday and Today, an
    original promotional film from 1973 that uses newsreel
    footage to compare law enforcement of the 1930s to the
    law enforcement of the 70's. There are quite a few
    behind-the-scenes shots of key sequences from this film
    being shot, including the department store stakeout.
    The documentary is in much better shape than the
    original documentary shown on the Dirty Harry DVD.
    Also included is a Theatrical Trailer and
    the same On Location, Behind The Scenes and
    Memorable Lines text features that I described
    in the original Dirty Harry DVD.
    ====================
    The Enforcer became the third film of the
    Dirty Harry franchise, released in 1976. Teamed
    with his first female partner, Tyne Daly
    (I can't belive how cute she looked back then), Harry
    takes on political extortionists.
    The transfer quality is on par with the other DVDs
    I have reviewed thus far. Transfer quality goes
    from very good to excellent. I can't understand,
    however, why this DVD shows another example of a
    decent transfer except for the title sequence where
    there is an abundant amount of film dirt and wear
    present in the print. Otherwise, scenes like the
    liquor store robbery near the beginning of the film
    show off the overall clean clarity of the transfer.
    Darker scenes, like ammunition being unloaded in a
    warehouse, show excessive grain in the transfer.
    Again, the new remastered 5.1 Digital Mix actively
    uses surrounds for rear ambiance effects.
    The Supplementals include another original
    Harry Callahan documentary from that period that
    shows the making of The Enforcer. Also
    included: a Theatrical Trailer and
    the same On Location, Behind The Scenes and
    Memorable Lines text features that I described
    in the prior Dirty Harry DVDs.
    ====================
    Seven years have passed since the last Dirty Harry
    film. Clint was releasing some of his most memorable
    films of that period (Any Which Way but Loose,
    Escape From Alcatraz, Firefox). It came to no
    surprise that Eastwood eventually reprised his role
    of Dirty Harry in 1983's Sudden Impact, that
    involved itself with a vicious serial-killer on
    the loose in San Francisco. This was the film that
    made "Go ahead, Make My Day" the most repeated quote
    of the decade (and decades to come).
    The first inclination I had after peeking at all the
    'Harry' films in order, is that Sudden Impact
    has a far more modernized look of 80's filmmaking.
    The sound is more robust, but unfortunately, the film
    becomes more tired. Transfer is very good, particularly
    with the many night scenes that make up this film.
    For the first time, you notice that the excessive grain
    is gone from these dark scenes resulting in smoother
    detail.
    The 5.1 Digital mix is extremely active with the
    sound of bullets emanating from all directions.
    Bass response was also more noticeable on this DVD
    than with the others.
    There is no included featurette in the Supplemental
    area, but there is the usual Theatrical Trailer
    as well as On Location, Behind The Scenes and
    Memorable Lines text features that I described
    in the prior Dirty Harry DVDs.
    =====================
    It didn't take more than two years for the
    grey-haired Eastwood to return in The Dead Pool.
    Harry Callahan must stop a sick secret contest to
    murder local celebrities, which includes himself as
    a target. This film features one of the very earliest
    roles for Liam Neeson who plays a macabre film
    Producer/Director.
    This film would become the last of the Dirty Harry
    series.
    The transfer quality is on par with Sudden Impact.
    Overall transfer quality is very good, with the night
    scenes looking less grainy than the first three films.
    The 5.1 mix is also average, with what I felt to be a
    more subdued, less usage of the surrounds on this title.
    There is no included featurette in the Supplemental
    area, but there is the usual Theatrical Trailer
    as well as On Location, Behind The Scenes and
    Memorable Lines text features that I described
    in the prior Dirty Harry DVDs.
    Final Thoughts
    Overall, this is the definitive package for Eastwood
    fans. The transfers are quite good, and there is
    extensive bonus features presented when available.
    Put this one on your Christmas list!

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    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
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  2. Tom-G

    Tom-G Screenwriter

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    Ron, thanks for the review. I'm looking forward to this set. I've only seen these movies in pan and scam, so it's going to be a great experience screening the letterboxed versions.
    I'm also glad to read that the sound is decent. I wasn't expecting it to sound great since the movies are older, so this is another bonus for me.
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    [​IMG]
    [Edited last by Tom_G on November 15, 2001 at 08:08 AM]
     
  3. darrin

    darrin Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron- You said Magnum Force looked better then the previous
    DVD??? I think Magnum Force is making it's debut on DVD.
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I would have bought this
    one a long time ago if it was released. I can't wait to pick up the set!! I have to disagree with you on Tyne Daly
    being cute though dude. She frightens me [​IMG]
     
  4. RickardL

    RickardL Second Unit

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    I guess Ron was referring to the previous DVD reviewed
    which was Dirty Harry or am I wrong?
    Anyway, the bad quality of the opening sequence in
    Dirty Harry bothers me!
    Is it the same, better or worse than the previous
    DVD edition of Dirty Harry??
    As long it is not worse, it's good enough for me!
    ------------------
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Darrin,
    I meant that Magnum Force was a
    slight improvement over Dirty Harry
    ------------------
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    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
    All forum questions & to get on our private forum mailing list (new members)... Email: [email protected]
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  6. RickardL

    RickardL Second Unit

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    Ron, what about comparison with the previous edition
    of Dirty Harry?
    And you write "a very strong 2-channel soundtrack"!?
    Even the previous version of DH had a pretty ok DD5.1 mix
    and I've read other region reviews which says that
    the new remastered version has it as well.
    ------------------
     
  7. Philip Verdieck

    Philip Verdieck Second Unit

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    I think you also forgot that Dead Pool features an unknown young actor by the name of James (Jim) Carrey!
    [Edited last by Philip Verdieck on November 15, 2001 at 10:14 AM]
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Rickard,
    Nowhere on the packaging of Dirty Harry
    does it state a 5.1 mix.
    I listened to it in normal 2-channel stereo.
    ------------------
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    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
    All forum questions & to get on our private forum mailing list (new members)... Email: [email protected]
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  9. RickardL

    RickardL Second Unit

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    Ron,
    I sincerely hope that it is just an error with the
    packaging. I just found the following quote at dvdreview,
    dated September 11th:
    New information has become available on the upcoming Dirty Harry Collection.
    Although the audio specifications were initially unclear, we have learned that all of the films have been given a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. This applies to the films sold individually, as well as those included in the set.
    ------------------
     
  10. bill lopez

    bill lopez Second Unit

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    Sounds like this boxset is better than THE GODFATHER & ROCKY sets! And is Jim Carrey the surprise?
     
  11. Rolando

    Rolando Screenwriter

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    any confirmation as to whether or not the new DH in box set is the same as the one that will be available individually?
    ------------------
    Rolando Avendano
     
  12. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Is this a different transfer from the original Dirty Harry DVD?
    Ted
    [Edited last by Ted Todorov on November 15, 2001 at 11:21 AM]
     
  13. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    I SOOO cant wait for this set! I have it on my Christmas list with the Sopranos.
    Thanks for the review Ron!
     
  14. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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  15. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The original Dirty Harry DVD has a really good 5.1 track...it would seem odd that it would be dropped for the original mono.
     
  16. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    I'm really looking forward to the Enforcer. This was always my favorite Dirty Harry movie. It's going to be a bit nostalgic watching it. I used to watch this movie so much in pan and scan taped off cable. This is going to be a whole new experience on DVD...
     
  17. Scott-C

    Scott-C Supporting Actor

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    I'm really looking forward to every movie in this box set. Glad to hear it's a pretty good set of transfers.
    Thanks for the quick review, Ron.
    ------------------
    [​IMG]
     
  18. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    quote: I'm really looking forward to every movie in this box set[/quote]
    Oh, YES!
    I am the biggest Dirty Harry fan...I love each and every one of these (well...Dead Pool's okay). Thing is I probably won't get these until Christmas, under the tree. But the cool this is this: Rumor has it that a major electronics chain will discount it up to 15%-20% off their $69.99 everyday price on street date and the day after (day before Thanksgiving). I hope this is true...they can turn on MY fun! [​IMG] "Go Ahead...Make My Day!".
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    DAVE/Memphis
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    MORE TV ON DVD, PLEASE!
    Do you like TV on DVD? Then check THIS out!
    ..... http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/ .....
    [Edited last by David Lambert on November 16, 2001 at 05:21 AM]
     
  19. Rolando

    Rolando Screenwriter

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    so...
    "any confirmation as to whether or not the new DH in box set is the same as the one that will be available individually?"
    ???
     
  20. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Thanks for the review, Ron. I was going to wait on this purchase, but I pulled the trigger and ordered last night. Deep Discount DVD is selling the set for $58 and change, including free shipping. That's about $11.60 a film.
    ------------------
    My DVD Collection
    AFI 100 Films to watch: 40 -> 1
     

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