This is a re-post from another blog.
I spent the last two days of October 2007 watching all five DIRTY HARRY movies, a great series where you can really get a good idea of how to handle sequels.
DIRTY HARRY (1971) is a classic in every sense of the word. Great villain, great plot, terrific dialogue (I was thrilled to discover that the same screenwriter, John Milius, wrote Dirty Harry’s “Do you feel Lucky, Punk” speech and Quint’s “Indianapolis” story in JAWS. And he isn’t even a credited screenwriter on either film!). From this film Dirty Harry deserves his status as an iconic character.
As for sequels:
MAGNUM FORCE (1973) is an excellent sequel to the original DIRTY HARRY. It expands and explores ideas from the original, looking at themes in a different light, while still being a great action movie. A worthy successor.
THE ENFORCER (1976) I don’t really have anything to say about this one. It’s not bad, it’s not great, it just is. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the outside-the-law justice theme that was so prominent in the first two movies.
SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) Again, this movie expands on the original in new ways. I did think it was a little too long and there’s some lowest-common-denominator humor.
THE DEAD POOL (1988) The worst of the five: bad dialogue, un-interesting villain. Harry is a different character from the other movies, almost like they took a pre-existing script and plugged Dirty Harry into it. The car chase is pretty unique.
A couple random thoughts:
Harry needed a theme. Lalo Schifrin did the score for each film except for THE ENFORCER. While all the scores are similar, it would have been nice to have one piece of music tie all five films together.
I wish they would make one more, bringing the series back up from where the DEAD POOL left it. Maybe give Harry Callahan the ROCKY BALBOA treatment, have him deal with age and change. Also put back in some of that 1970’s grit and the alternative justice themes. With the clout Clint Eastwood enjoys nowadays, this could be an incredible film.