Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Brandon Peters returns! Brandon Peters dissects the Dirty Harry franchise IV: Sudden Impact (1984).

Sudden Impact
Director:  Clint Eastwood
Starring:  Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Albert Popwell, and everyone’s second favorite Commissioner Gordon – Pat Hingle (editor's note: you mean third favorite, one shant forget Bob Hastings!)
Rated R

Go ahead, make my day
            ~Harry Callahan

That quote is what most people even know about at all about the Dirty Harry series.  Eastwood returns and takes on the director’s chair (as well as 60% of the film’s profits) for the biggest, most successful film in the Dirty Harry franchise.  While not close to being the best of the series, its nowhere near as boring and dull as the previous entry.  Its almost a completely mindless, satisfying watch akin to that of Rocky IV.  In order to get some reliable bread winners into the theaters in the early 80's, Warner Bros coaxed the magnum back into Eastwood’s hand to continue the series.  Reportedly he got the lay of the land at Warner with guaranteed future projects to direct and points on box office totals.  And with that, Dirty Harry returned. 

Eastwood’s domestic partner at the time, Sondra Locke, had a script at Warner Bros for her that was restructured to become a Dirty Harry film.  This would be the final of six films the partners did together.  Sudden Impact’s story is one that is relegated mainly to procedural dramas on network television nowadays and rarely pumped into feature length blockbusters.  It's the basic tale of rape-revenge, in which the victim strikes back after ten years.  Using a .38 snub nose revolver, Locke’s character leaves one bullet in the genitals and one in the head.  Is it just me, or are Sondra Locke’s characters raped in just about every film her and Eastwood have done together?  The film is another story of vigilantism in the series, but all three have had different aspects.  The first was about Harry’s methods to solve a case in time to save a life, the second is stopping vigilantes for killing people where they believe the courts failed and Sudden Impact brings rape revenge.  In this one Harry decides to let the vigilante walk, believing what she did was for the greater good.

Harry racks up another corpsed partner in this one.  The partner is quite notable.  Horace is played by Albert Popwell, graduating from his steady increase in screen time per film.  In the original, he was the bank robbing thug who received the famous “Do you feel lucky?” speech.  He played the pimp in Magnum Force, and the leader of the Black Panther-like group in The Enforcer.  Of note, Popwell died in both even numbered films.  Popwell was to appear in the next film, The Dead Pool, but had to back out due to some scheduling conflicts.  The film’s famous line “Go ahead, make my day” was made even more prolific when Ronald Reagan used it in a speech in 1985.  Eastwood himself also used it in politics when running for mayor in Carmel, CA (“Go Ahead – Make Me Mayor”).  AFI also posted the line as the sixth most famous film line of all time.

Sudden Impact isn’t incredibly dumb, its just kind of very basic, but popping.  Eastwood prevents it from ever being boring by forcing action sequence at every sign of a possible lag in the film.  Some are over the top, some are silly, some work really well.  Its never dull.  The character of Harry Callahan is also pretty much played as a characature of what he truly was in the first three films.  That said, its actually a fun watch.  Most of the supporting cast is colorful enough (Audrie Neenan is so good, you’ll want to smack her yourself), even if Sondra Locke can’t quite pull her scenes in the film.  If you've seen films like Rocky IV, and you enjoy it for what it is, you’ll have no trouble taking a liking to Sudden Impact.


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