Blasting onto the big screen for the very first time almost fifty years ago, Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry would swiftly become one of the most iconic characters ever put to film, his debut in the aptly titled Dirty Harry in 1971 being popular with critics and fans alike. The character’s monumental debut is one that has stood the test of time and is still highly regarded today, and for good reason, but perhaps less well remembered are the four sequels this debut adventure would spawn, the final of which would be released close to two decades later, 1988’s The Dead Pool.
In this edition of Ranked, we’re throwing reputation to the side to judge each of the five movies from the Dirty Harry franchise on their artistic merits alone, and ranking them from worst to best in an attempt to determine which of Harry Callahan’s many stories deserves to be recognised as the best.
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5. The Enforcer (1976)
The third installment of the Dirty Harry franchise and easily the series’ lowest point, The Enforcer had the ingredients to be a good flick but fell flat with almost every step.
Featuring Harry with yet another partner, this time a woman (gasp) named Inspector Kate Moore and played by Tyne Daly, the release of The Enforcer came in the midst of rule changes in American police bureaus that allowed women to fill patrol and investigative assignments for the first time. The casting was forward thinking, but the film seemed to refuse to back the case for equal opportunities in the police force, instead using the new character as the butt of low-brow sexist jokes.
Besides the obviously dated gender politics, The Enforcer is also the film in the franchise that holds up the least well in terms of quality, this 1976 entry featuring terrible villains and bland action sequences, the filmmakers relying perhaps too heavily on the draw of the character and superstar Clint Eastwood (who was fantastic as always) by this third instalment.
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