Hall of Fame: Dirty Harry Callahan
When Chad and I discussed creating a Bulletproof Action Hall of Fame, we knew there had to be certain criteria.
Longevity certainly plays a factor. A flash in the pan character is not going to cut it, we want characters that are timeless.
Impact on pop culture is another big variable. When people outside die hard action movie fanatics know about the character or reference the character or use their catchphrase in some way, then you have transcended action entertainment and are in the mainstream.
Influence on the genre. Was the character a first of its kind? Or was it the best of its kind? Did other movies try to copy the success?
The first inductee to the Bulletproof Action Hall of Fame certainly meets all three criteria…
There were five Dirty Harry movies in total starting with 1971’s Dirty Harry and ending with The Dead Pool in 1988.
It was five simple words that, in my opinion, solidified Dirty Harry’s spot in pop culture… “Go ahead, make my day”. This line from Sudden Impact (1983) was as catchy a catchphrase as you can get. I remember watching the movie over at my uncle’s house and him instructing my cousin to rewind the movie over and over again so he could watch that one particular scene. He loved it! And he wasn’t the only one. President Ronald Reagan used the phrase in one of his speeches. The American Film Institute listed the quote at #6 on their Top 100 Movie Quotes list.
AFI also listed Callahan’s Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum as the second greatest movie weapon of all-time behind the lightsaber.
And I think we’ve all seen the Dirty Harry influence in other action movies… cops who march to the beat of their own drummer. Cops who aren’t afraid to tick off their superiors and ruffle some feathers in order to bring justice to the worst of the worst criminals. We could probably compile a list of 100 movies that used that formula.
Dirty Harry was an anti-hero and people loved him for it.
It is a great honor for me to induct Dirty Harry Callahan as the first member of the Bulletproof Action Hall of Fame.