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on June 14, 2008
If you're a fan of the Dirty Harry films, and you have a Blu-Ray player, this is a no-brainer. A lot of Blu-Ray transfers are disappointing, particularly in older films. However, Warner has pulled out all the stops, and every one of these films, even the oldest, looks and sounds utterly spectacular.

The original DIRTY HARRY features a lot of aerial photography of San Francisco, as some of the earlier action takes place on rooftops. The detail in these distance shots is staggeringly clear. The colors are rich, vivid, and bold, and the remixed soundtrack is shatteringly good for a film of this vintage.

The four sequels look equally good (the fifth, THE DEAD POOL, suffers only because it was not shot in true widescreen ) and all films are supplemented with a wide selection of new extras. The box even includes a personal message from Clint Eastwood, encouraging you to sample the new bonus features.

I watched all five films in less than a week and I'm ready to watch them all again. It's about time older films started receiving this kind of treatment in High-Def; hopefully this is a harbinger of things to come for classics films of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Go ahead, make your day and buy this box.
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on March 18, 2008
Warner Home Video has announced the details of new releases of all five Dirty Harry movies with new special features. They'll all be in their original widescreen formats only.

They will be available on standard DVD in this 7-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition, or separately in Special or Deluxe editions. ("Special" is better than "deluxe" here--only Dirty Harry gets a 2-disc Special Edition, the others will all be on single discs, but all will have new special features.) Links for the separate DVDs are below.

They'll also be on Blu-ray in a 5-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition. Only the Dirty Harry Special Edition will be available separately on Blu-ray. The other four movies will only be available on Blu-ray as part of the complete set. (They won't be available in HD, which Warner officially discontinues at the end of May.)

Assuming the transfers are good (update: everyone says the transfers are good, better than the old ones), this looks like an excellent set. Whether those with older DVD releases will want to upgrade will be a matter of personal preference, but I personally find the new commentaries and features very attractive.

Here's a bit about each film and the special features, contained in both the separate releases and the sets. The Ultimate Editions will also include some additional features, listed further below.

Dirty Harry Special Edition

Dirty Harry is generally regarded as a classic, the beginning of a second larger-than-life persona for Clint Eastwood (after The Man with No Name). It's the source of the famous "Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" (The actual quote is "... you've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" but the original doesn't quote as well out of context.)

Tough cop "Dirty" Harry Callahan has his own simple, commonsense rules for dealing with crime, based on a strong sense of right and wrong and an impatience with needless details and constraints. The latter gets him into continual trouble with the system which, as portrayed in the movie, is more about politics and bureaucracy than doing what needs to be done. This reflected well the frustrations and fears of Americans in the '70s that criminals were taking over the streets and that the law was powerless to stop them because the "criminal-coddling" courts were holding them back. I personally value the Fourth Amendment and other such niceties and shiver to think of some of the political and moral ramifications of this movie (some of which are still very much with us), but whatever one's politics, Dirty Harry is very effective as a police-action thriller, largely because of Eastwood's unique persona. It's hard not to admire and root for him even if you think he's not always right. There are also the standard gunfights and car chases, and high suspense, all well done.

In the films that followed in the series, Harry became a somewhat more balanced, complex or confusing character, depending on your point of view, coming down clearly on the side of the law against rogue vigilante cops, for example, and learning to appreciate a female cop as a partner, but the basic idea of Harry standing strong despite the corrupt, wimpy system remained.

I'm pleased to see that some of the new special features in the set deal with the "issues" raised by the Dirty Harry films. I look forward to seeing what others make of them.

The special features:

-- new commentary by filmmaker and Eastwood associate/biographer Richard Schickel
-- new featurette "The Long Shadow of Dirty Harry," on the influence and legacy of Dirty Harry
-- "Dirty Harry: The Original," with Clint Eastwood and the film's creators looking back at the creation of the Dirty Harry character
-- "Dirty Harry's Way," a promotional short focusing on the toughness of the movie's main character
-- interview gallery, with Patricia Clarkson, Joel Cox, Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, Evan Kim, John Milius, Ted Post, Andy Robinson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert Urich
-- "Clint Eastwood: The Man from Malpaso," a 1993 TV program on his life and career, including scenes from his work and interviews with friends, fellow actors and crew members
-- trailer gallery: Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact and The Dead Pool

Magnum Force Deluxe Edition

As the sequel to a classic film, it suffers some from the let-downs typical of sequels, but it's still Clint Eastwood being a tough guy, which is enough to carry the merely average plot and script and make it good entertainment for Eastwood fans. I'd say that applies to all four sequels.

In this installment, Harry, the cop frustrated by the rules that hold him back, shows he has his limits when he goes up against wicked vigilante cops killing criminals without any due process. As in the first movie, there's plenty of action, a car chase, suspense, people getting shot, etc.

Special features:

-- new commentary by director and Magnum Force screenwriter John Milius ("in this gritty, entertaining commentary, legendary Hollywood screenwriter Milius discusses Eastwood, the world of Dirty Harry and the rugged resilience of crime drama in American cinema")
-- new featurette "A Moral Right: The Politics of Dirty Harry," with filmmakers, social scientists and authors on the politics and ethics of the Dirty Harry films
-- "The Hero Cop: Yesterday and Today"
-- trailer gallery

The Enforcer Deluxe Edition

In this installment, Harry, the renegade cop with some old-fashioned attitudes and no desire to be tied up with a partner, gets stuck with a female partner, well played by Tyne Daly. Surprise surprise, he learns to respect and rely on her as they make hamburger of a group of domestic terrorists. As in the first two movies, there's plenty of action, suspense, people getting shot, etc., but with a chase on foot in place of the usual car chase.

Special features:

-- new commentary by Enforcer director James Fargo
-- new featurette "The Business End: Violence in Cinema"
-- "Harry Callahan/Clint Eastwood: Something Special in Films"
-- trailer gallery

Sudden Impact Deluxe Edition

Sudden Impact inspires very mixed reactions, but it's still Clint Eastwood in a classic role, this time with Sondra Locke, his partner in several films and off-screen. Some people hate Locke, but I think she's good with Eastwood. (I liked them even more in the Dirty Harryish Gauntlet and the very un-Dirty-Harry Bronco Billy.)

Harry is on forced leave for being his usual trouble-making self while getting the bad guys, but still finds himself in the middle of a string of murders that he undertakes to stop. As in a couple of the others in the series, this movie includes a story line where extralegal justice is an issue, as Locke's damaged rape victim seeks revenge. With the usual action, shootings, and a high level of violence, with women getting their share.

This one is the source of the famous quote, "Go ahead, make my day." It was directed by Eastwood.

-- new commentary by filmmaker and Eastwood associate/biographer Richard Schickel
-- new featurette "The Evolution of Clint Eastwood," on the film in the context of Eastwood's career as a director
-- trailer gallery

The Dead Pool Deluxe Edition

The Dead Pool was pretty well received, considering its place in the series. It has a convoluted plot about a game in which bets are taken on the deaths of celebrities, including Harry, with young Liam Neeson playing a questionable film director who's playing the game. Issues of the celebrity-enslaved press are mixed with romance as Harry dates a reporter. As always, there's plenty of action, suspense, gun play, and, this time, a unique and hilarious car chase with a very small but dangerous car.

-- new commentary by Dead Pool producer David Valdes and Dead Pool cinematographer Jack N. Green
-- new Featurette "The Craft of Dirty Harry," including the cinematography, editing, music, and production design of the Dirty Harry films
-- trailer gallery

The Ultimate editions will contain all of the above features, plus some:

-- the feature-length documentary Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows (which has been and is available separately)
-- 40+ page hardcover book
-- wallet with metal badge and removable ID card
-- five 5" x 7" lobby poster reproduction cards and an exclusive Ultimate Collector's Edition card
-- "Scorpio: Portrait of a Killer" 19" x 27" map of San Francisco detailing Harry's hunt for the killer in the first film
-- never-before-seen production correspondence

The Out of the Shadows documentary is a substantial bonus (87 minutes) for the Ultimate edition. You can get it separately pretty cheap used, though. There's an Amazon page for it, with reviews, here.
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on May 4, 2010
Since the plot of these five movies has been discussed over and over again by other reviewers, I thought it best to comment on the transfers of this Blu-Ray collection.

Let me start off by stating that these classic movies have never looked better. Each movie after Dirty Harry just keeps getting better and better in terms of sharpness, contrast, and color. Dirty Harry showed the most grain out of the five movies but it was minimal and only in certain scenes. Also, it's to be expected considering its age. It isn't until you watch Sudden Impact and The Dead Pool where the 1080P resolution really starts to show its magic.

Anyway, if you're Dirty Harry fan, go out and buy this set. And when you do sit down to watch these classic detective movies, watch them all during a rainy weekend. Bad weather really brings out the grittiness that is Harry Calahan.

By the way, the only reason I didn't give this amazing collection five stars is because of the way the discs were packaged. They are staggered in a way that makes it a bit difficult to remove, but not impossible. I may be picky here so you'll have to judge the packaging on your own.
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on December 5, 2001
The November 2001 'Collection' release should please Dirty Harry
die-hards a great deal. Look up the individual titles for more detailed comments from me.
=-=-=-==-=-=-=-
DIRTY HARRY (1971) 4- Stars
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
A very well made genre film that holds up very well and remains
a pretty violent and gritty film. Directed by Don Siegel and featuring one of Eastwoods finest and most charismatic performances, this is the one that set into stone one of the most enduring formulas for action films. A formula still in use today.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Magnum Force (1973) 3 1/2 stars
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
the first Harry sequel is a film for action movie and or Eastwood junkies to appreciate. It softens Dirty Harry's character however and actually makes more political type statements than Dirty Harry does. It's not a great genre film but it mostly holds up pretty well and is entertaining.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
THE ENFORCER (1976) 2 1/2 stars
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
The Enforcer really changed Harry Callahan's character. On one hand he's a bad-(...) quick with the quips kind of a guy... but he's really quite a softie. The film turns Harry into a kind of fish out of water dinosaur. When it was made, that variation on the Action film hero wasn't as cliché'd as it is now, but it still feels forced and insincere. It's watch-able but don't have high expectations for this one. Lalo Schiffrin didn't do the score for this one unfortunately and he's missed. This is also John (one year younger brother of Robert) Mitchum's last Harry film (he played Detective
'Fatso' DiGeorgio in the first three Harry's). * * * *
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) 3 1/2 stars
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
This is probably the best Harry sequel, and though it doesn't quite offer as much visceral fun as the other Harry's it's one to catch if you're an Eastwood/Harry fan. This is the only Dirty Harry that Eastwood directed.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
DEAD POOL (1988) 2 stars
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Dead Pool undoubtedly looked great on paper for several reasons. Unfortunately it plays out like
A very desperate, tired film with ideas that are more silly than clever.

DVD STUFF
Nearly all of the films in the Dirty Harry Collection of DVD's are presented in Anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen The exception would be The Dead Pool (1.85:1). The original Dirty Harry is not a re-release of the original DVD from a couple of years ago. This time out a sterling print was found and restored and digitally transferred. The original Dirty Harry has never looked better.
Most of these 5 Dirty Harry films are presented at their best with colors vibrant, black levels strong and few technical problems present. Sudden Impact's quality is slightly less and there's a couple of moments where print damage glitches are very noticeable. Minor stuff over-all thankfully. The Enforcer and Dead Pool are the two films that are not Dual Layered, but in the case of The Enforcer that doesn't seem to affect the quality at all. Dead Pool's presentation is a few links down the chain from the others. It's the newest film but has the most flaws visible. It's a little less crisp and sharp than even the original Dirty Harry and has more print damage visible than the others.

All of the films have been given a complete audio over-haul and the engineers have done a superb job on all the films. The older films in particular have been improved a great deal with a very well done sound re-design. I suspect some re-recording of some foley type effects took place because some of the sound effects sound utterly free from distortion which you would expect to crop up in loud sound effects from 30 years ago. All of the films have a Dolby 5.1. track that has been masterfully presented. Dialogue is easy to hear, and the sound effects
And music effectively use the surround capabilities of all the speakers without over-doing it .
DVD EXTRAS:
Dirty Harry has by far the most extras of any DVD in this series. I have reviewed Dirty Harry Separately but a heres a quick run-down of its extras: * * * *
This new Dirty Harry release boasts several features including the all new 30th anniversary Documentary Dirty Harry:The Original. A 29 minute puff piece celebration of all things Harry Callahan that Dirty Harry fans will enjoy. Not a hint of controversy is mentioned and not a discourage word is uttered. Those interviewed recently for the documentary include: Clint Eastwood, Andy Robinson,John Milius, Evan Kim, Hal Holbrook, Patty Clarkson and Harry fan: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Robert Urich (who was in Magnum Force - Dirty Harry 2) hosts the puff piece as he visits the sites of several of the films' original locations. Lots of clips from the Harry films are included. You also get a separate Interview Gallery which shows slightly longer and sometimes different interview sound bites of all of the above participants.
The original promo piece from 1971 is under 7 minutes, called Dirty Harry's Way and is fun to watch containing a few Behind the scenes shots and glimpses of Siegel and company at work making the movie.
Magnum Force gets the 8 minute featurette entitled The Hero Cop: Yesterday and Today and was made as part of the promotional campaign for film in 1973. It has some behind the scene snippets of Ted Post directing Eastwood. The original trailer is not in very good shape on this one.
The Enforcer gets a short featurette used as publicity in 1976 that looks at the celebrity of Eastwood and of Dirty Harry. A few shots from behind the scenes are included.
Sudden Impact and Dead Pool are nearly bare bones with a couple of production notes, memorable lines, list of cast and main crew and their original theatrical trailers included on the DVD.
There's nothing of any real substance to any of these extras, but if you're a fan of any of the films you'll enjoy what there is of them.
BOTTOM LINE:
If you're big fan of all things Dirty Harry you take the plunge and buy the boxed set of all 5 films. It will really 'make your day' but be careful or they might 'blow your head clean off."
Christopher Jarmick, is the author of The Glass Cocoon with Serena F. Holder (...).
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on February 20, 2010
I just got this last week on the 16th with the preorder delivery. It is a nice assortment and is for people who don't watch all the extras that are packed into a disc, like me. The disc quality is excellent and is the same ones that come in the larger pack. It is simple, the movies look great, but if you want extra features get the ultimate collection and if you're interested in the movie only get this version.
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on January 9, 2010
A couple of years ago WB Home Video put out the Ultimate Dirty Harry Collection and this appears to be a paired down version of that. Lacking a few of the extras -- the book, Biography special on Eastwood, Callahan's badge -- it is cheaper. If you don't already have these films, this is a pretty inexpensive way to do so. You do get the commentaries, special on the film Dirty Harry as well as the retrospective The Long Shadow of Dirty Harry -- "I like tough on criminals. I hunt them with a big gun so when I shoot them they fall down." John Milius' take on the character of Harry Callahan. The films: DIRTY HARRY ( classic )and four pretty entertaining sequels. A good edition to any library. Only Big Clint can fire that cannon with one hand, let alone the .44 Auto Mag. The pistol was the product of early 1970's technology. Built to withstand internal pressures greater than those generated by a bolt action rifle. It fired a custom round which was a .44 bullet shoved into a cut-down .308 Winchester cartridge to give extra gunpowder, making it a really hot load. Watch closely in Sudden Impact and when Clint is target shooting you will see flames coming out of the barrel and ejection port. In Magnum Force you get a group of killer cops and future stars: David Soul (Starsky & Hutch), Tim Matheson (Animal House) and Robert Urich (Vegas and Spencer for Hire). Look closely at the Dead Pool and a drugged out rock star, Jim Carrey. Go ahead, make your day. *** This collection only lacks the Callahan badge, the map of Scorpio's killings. Other than that, it IS the Ultimate Dirty Harry Collection and a better bargain. As for the Blu Ray. It looks great on my 1080. Those who tell you keep your conventional DVDs need to pull their heads out of their asses. These films have never looked greater. DIRTY HARRY has all the special features from the original set. The best of Dirty Harry!
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VINE VOICEon June 5, 2008
WB have proven they know how to release classic titles with their exceptional multi-disc offerings from Astaire/Rogers and the Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind and FORD/WAYNE etc etc...and now they have brought that same excellent packaging and extras to a much more current series DIRTY HARRY.

All the movies look much better than ever before ...maybe even better than they did in movie theatres. Previous extras are included ...so no need to keep old editions and each movie has interesting and fast moving featurettes of approximately a half hour that do add considerably to the enjoyment factor. I've only listened to a couple of the commentaries...they all have new ones. Professional Eastwood brown nose...er biographer Richard "windbag" Schickel doesn't add much to Dirty Harry...but John Milius as insane as ever is a hoot on Magnum Force. I'm hoping the commentary on The Enforcer is good as its by the director...we have the aforementioned Schickel back kissing butt on Sudden Impact so I'm not expecting enlightenment there.

Should you buy this box instead of the individual movies? ...its a little better price to buy them this way but the individual movies have such cool graphics and packaging. There is a fake badge in this set AND an exceptional documentary on Clint Eastwood "Out of the Shadows" that all true Clint fans owned already but IS included here...as well as mini theatre one sheets and a very nice letter from Clint about the series...
tough call...oh and a nice book with photos and brief notes...so the whole package takes up about the same space as the individual DVDs for those wondering about shelf space.

THe movies themselves are close to the heart of baby boomers like myself who may have liked John Wayne when we were kids but as we became high schoolers and grew up Clint was/is OUR guy. There is a slight decline in quality from movie to movie during the series as Clint ages and the writing has to find more cute lines for him to toss off ...but I enjoyed them all and still do ...with the possible exception of the Dead Pool...which is now more of a curiosity to me.

Bottom line...if you like Clint/Harry ...you will be delighted with the quality of prints, extras and packaging. In fact its so good I'm getting tempted to upgrade to blu-ray and get the set in that format!
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on June 4, 2008
This review is from; Dirty Harry Ultimate Collector's Edition

Actually Target just made my day because they had it on sale for $49.99 so I bought a set last night. The "Dirty Harry" movie series featuring Clint Eastwood is a genuine classic that was perhaps a blueprint for many future, cop movies with an "attitude". Actually Dirty Harry isn't that dirty. He simply had to co-exist in an uneven, justice system and always angry, yet clueless police superiors throughout the five films while dealing with matters in his own way. Even if his own way meant crashing cars through buildings or whipping out that giant 44 magnum for quick and swift justice.

"Now are there six discs in this Ultimate Collector's Edition Set or seven? Somehow in all of this excitement I lost count!"

There are seven discs in this Dirty Harry Ultimate Collector's Edition Set and the exclusive disc that is available in this set is the Eastwood documentary "Clint Eastwood- Out of the Shadows". Trust me, if you are a hardcore Eastwood fan like me, the extra cash to buy this set is worth it because of this exclusive documentary disc on one of the greatest screen icons of film history. "Out of the Shadows" (1 hour 26 minutes) which was a DVD originally released in 2001, documents Eastwood's entire life from his upbringing in the San Francisco Bay Area to his entire film career. It is narrated by Morgan Freeman. We hear from his mother, Ruth Wood. We learn of Eastwood's passion for Jazz. We then learn of Eastwood's stoic rise in the film industry from his minor roles (many film clips are shown, even his minor ones) to his first major TV series "Rawhide". We learn of his close relation to legendary director Sergio Leone who gave Clint his first major starring role in the Spaghetti Western trilogy despite the English/Italian language barrier. We also learn of his very, special relation to his dear friend and director Don Siegel who became his best mentor. It was mainly from Siegel that Eastwood became more interested in directing in addition to acting. We learn of Eastwood directing "Play Misty for Me" for free because the movie studios didn't want risk funding a new and inexperienced director, but Eastwood did it for free anyways simply to get the experience.

In addition to Eastwood himself, we hear from directors Martin Scorsese, Don Siegel (vintage recording) and Sergio Leone (vintage recording). We also hear from actors/actresses Eli Walach, Forest Whitaker, James Garner, Meryl Streep, Gene Hackman, Richard Burton (vintage recording) and many others. I wasn't ever really a fan of actress, Sandra Locke, but she is oddly missing from this documentrary except for her film clips. Nevertheless, Locke was vital to Eastwood's film career and I still would have liked to hear any of her current insights, but her romantic separation from Eastwood as well as her lawsuit against Eastwood & Warner Brothers might be the very reason she has been excluded. We also hear of Eastwood's 1986 Mayor campaign in Carmel, California which was an area that was one of his favorite retreats and current home. Since I live fairly close to Carmel, I still remember those "Go Ahead & Make My Day - Vote for Eastwood!" bumper stickers from 1986. I personally own over 20 Eastwood movies on DVD so it was a real pleasure to watch this. It's a great documentary of his success, failures and motivations.

As for the five DVD movies they are great new transfers. I used to own the old 2001 transfers which I initially thought were pretty good transfers, but they were many noticeable film flaws especially on the first two films "Dirty Harry" & "Magnum Force". The colors on the new transfers look more vibrant and most of the film imperfections from the previous transfers have been drastically corrected. Fantastic restoration! Each film comes with its own feature length commentary, featurettes and trailers. Dirty Harry is the only film that is a two-disc edition while the remaining four films are single discs. Any special features from the old 2001 DVD set (which weren't many) are ALL carried over to the new set plus there are many other new ones added.

There are many physical extras included in this set. Some are typical, but some are pretty odd yet unique. There are five mini poster cards for each of the five films plus another card featuring all five films (actually it's a picture of a gun with 5 bullets stamped with names of all of the films which is similar to the box art). A fold up "Scorpio" map of San Francisco is included which documents exact locations for the first "Dirty Harry" film. A set of six mini Warner Brother movie studio inter-office memos/telegrams about the "Dirty Harry" film production is included. It was interesting to note there are memos relating to Frank Sinatra's initial interest in the title role, but he had to reject the role because of his injured hand. The film also had the alternate title "Dead Right" instead of "Dirty Harry". Old "Blue Eyes" as Inspector Calahan? I'm sure glad it worked out for Clint Eastwood instead who initially rejected the role due to his own scheduling conflicts. In fact, a mini letter from Eastwood is included in this DVD set stating how he got the "Dirty Harry" role after his initial rejection which he regretted in addition to statements about thanking you for buying this newly, remastered DVD set. "Oh you're welcome, Mr. Eastwood!" The mini letter also contains a pre-signed signature.

The DVD set also contains a 44-page book about all five "Dirty Harry" films. Note this book is "hard-cover bound" not paper bound. Very nice! The book is filled mostly with color/black & white photos with notes on each film's villain, Dirty Harry's partners and memorable quotes. The final extra is a replica inspector Calahan badge & photo I.D. enclosed in a vinyl wallet. Gee, now I only need a 44 Magnum with this badge and I can start harassing and arresting some of my co-workers or friends!

My only, minor complaints for this whole DVD package is the package itself. While packaged nicely, I would have preferred individual slim plastic cases for all five films which are similar to the James Bond Ultimate Edition DVD sets. In the Dirty Harry DVD set the documentary is packaged in its own cardboard/plastic single fold cover, but the remaining six film discs are packaged in two cardboard/plastic tri-fold covers. The cardboard tends to wear after repeated removals & replacements, but if slim plastic cases were used they could be replaced easily. I also didn't like the fact that none of the special features for each film disc are printed anywhere on the package. If you want to know about the features for each disc, you have to simply insert the disc in the DVD player and scroll through the on-screen menus. Not a huge deal for me, but I think it would have been helpful if the all of special features were printed on the tri-fold disc holders or on some sort of page insert. I'm sure the individual, new "Dirty Harry" movies sold in the plastic snap cases have specific listings of the special features printed on their own, individual, case inserts.

Overall, despite my minor complaints this is the best DVD set to have of the classic "Dirty Harry" series. Vastly superior in picture, sound and supplements in comparison to the older 2001 DVD's. I contemplated about buying the new movies individually and foregoing the Ultimate Set, but the documentary disc "Out of the Shadows" swayed me to the Ultimate set and I'm sure glad I did because the nicely-packaged, physical extras were a pleasant bonus! "Do You Feel Lucky Punk?" Yes, I'm one lucky punk today!
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on December 4, 2001
Finally! The original die-hard lethal weapon now has all of his adventures available on the digital format! I was wondering what took Warner Bros. so long. And the new digital transfer looks a whole lot better than the old VHS tapes I used to own! Looks like the WB did a bit of film clean-up as well- I don't see nearly as many scratches or other visual clutter in any of the movies like I did the VHS versions. If you're looking for the movies that made the police action genre what it is today, this is the series to take a gander at!
There must've been a time when being in a `Dirty Harry' flick was an actor's ticket to modest-to-amazing stardom. Andy Robinson, the Scorpio Killer from the original DH, eventually found his way into the hearts of the Trekkie minions as the Cardassian tailor/spy Garak on `Deep Space Nine'. Along with a brief appearance by Suzanne Somers, Robert Urich (`Vega$') and David Soul (`Starsky & Hutch') were featured in `Magnum Force'. `The Enforcer' saw future `Cagney & Lacey' co-star & 4-time Emmy winner Tyne Daly as yet another unfortunate partner of Detective Callahan. And Liam Neeson & Jim Carrey had their moments in `The Dead Pool'.
Like most, I consider the first `Dirty Harry' to be the best. There's just something about the way that it establishes the characters & situations that Harry will have to face in the subsequent flicks. They could've made the fake blood more realistic-looking, however. Also included here: One half-hour documentary hosted by `Magnum Force' co-star Robert Urich, an original '71 behind-the-scenes doc, and theatrical trailer.
`Magnum Force' has its moments, and I found the idea of our anti-hero actually defending the system he dislikes against rogue elements in the police department an interesting one. This one also features one noticeable flub: The scene where Harry's dismantling his apartment mail box. After the wimpy complainer starts walking back upstairs saying he doesn't want to get involved, you can see for an instant the shadow of one of the crew members on the wall above the stairway. Then there's the less-than-convincing scene where a nude, coked-up blonde drops several stories to her death. If there's one scene in the entire DH canon that could use some of that `Star Wars Special Edition'-style digital correction, that particular moment is it! Also included is a brief doc on the evolution of cop flicks leading up to the first two `DH' mo-pics, and an original theatrical trailer.
I consider `The Enforcer' to be the weakest film of the bunch- the group of heavies looked kinda psycho, but didn't seem as scary or dangerous as previous or subsequent `DH' villains. The LAWS rocket climax was also pretty hokey. However, it has one of my fave moments in the entire series, where Harry asks Big Ed Mustapha, a Black Pantheresque militant, if he knows him from somewhere. This moment is something of an in-joke- Albert Popwell, the guy who portrayed Mustapha, also played the bank robber who felt lucky in `DH', the pimp in `Magnum Force', and Horace in the subsequent `Sudden Impact'. Strangely enough, he's absent from `The Dead Pool'. Also included: brief male full-frontal nudies (gasp!), a mini-doc, and a theatrical trailer.
I thought `Sudden Impact' was pretty cool, even though most of it takes place a short distance away from San Francisco, rather than in the city proper. It introduced us to Harry's `old stand-by', the .44 Automag, which made for an impressive addition to our anti-hero's silhouette during the climactic `final fight' scene. And let's not forget the introduction of his most famous line, "Go ahead... make my day." Also added: common-law missus Sondra Locke, and Clint taking to the producer's & director's seat for this one. `SI' also includes the most notable `blooper' in the series: while Harry's trying out the Automag at a makeshift target range in the woods, the aforementioned Horace drives up and opens the driver's side door to get out. As the door opens, you can clearly see the camera man in the driver-side window's reflection! One of cinema's most glaring oopsies. No docs are included here, just the obligatory trailer.
Finally, there's the `Dead Pool', featuring the most bizarre car chase scene I've ever witnessed! And who could forget Harry's takin' out the last scumbag? Just when you thought he was dependent on the .44 Magnum revolver to protect himself, he surprises you with his improvisational skills! Also featured: another unfortunate cop partnered up with Callahan who's only one of two folks throughout the five flicks to survive the experience! As expected, a trailer is included.
All in all, the Dirty Harry collection box set is a pretty good presentation of the entire series. There's not an exhaustive array of extras, but if you're a big-time fan, I'm sure you'll consider yourself fortunate to have some new stuff to look at. Too bad WB still hasn't caught wind of putting their DVDs in plastic keep cases, rather than those flimsy cardboard snap sleeves that they still seem to be partial to. C'mon, Warner, let's get with the times here!
`Late
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on May 15, 2011
If you love the Dirty Harry series, this is a no brainer. Amazon occasionally offers this set on sale, and even the regular price is good. The 5 movies are in one compact box making it easy for storage. The movies look good on Blu-ray, although not as crisp as more recent movies, or even other Blu-ray movies I have seen from the same time period. I wish they would have spent more time improving the graininess and overall quality. They still look better than the DVDs, however. Recommended.
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