The Enforcer (1976) was always intended to be the last film in the ‘Dirty Harry’ series but when Sean Connery made an unexpected return to the role of James Bond in the 1983 film Never Say Never Again, Warner Brothers conducted a poll asking cinema goers which other famous characters they would like to see resurrected again.
The public responded that they were very keen on seeing Clint Eastwood play Harry Callahan once more so, seven years after The Enforcer, Dirty Harry was at it again in Sudden Impact.
This fourth outing for Eastwood’s magnum enforcer, maverick San Francisco cop “Dirty” Harry Callahan – and the first directed by Clint himself – has the big man with the big gun hunting Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke, Eastwood’s partner at the time), who is systematically tracking down and assassinating the group of men (and one lesbian) who brutally gang-raped her and her sister ten years ago. Her sister never recovered and is now catatonic.
As the police investigation gathers pace, Jennifer moves to the quiet North California beach town of San Paulo to lay low and restore the boardwalk’s historic carousel (where the rape took place).
Meanwhile, Harry is up to his usual antics: foiling a robbery at a diner in his usual fashion (“Go ahead, make my day!”) and causing a crime boss to have a heart attack when he accuses him of murder.
Harry’s superior, Captain Briggs (Bradford Dillman) orders him to disappear and go cool off somewhere. Harry winds up in – you guessed it – San Paulo where he strikes up a friendship/romance with Jennifer Spencer.
But he soon begins to notice that murders in the locale match the modus operandi (a “.38 calibre vasectomy”) of the San Francisco case.
Sudden Impact is more down and dirty than previous entries in the series and forces the cop into a moral dilemma that makes him question the limitations of his role – but it won’t disappoint series fans, even if the formula is starting to wear a little thin.
Inspector Harry Callahan
Audrie J Neenan