Combustible Celluloid
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With: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle, Bradford Dillman, Paul Drake, Audrie J. Neenan, Jack Thibeau, Michael Currie, Albert Popwell, Mark Keyloun, Kevyn Major Howard, Bette Ford, Nancy Parsons, Joe Bellan, Wendell Wellman, Michael V. Gazzo
Written by: Joseph C. Stinson, based on a story by Charles B. Pierce, Earl E. Smith
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 117
Date: 12/08/1983

Sudden Impact (1983)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The fourth "Dirty Harry" film is notable for two things: it's the one with the "Go ahead... make my day" catchphrase and it's the only one that star Clint Eastwood also directed. Aside from that, the film is an uncomfortable mishmash of tones; the villains are terrible, one-dimensional sneering denizens of evil, and the frail, mousy Sondra Locke is dreadfully miscast as the vengeful killer. The film lags whenever Eastwood isn't on screen, but even his dryly humorous patter can't offset the very sour, mean tone of the rest of the film. The plot has Harry traveling from San Francisco to a nearby small town (actually Carmel) to track down a murderer; the culprit is painter Jennifer Spencer (Locke) who suffered, along with her sister, a brutal gang rape ten years earlier. She's now executing her tormentors, one by one. For some reason, the really nasty, foul-mouthed Ray Parkins (Audrie J. Neenan) was and is the leader of the rapists; she may be the screen's most insulting portrayal of a lesbian. The film also includes, for comic relief, an ugly, farting dog called "Meathead." On the plus side, Eastwood throws in a nice climactic chase through a carnival, including a suspenseful spin on a carousel. Michael V. Gazzo appears uncredited. Roberta Flack contributes a rather unmemorable closing credits song.

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