Don Siegal could direct. He’d been around Hollywood since the golden age. He could edit too, he could cut and shoot, like Dirty Harry, played by Clint Eastwood. Now, there was a lot of talk about politics at the time the film was released, but I don’t think that was Siegal’s bag – he was a man of action.
Don once told Clint that to be a director you need to know what you need to see, and to know when you’re shooting it, that you’ve got it. There’s usually not a bad shot or an unmotivated edit in a Don Siegal film.
He also made the great Charley Varrick, and his influence can be felt in the films of Walter Hill. A way shooting, framing and an attitude in the placement of the camera.
Dirty Harry has music by Lalo Schifrin, one of the great soundtracks from a composer who was at his best during the 70s and made a lot of those films rock, slide, groove and boogie in ways other composers could only dream of.
When I come to shoot something, I always try to think ‘how would Don shoot this?’ The trailer is below, if you’re feeling lucky.
It’s also worth noting how many of the things in this film became cliché in later cop thrillers.
So, 78 films to go…
Matthew Cooper has written for Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. He was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge and the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize. His first short film starred a then unknown Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four when Matthew was 19 years old. He’s been a script writer for hire and filmmaker for hire for over 20 years.