The Dirty Harry Collection—Warner Bros. (Blu-ray)
The Dirty Harry films solidified Clint Eastwood as a mainstream Hollywood tough guy and created an icon in gritty police drama. "Go Ahead, Make my Day" is a line everyone knows and I must say this Blu-ray box set did just that. It had been awhile since I'd seen any of the Dirty Harry films and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them back in the day. The box set includes all five films in the series or you can purchase the original Dirty Harry in a coffee book edition on its own. While these films do show their age a bit in pacing and production they are still some of my favorite crime thrillers of yesteryear.
I was surprised at how consistent each transfer was in this boxset. While these films are years apart the look and quality of the image doesn't change much from film to film. Some of the color looks a bit dated in The Dead Pool but it reminds me of just about every other movie from that time period. All of the films have been restored and Warner has done a great job overall. Detail is excellent in each one and fine film grain and dimensionality is retained beautifully. There are some moments of softness here and there but these largely seem to be a result of the filming style rather than an encoding issue. Without a doubt this is the best I've seen these films look to date and I'm glad to see Warner giving them the treatment they deserve.
Warner has included a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack for each film but the dated sound designs don't really lend to an exciting experience. Fidelity overall is lacking with some strain in the upper end and a subdued dynamic range. Things improve a bit in the later films but not by much, plus I hate the cheesy 80's synth based scores in the latter films. Production limitations aside these are great 5.1 mixes given the material and in line with the quality we've seen from other films this age.
When you open the box set for this release you'll quickly realize that over half the box is supplements. There is a small book that gives the rundown of each film and some photos from the films. There are also a collection of glossy movie posters in postcard size for each film and a series of telegrams with info on the news and hype of each film. Eastwood has also included a letter about the set. A poster is included for the first film that shows the locations of the victims and calls from the original film and there is a wallet/badge for the prop collector. Each film also gets extensive supplements including commentaries, interviews, behind the scenes footage and trailers.
It's great to see Warner delivering solid catalog collections in HD like this. The A/V presentations are everything you'd want from a series like this and the extras package gives a great insight into the production and legacy of the series. A must own for fans.