Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sudden Impact

Directed and starring Clint Eastwood and screenplay by Joseph Stinton from a story by Earl E. Smith and Charles B. Pierce, Sudden Impact is the story of a detective who is investigating a series of murders of men who were part of a gang rape as one of the women who was raped is going after them. The fourth film in the Dirty Harry series has Eastwood reprise his role as Harry Callahan as he once again explore the world of vigilante justice as it involves a woman who is dealing with the trauma and injustice that was done to her. Also starring Sondra Locke, Bradford Dillman, Albert Popwell, and Pat Hingle. Sudden Impact is an evocative and gripping film from Clint Eastwood.

The film follows Harry Callahan who is assigned to a murder case at a small town in Southern California after angering his superiors, once again, while he’s unaware that the killer is a woman seeking revenge for a gang rape that she and her sister were victims of a decade before. It’s a film that explores not just vigilante justice which Callahan isn’t fond of but also know that his tactics in just bringing criminals down isn’t enough anymore due to the need for courts who unfortunately don’t do their job in putting criminals in their place. It’s something this woman in Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke) is aware of as she knows the men who raped her and her sister not only weren’t put into justice but were able to walk away free.

Joseph Stinton’s screenplay, with un-credited work from Dean Riesner, goes back and forth into Callahan dealing with his suspension due to his often troubling encounters with criminals going after him and Spencer killing off the men who raped her one-by-one by returning to the town of San Paulo, California. When Callahan is sent to the town from San Francisco to work a case, he has to contend with its local chief Lester Jannings (Pat Hingle) about Callahan’s tactics despite the fact that it worked once he arrived in stopping a bank robber. He would meet Spencer but is unaware of what she is doing yet does find a connection into the men who are killed and who could be the next victims. There is also a subplot involving those who were participants in that rape coming together led by a local figure in Ray Parkins (Audrie J. Neenan) in preparing for a showdown with Spencer but also realize the trouble that is Callahan.

Clint Eastwood’s direction is definitely stylish as it has elements of film noir in terms of some of the visuals he would create. Though some of it is shot on location in San Francisco, much of the film would be shot in Santa Cruz, California as it would mark a change of pace for the film series as much of it was set in San Francisco. While Eastwood would use some wide shots to establish some of the locations, he would go for more intimate shots in his approach to close-up and medium shots to play into the suspense and some of the drama. While there are moments in the film that are humorous which includes a pet bulldog Callahan receives from a friend as well as the moment he arrives at San Paulo where he stops a robber while driving a small bus for retirees. The film does remain serious as it relate to Spencer’s flashback about the gang rape she and her sister were victims of as it is quite brutal with Eastwood’s usage of handheld cameras and close-ups to play into the drama. The film is still quite violent in the way Spencer confronts her rapists while the film’s climax at an amusement park is definitely stylish where Eastwood’s approach compositions and building up the suspense is key to what makes the moment so thrilling. Overall, Eastwood creates an engrossing yet exhilarating film about a police inspector investigating a series of murders from a woman taking revenge for the rape she and her sister were victims of.

Cinematographer Bruce Surtees does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it has an element of style for many of the scenes at night with its usage of intricate lighting to help set a mood for some scenes including the film’s climax. Editor Joel Cox does excellent work with the editing as he would use some stylish jump-cuts for some of the action including the chase sequence in San Paulo as well as some rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense. Production designer Edward C. Carfango and set decorator Ernie Bishop do fantastic work with the look of the hotel room that Callahan stays at in San Paulo as well as some of the locations in the city including bits of the amusement park. Sound mixer Donald F. Johnson does nice work with the sound as it is quite straightforward with the exception of the film’s action scenes as well some of the scenes at the amusement park. The film’s music by Lalo Schifrin is wonderful for its jazz-funk score that play into the suspense and drama as it includes a song sung by Roberta Flack.

The casting by Marion Dougherty is amazing as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Lisa Britt as Spencer’s catatonic and traumatized sister Elizabeth, Matthew Child as one of rapists in Alby, Nancy Parsons as the mother of one of the rapists who runs a fishing company, Mark Keyloun as a local San Paul police officer who helps out Callahan, Michael Currie as one of Callahan’s superiors in Lt. Donnelly, the trio of Paul Blake, Wendell Wellman, and George Wilburn as a trio of the more brutish rapists, and Michael V. Gazzo in a terrific small appearance as a mob boss Callahan confronts at his granddaughter’s wedding. Albert Popwell is superb as a fellow detective of Callahan who would give him a bulldog as a present to keep Callahan company while Bradford Dillman is fantastic as Captain Briggs who doesn’t like what Callahan does and wants him suspended.

Audrie J. Neenan is excellent as the tough local crime boss Ray Parkins as a woman that likes to do bad things to people while Jack Thibeau is brilliant as the most vicious criminal Kruger who is the most crazed of the group of people that raped Spencer and her sister. Pat Hingle is marvelous as San Paulo police chief Lester Jannings as a man who is suspicious about Callahan’s presence in his town but also know that Callahan is a persistent man that is willing to find answers as he also holds a secret about the case Callahan is on. Sondra Locke is remarkable as Jennifer Spencer as an artist who is trying to move on with her life until she sees one of the men who raped her as she goes on a journey for vengeance as it’s very calm yet eerie performance from Locke. Finally, there’s Clint Eastwood in a phenomenal performance as Harry Callahan as a police inspector with unconventional methods in taking down criminals as he is forced to take a case out of San Francisco where he makes some chilling discoveries but also be aware of what is really going on as it is Eastwood at his finest.

Sudden Impact is an incredible film from Clint Eastwood that features top-notch performances from Eastwood and Sondra Locke. Along with its great supporting cast, eerie visuals, and a chilling score, it’s a film that explore the world of vengeance and a cop trying to understand this woman’s motivation as well as her need for justice. In the end, Sudden Impact is a sensational film from Clint Eastwood.

Dirty Harry Films: Dirty Harry - Magnum Force - The Enforcer - The Dead Pool

Clint Eastwood Films: (Play Misty for Me) – High Plains Drifter - (Breezy) - (The Eiger Sanction) - (The Outlaw Josey Wales) - (The Gauntlet) - (Bronco Billy) - (Firefox) - (Honkytonk Man) - Pale Rider - (Heartbreak Ridge) - (Bird) - (White Hunter Black Heart) - (The Rookie) – Unforgiven - (A Perfect World) - (The Bridges of Madison County) - (Absolute Power) - (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) - (True Crime) - (Space Cowboys) - (Blood Work) - (Mystic River) – Million Dollar Baby - Flags of Our Fathers - Letters from Iwo Jima - Changeling - (Gran Torino) – (Invictus) – (Hereafter) – (J. Edgar) – (Jersey Boys) – American Sniper - (Sully) -(The 15:17 to Paris) - (The Mule)

© thevoid99 2017


Anonymous said...

This one is just such a departure for me, a really interesting entry in the series.

thevoid99 said...

@assholeswatchingmovies.com-I agree as I think it's the most underrated entry of the series as I hadn't seen in a long time until yesterday. Man, it's fucking good.

Dell said...

It's been years since I've seen any of the Dirty Harry movies. I'm thinking about going back through them sometime soon. Thanks for the reminder.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-You're welcome. I've been recording them for a while as I got one more film to do as a re-watch as I hadn't seen The Dead Pool for years.

Dave said...

I forgot how dark this one was. Sondra Locke makes anybody who sees this squeamish right from the opening scene. At first, she looks like she's a wildcat in the sack making out with that poor man in the car until she pulls a gun out of her purse and plants it inside his pants cocking he hammer as she does so. The unsuspecting man realizes what is happening but it's too late, the sexy lady has a 38 snub nose revolver pressed against his genitals and it's cocked! Without hesitation, the merciless woman blows his nuts off (ouch) then kills him with one more bullet in his head. She is beautiful and very convincing while she seduces her victim him. When she pops that ugly surprise though she is SCARY!

Anonymous said...

Sondra Locke is brutal in this film.

thevoid99 said...

@Dave-That is one of the reasons why I liked this film a lot. It wasn't afraid to go dark and I think having it somewhere other than San Francisco made it feel fresh.