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Sudden Impact
Sudden Impact
Theatrical poster by Bill Gold
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Produced by Clint Eastwood
Screenplay by Joseph Stinson
Story by Template:Ubl
Starring Template:Ubl
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography Bruce Surtees
Editing by Joel Cox
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) Template:Film date
Running time 117 minutes
Country Template:FilmUS
Language English
Gross revenue $67,642,693 (USA)

Template:Italic title

Sudden Impact is a 1983 American crime thriller and the fourth film in the Dirty Harry series, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood (making it the only Dirty Harry film to be directed by Eastwood himself). The film is probably best remembered for Harry's catch phrase, "Go ahead, make my day," often incorrectly attributed to the original film in the series.


Jennifer Spencer and her sister were gang raped years before, after being betrayed by a female friend of the gang, Ray Parkins. The brutal rape left the sister permanently catatonic. Jennifer is now out for revenge, killing her attackers one by one. Jennifer kills the first rapist, George Wilburn, shooting him twice. Meanwhile, San Francisco police inspector Harry Callahan is frustrated when he loses a case due to illegally obtained evidence. At his favorite diner, Harry is oblivious to a hold-up, and after leaving, he recognizes from a hint from the waitress that something is wrong. He enters through the back door, to witness the robbery taking progress. He kills all the crooks, and talks down another who takes the waitress hostage.

Later that night, Harry threatens a drug lord named Threlkis at his granddaughter's wedding party, accusing him of killing a young hooker. Threlkis suffers a heart attack. Harry's angry superior officers order Harry to take a vacation. Callahan is attacked by four of Threlkis's hitmen; he kills three but one escapes. He is also attacked by the antagonists from the court case who throw two gasoline bombs into his vehicle. Harry retrieves one of the gasoline bombs, throwing it against the antagonists' windshield, causing them to swerve into the bay, killing them. Harry's boss, Lt. Donnelly tells him to go to San Paulo after this incident.

Callahan stops a bank robbery in progress and saves the life of Officer Bennett. In his hotel room, Harry receives a gift bulldog from his friend Horace King, whom he nicknames Meathead. While jogging with Meathead, he meets Jennifer. Later, Harry is hunted by the last of the Threlkis hitmen; Harry kills him after being alerted by Meathead.

While fishing, Kruger is followed by Jennifer, who kills him. Callahan asks Bennett for help with the case. A picture of Jannings' son and friends hangs on the police station's wall. Callahan immediately recognizes Wilburn, Ray, and Kruger in the picture. Looking for her son at Mrs. Kruger's fish market, Callahan is kicked out after brawling with her brothers Eddie and Carl. He runs into Jennifer again at a restaurant. Upon hearing Callahan is a cop, Jennifer believes that he is on to her.

Jennifer tracks Tyrone to his store and kills him. Fearing for her life, Ray calls Mick, the gang's leader, who has been in Las Vegas. Callahan finds Tyrone dead and heads to Ray's house where he sees Jennifer's car parked out front. Callahan goes inside and after a fight with Mick, Callahan arrests him and drives off. Jennifer enters and confronts Ray before killing her.

Mick is bailed out by Eddie and Carl. On a visit to Callahan's motel to see how his friend is doing, Horace is ambushed by Mick, Eddie, and Carl, who slit his throat and take his shotgun. Callahan gets to know Jennifer better and is invited to her place, where he sleeps with her. Harry goes to Mrs. Kruger's fish market after learning Mick was bailed out. Callahan is beaten by Mick, Eddie, and Carl and his body is dumped into the water.

Jennifer goes to the home of Alby, who is Chief Jannings's son. She prepares to kill him, only to discover Alby is in a vegetative state, deliberately inflicted by a botched suicide attempt in an intentional car crash, and has been waiting to die for his acts. Chief Jannings arrives and explains how he covered up the rape on his son's behalf. Mick arrives with Eddie and Carl and Mick kills Jannings with Jennifer's gun, planning to frame Jennifer for it. Callahan returns to his motel to find Horace's dead body. Enraged, he finds his concealed weapon and leaves.

The three men are about to gang-rape Jennifer again at a nearby amusement park. Callahan appears and kills Eddie and Carl. Mick takes Jennifer hostage and forces her up a roller coaster. Jennifer is able to escape from Mick, giving Harry a clear shot. The rapist topples off the roller coaster, through a glass roof and onto a merry-go-round, where he is impaled on the horn of a unicorn. When police arrive, Callahan lets Mick be misidentified as the killer. He and Jennifer walk away together down the boardwalk.



The screenplay was initially written by Charles B. Pierce and Earl E. Smith for a separate film for Sondra Locke, but was later adapted into a Dirty Harry film by Joesph Stinson.[4] Filming occurred in spring 1983.[5] Many of the film's scenes were filmed in San Francisco and Santa Cruz, California.[6] The chase scene in the downtown business district offers a rare glimpse of the area before it was devastated by the Loma Prieta earthquake of October 17, 1989. Footage for the robbery in "Acorn Cafe" was actually shot in what was then a "Doggie Diner" restaurant in San Francisco. It is now a "McDonalds" restaurant. In 2014 the site was rezoned for a hotel scheduled to be built in 2015/2016 eliminating this iconic location forever. At this point in his career, Eastwood was receiving a salary that included 60% of all film profits, leaving the other 40% for the studio. Estimates had Eastwood earning $30 million for Sudden Impact.[7]


Sudden Impact is probably best remembered for Harry's catch phrase, "Go ahead, make my day," often incorrectly attributed to the original film in the series. In 2005, it was voted in a poll by the American Film Institute as the sixth most memorable line in cinema history. United States President Ronald Reagan used the "make my day" line in a March 1985 speech threatening to veto legislation raising taxes.[5][8] When campaigning for office as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in 1986, Eastwood used bumper stickers entitled "Go Ahead — Make Me Mayor".[5]


Sudden Impact received mixed reviews from critics, scoring 58% on Rotten Tomatoes. It was a box-office success. In its opening weekend the film took $9,688,561 in 1,530 theaters in the US.[9] In total in the US, the film made $67,642,693, making it the highest grossing of the five films in the Dirty Harry franchise.[5][10]

See also[]


  1. Bernard Brandon Scott, Hollywood Dreams and Biblical Stories (Fortress Press, 1994), 113.
  2. Laurent Bouzereau, Ultraviolent Movies: From Sam Peckinpah to Quentin Tarantino (Citadel Press, 2000), 170.
  3. Helen Birch, Moving Targets: Women, Murder, and Representation (University of California Press, 1994), 129.
  4. Hughes, p.66
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Hughes, p.69
  6. Hughes, p.65
  7. Munn, p. 194
  8. Template:Cite web
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  10. Template:Cite web


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