Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sudden Impact

Cinema Monolith: 3/10 The MonolithI saw this movie at the Mann Loma in San Diego, CA - 12/14/83
IMDb: 6.6/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: **½ out of 4

Released on December 9, 1983
Rated R
117 minutes

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Written by Joseph C. Stinson

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle, Bradford Dillman, Paul Drake, Albert Popwell, Audrie J. Neenan, Jack Thibeau, Nancy Parsons, Michael Currie, Michael V. Gazzo, Mara Corday, Camryn Manheim, Lisa London

I remember how excited I was in 1983 when I found out that Clint Eastwood was returning as Harry Callahan in a new movie, called Sudden Impact, the first Dirty Harry entry to hit the screens in seven years, and something I’d assumed would never happen again. The night became an event, with my Dad and I heading down on a Wednesday evening, five days after the film had opened, to the neon-lit Loma Theatre in Pt. Loma, with my younger brother at home waiting for us to return, eager to hear our thoughts on this latest Eastwood venture.

Obviously I liked the idea of the movie, but afterwards I wasn’t quite as full-tilt in love with it as I’d hoped. There were aspects of it I really enjoyed—the infamous ‘Go ahead, make my day’ scene, the .44 Magnum Automag, and a pair of return appearances from Bradford Dillman and Albert Popwell—and of course seeing Clint play Callahan again was the reason for me being there, but I think a corner had been turned somehow, and what had made the first three Dirty Harry films so cool and so much fun in the ’70s could no longer be captured in the ’80s. It just didn’t feel the same.

In fact, even the screen story seemed a bit misguided and awkward for a Dirty Harry film. After Callahan uses some unorthodox methods to thwart a robbery and inadvertently kill a crime lord, he’s given a reprimand by his superiors and sent on vacation to a small coastal town, where he gets involved in a serial killer case. As it turns out, the killer is a woman, and she’s avenging the gang rape of her and her younger sister from ten years earlier, by killing off the gang one by one. Then Harry takes an interest in a woman he meets in town, and lo and behold, she’s the killer!

Clint was looking older now, a little battle weary and worn down by time, but he still had the Callahan aura about him, and he could still handle himself quite well behind the barrel of a gun, the wheel of a car, and the swing of a fist. I just wish the material had been better suited to him, and had concentrated more on his character and his story. Instead, it seemed to focus too much on Sondra Locke and her serial killer character Jennifer, which fans of the series would no doubt consider outright sacrilege. She is not the reason we’re watching this movie.

And believe it or not, she wasn’t the worst of it, although her overtly-dramatic reactions and expressions made it close. Eastwood the director seemed to care more about memorable ‘fan service’ moments and cinematic visuals than real-life logic and common sense, and the overboard characters, awful ’80s music score, and forced hilarity (a bulldog that pees everywhere and passes gas!) didn’t help matters much. And while the gang of rapists were your basic garden-variety dirtbags, the red-headed dyke leader of the bunch was flat-out repulsive, and made watching even more a chore.

I hadn’t watched Sudden Impact in quite some time, but after this recent viewing I realized just how awful it really was, and I wondered how different and better the final product might’ve been if it had been made in the ’70s, with Dean Reisner (co-writer of Dirty Harry and The Enforcer) involved with the screenplay, and perhaps a different—and less nepotistic—director behind the camera. I could easily watch the first three Dirty Harry films over and over and never grow tired of them, but with Sudden Impact, I have no need or desire to ever watch it again.  (3/10)

14 comments on “Sudden Impact

  1. Ouch….. kind of hard on this one. I’m worried now about what you may say about Dead Pool. This one has some great Clint scenes individually so maybe we should just edit it down to about 20 minutes of Clint being Clint and it’s make for a heck of a short. I’m one of those fans that pretty much can’t stand Locke and still to this day bitch and wonder what the heck was Clint doing putting her in so many flicks. While that red headed annoyance may be just that doesn’t Clint belt her? Love that bit and Pat Hingle always a bonus. I saw this one to at the theater which was ultra cool.

    Why was Albert Popwell in the first 4 films? I’m not sure I’ve ever discovered the connection or reason? 4 films, 4 different roles.

    Is it just me or is that a lot of sugar?


    • Todd B

      Yeah, I kinda had to ‘ouch’ this one…what a mess! Watching all five back-to-back like I did really made it stand out from the others, too, and as I’m sure you’ve now discovered, my feelings towards The Dead Pool kinda surprised me. And I could stomach Locke in The Outlaw Josey Wales, I guess because she wasn’t involved all that much (and didn’t speak much, either). But like you, UGH! to everything else!

      And concerning the scuzball red-head: in the bar scene, Harry grabs her wrist when she tries to slap him, then turns her around and gives her a kick to the backside, sending her tumbling to the floor. I liked Clint in that scene, too; he seemed more like Callahan there than in other parts of the film. As for Popwell, I don’t know of any connections, except he first worked with Clint on Coogan’s Bluff before the Dirty Harry films.

      Yes, that was a lot of sugar…a TON of sugar, actually, and it was eye-rolling moments like that which helped me to despise the movie. That ridiculous amount of sugar would’ve been overflowing out of the cup by that point. What might’ve made more sense would’ve been if she put something in the coffee that didn’t belong, only a normal amount of it: some salt or pepper, or Tabasco sauce, or whatever. Just so the audience sees it, and knows it’s not right, and that something’s up.


      • Another point that annoys me on this one (mainly because of my dislike for Locke) is the fact that he let’s her go while not cooperating with the death force in Magnum Force. What’s with that?


      • Todd B

        Yes, exactly…I found it odd, too, especially if you look at it this way: the people she killed were at the moment innocent, while the guys in Magnum Force were at that moment bad. But I do have one solid theory on that: he wanted to sleep with Locke, but didn’t want to sleep with four male rookie cops.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll add my dislike too hehe. Remember being annoyed that she was in another Clint film. tbh I can’t remember this one all that well, which probably rings true to your review. I’m with you on Josey Wales, she was ok. I think I like her best of all in Willard.


    • Todd B

      Man oh man, did my Dad and I EVER get tired of seeing her in so many of his films! We’d see her in a preview trailer or her name in a movie ad in the newspaper, and let out a collective groan. I haven’t seen Willard (or Ben) since the 1970s, and have no recollection of her being in that film. Which is probably a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m the same with Bronson and Jill Ireland but on watching Assassination (yeah I know it aint good but it was fun) for the first time this year, knowing it was their last time together I kind of forgive it.

        Luckily we got the sweet Tyne Daly and I absolutely adore Shirley MacLaine in Two Mules For Sister Sara and Jessica Walter was terrifying as lunatic Evelyn to name a few but it makes you wonder what great leadings ladies might of had a chance to shine in some of his 80’s era films.


      • Todd B

        I can’t remember ever seeing any Bronson/Ireland collaborations, but if I did, it had to be a long time ago. But your theory of leading ladies lost because of Sondra Locke is an interesting one…I’d never thought about that before. Except for when I watched The Dead Pool, and thought how wonderful it was to have Patricia Clarkson in the film instead of Locke. It might be fun to look at the Eastwood films she was in, and come up with suitable alternate replacements for her. Like maybe in The Gauntlet, we could replace Locke with the blonde from ABBA.


      • I like your idea about picking replacements. Haha yes the ABBA girl would be good. Strangely Beverly D’Angelo came to mind for Gauntlet and on checking how to spell her name, it came up that she starred in Every Which Way But Loose……………….. Oh wow it was Patricia Clarkson in The Dead Pool wasn’t it, she has been popping up in so many things recently, I had totally forgot she was in that!


      • Todd B

        Good lord yes, Beverly D’Angelo would’ve been great for The Gauntlet…except we’d have to re-write her character as likeable, because there’s no way I want to see her play a bitchy jerk. We can then put Agnetha Faltskog (the hot blonde from ABBA) in The Outlaw Josey Wales spot, and bring Ingrid Pitt back from Where Eagles Dare for Bronco Billy. Finally, we’ll go for the gusto and have Ann-Margret play Clint’s female love interest in the two primate comedies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • So very true Todd, Beverly could never be bitchy and good plus point that the coach wouldn’t need any air bags with those two puppies onboard. hehe

        Loving your lady picks, most excellent choices. Maybe we can get a gofundme to cgi them into the films lol


      • Todd B

        As long as that CGI doesn’t have an uncanny valley feel to it, then yeah, I’m all for it! And as for Beverly: if I had been in any of her movies, I’d would’ve played the part of the dashboard.


  3. Julie Dunning

    Thought you were done with the “binge-blog”?!?


    • Todd B

      I had to finish my ‘6 Days of Dirty’ first…wanted to get that in before I took a break (and a very, very long nap).


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