Dirty Harry’s Brown Suit

Clint Eastwood in the climactic scene of Dirty Harry.

Clint Eastwood in the climactic scene of Dirty Harry (1971).

After stuffing our faces and stomachs during the Thanksgiving holiday this weekend, it’s certainly appropriate that you’d want to return to work feeling like a badass. That’s what Clint Eastwood is here for.

Vitals

Clint Eastwood as Insp. Harry Callahan, frustrated San Francisco inspector

San Francisco, Summer 1971

Film: Dirty Harry
Release Date: December 23, 1971
Director: Don Siegel
Wardrobe Department: Glenn Wright

Background

Having established his central look earlier in the film as a sport coat and slacks (gray herringbone and brown plaid), Dirty Harry throws a lateral for the final confrontation against the brutal “Scorpio Killer” by wearing a sharp, slim cut brown three-piece suit.

A brown 3-piece suit is a very traditional look, but the fit and styling of Harry’s suit is very contemporary and fashion-forward for 1971. The traditional suiting makes sense for Harry, a contrast to the more liberal film cops like Bullitt and their more fashionable wardrobes. While not outfitted in a frock coat and striped cravat, Harry still looks more old-fashioned next to Bullitt in his shooting jacket and polo neck jumper.

What’d He Wear?

Harry dresses warmly throughout the film, almost always wearing a jacket, trousers, and vest, so it makes sense that when he wears a suit, it would be a three-piece. Harry’s suit is brown, a strong choice for Harry that evokes a reliable and masculine look, blending in with the earth around him during the final scene.

Dry cleaning bills for a guy like Harry must be a bitch.

Dry cleaning bills for a guy like Harry must be a bitch.

Harry’s dark brown suit, unless someone knows better, appears to be polyester. This being 1971, polyester is a reasonable choice as the ’70s are often known sartorially as “the polyester decade”. If you don’t believe me, just watch Saturday Night Fever or Mean Streets. The length of the vents and the swelled edges on the lapels and pockets are also indicative of this era.

The suit jacket is single-breasted – Harry doesn’t seem like a double-breasted guy, does he? – with three very dark brown horn buttons down the front. Harry wears the center button fastened.

Harry's buttoned coat keeps his vest buttons and belt a mystery for viewers... a mystery that will likely never be solved.

Harry’s buttoned coat keeps his vest buttons and belt a mystery for viewers… a mystery that will likely never be solved.

The jacket has a welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, notch lapels, and a vertical seam down the rear center. The natural shoulders of the jacket look strong on Eastwood’s athletic profile.

Additional style touches include very long double rear vents and widely-spaced 2-button cuffs, which aren’t seen very much anymore.

"Hands up, Clint!"

“Hands up, Clint!”

Since Harry wears his jacket with the center button closed during the entire sequence, we only see the top and bottom of the vest. It buttons with a single-breasted style down the front and has swelled edges and a notched bottom.

The flat front trousers have belt loops and cuffed bottoms with narrow turn-ups that are possibly no longer than 1″ wide. Again, due to the jacket’s closure, we don’t see much of the waistline, but it looks like Harry wears a black leather belt. This would clash with Harry’s shoes, but:
a) We don’t really see the belt because of the jacket.
b) Do you think Harry Callahan gives a shit if his belt and shoes match?

On that note, Harry’s shoes are dark brown leather plain-toe bluchers, worn with a pair of dark brown socks that continue the leg line. Due to all of his running around in the quarry, Harry’s shoes accumulate a ton of dust and look much more like a dirty brown than a dark brown by the time he has Scorpio at gunpoint on the pier.

While I can't speak from personal experience, plain-toe bluchers seem to be the shoe to wear when riding on top of a school bus.

While I can’t speak from personal experience, plain-toe bluchers seem to be the shoe to wear when riding on top of a school bus.
And, of course, this is another great composite of Clint Eastwood holding a gun on himself.

Harry’s white dress shirt has a fashionably – but not excessively – large collar, a front placket, and squared buttoned cuffs. His patterned tie is knotted widely – but again, not excessively wide – and has a very dark brown ground with a lighter red and brown floral pattern spotted throughout.

Harry's tie nicely matches the bruises on his face. Keep this in mind if you're in a more aggressive profession.

Harry’s tie nicely matches the bruises on his face. Keep this in mind if you’re in a more aggressive profession.

His accessories are the usual for him, including the black plastic Ray-Ban Balorama wraparound sunglasses and his stainless Timex analog watch with a round white face and an expanding bracelet.

His style is simple but classy, with a stainless watch and his Ray-Bans adding small but noticeable touches to an outfit.

His style is simple but classy, with a stainless watch and his Ray-Bans adding small but noticeable touches to an outfit.

 

Go Big or Go Home

At this point in Dirty Harry, it’s fair to feel bad for Harry. After all, he spent the bulk of the film doing what no one was able to do, chasing down the ruthless Scorpio Killer and finally catching up with him. Furthermore, Harry actually managed to make the brutal serial killer feel the pain he deserved, rather than just slapping the cuffs on him. Of course, Harry’s forced interrogation – standing on Scorpio’s wounded leg – and his disregard for Scorpio’s fourth amendment rights led to the killer being released. As Harry warns, Scorpio indeed strikes again, this time kidnapping a school bus full of children. The only thing that gets in his way is Dirty Harry.

While this is likely not a position you’ll find yourself in every day, Harry’s dedication to his work is admirable. No one watches Dirty Harry and says, “Boy, he was a little too rough with that serial killer!” We’re all on Harry’s side. Whether you’re a banker or a barista, bring that sort of passion to your work everyday.

How to Get the Look

Harry’s look is simple and smart. If you’re the type of guy that can pull off brown – I mean, a lot of brown – this is the suit for you.

  • dhsuit-crop1Dark brown polyester three-piece suit, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted jacket with notch lapels, 3-button front, 2-button cuffs, welted breast pocket, straight flapped pockets, and long double rear vents
    • Single-breasted vest
    • Flat front trousers with belt loops and turn-ups/cuffs
  • White long-sleeve dress shirt with large spread collar, front placket, and buttoned cuffs
  • Dark brown patterned tie
  • Dark brown leather plain-toe bluchers
  • Dark brown dress socks
  • Black leather belt
  • Ray-Ban Balorama black plastic wraparound sunglasses
  • Timex wristwatch with an expanding stainless bracelet and a round white face
  • Light brown shoulder holster (RHD) for a Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver

The Gun

Harry’s sidearm is his tool of justice and has become one of the most iconic weapons in film history. It is, famously, a .44 Magnum revolver. The Smith & Wesson Model 29, the weapon used by Harry, was first developed in 1955 and named two years later when S&W began numbering their models. Sales of the .44 Magnum were slow during its first 16 years, but when Clint Eastwood armed himself with one in Dirty Harry, sales jumped through the roof. Sporting goods stores that had previously only sold the Model 29 to a few hunters and sport shooters couldn’t keep the gun in stock.

A Smith & Wesson Model 29 with the barrel, as carried by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry.

A long-barreled Smith & Wesson Model 29, as carried by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. This image is on the incredibly resourceful IMFDB site.

Although the gun made an impression on viewers in Harry’s first scene, it was Harry’s handling of it in the final scene (“Do I feel lucky?”) that cemented the gun – and the character – in the minds of viewers. It also cemented a famous misquoting of the line (“Do you feel lucky, punk?”) in the mouths of viewers.

Although, staring down the barrel of this, audiences were probably a bit too intimidated to remember exactly what it was Harry said.

Although, staring down the barrel of this, audiences were probably a bit too intimidated to remember exactly what it was Harry said.

John Milius, who wrote the initial draft of the screenplay, recalls having the exact gun in mind for the film:

I remember that was one of the first movies where I made them give me a gun. I had this gun in mind, I knew where this gun was. I made them give me a $2,000 gun, I remember. I had to have the gun, and they said, “We’ll send for the gun.” I said, “No, you don’t understand. If I don’t have the gun today, when the gun comes here, I’ll have to stop everything just to look at it for a whole day, and that will slow everything up.” So they sent a limo for the gun, or a station wagon or something, for the gun. Brought the gun over, a wonderful gun. Unfortunately, I traded it off over the years. I looked at the gun for the rest of the day, then I started the thing and wrote it in 21 days. And that’s Dirty Harry.

It’s a shame that Milius, who firmly cemented the .44 Magnum’s place in cinematic history, was uncredited for his work, especially as Milius was the author of the “Do I feel lucky?” monologue. However, Milius received his due when he was given one of the Model 29s actually used in the production of Dirty Harry and Magnum Force. If you know anything about John Milius, you know that he’d probably rather have the gun than the credit anyway.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the Dirty Harry collection.

The Quote

I know what you’re thinking, punk. You’re thinking “did he fire six shots or only five?” Now, to tell you the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement. But, being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and will blow you head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself a question… “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

dhsuit-lucky1

3 comments

  1. Max

    Wow, I can’t believe I missed this one! Having a new baby at home sucks out your brain. Always a pleasure to see Harry make an appearance. In my view no better definition of the BAMF. Trying to downsize the clutter in my apartment a few weeks ago, I moved the big safe to a friend’s garage and replaced it with a much smaller one. The 29-2 and Lawman holster had to go with the big safe because there really was no practical reason to have it ready-to-hand, but it was a tough decision.

    As I read your excellent post, I kept hearing Harry’s hiss: “‘No brown in town?’ What the f**k is that supposed to mean . . . hammerhead?”

    Like

    • luckystrike721

      Max,
      Congratulations on the latest addition to your family! I certainly understand how things have been hectic lately; I’m honored that you’ve had time to read my blog at all! The important thing is to remember that no matter what you’re wearing, you’re always gonna be a BAMF in their eyes.

      Does your friend realize he now has a S&W 29-2 in his garage? This must be one very trusted friend! 😉

      Thanks for the kind words regarding the post. Having Clint Eastwood call me “hammerhead” would be both the greatest and the scariest moment of my life.

      Like

      • Max

        The 29-2 is the least valuable thing in that safe. More to your point, his collection far, far outshines mine.

        For my part, I’d be honored just to have Clint hurl an insult at my empty chair.

        Like

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