In a famous scene of Dirty Harry, Inspector Harry Callahan stops a bank heist very nonchalantly using deadly force. Near the end of the scene, Harry dry-fires his revolver at one of the robbers.

Harry : I know what you're thinking. 'Did he fire six shots or only five'? Well to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kind of lost track myself. But being that this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do ya, punk?

The robber stays still and Harry picks the shotgun off the floor. As he is leaving, the robber calls to him.

Robber : Hey !

Harry turns around.

Robber : I gots to know.

Harry points the revolver at the robber's head, causing great distress as he pushes the trigger, nothing. Harry snickers before leaving for good.

From this scene we know one of two things is true:

  • Harry lied about losing track of the bullet count and just made his speech as an intimidation tactic. OR
  • Harry didn't lie and was willing to possibly kill the robber to answer his curiosity.

Do we know which of those things is true? Did Harry just feel lucky at the point of shooting? I gots to know.

1 Answer 1


One of my favorite movies!

Firstly, the film is loosely based on real-life events. Scorpio is based on the Zodiac Killer and Dirty Harry on the inspector who was assigned on the case (David Toschi). Mark Ruffalo portrayed this inspector in the film Zodiac.

This could be an opinion but I make the following case and my supporting evidence.

As a police officer with a badge and a gun, Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan has an oath to protect the public and behave in an ethical way. The consequences of shooting an unarmed suspect at point-blank range would be tremendous. He would face criminal charges and become just as bad as the people that he arrests if not worse.

He absolutely knew how many bullets were in his gun and accurately predicted that the criminal would not reach for the shotgun.

It has nothing to do with luck as

he also accurately knew how many bullets he had at the end of the movie when dealing with Scorpio. The very last bullet was what saved his life and ended that of the criminal.

  • 8
    become just as bad as the people that he arrests if not worse. Well, I thought that was the whole point of a movie called Dirty Harry. Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 7:46
  • 4
    @EricDuminil, it's one thing to intimidate a criminal with a gun. Quite another to shoot an unarmed suspect in the forehead, execution-style. I think even Dirty Harry couldn't get away with that one
    – m1gp0z
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 15:00

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