'Go Ahead, Make My Day:' Dirty Harry's Famous Dare

By | January 11, 2019

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Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry Callahan, delivering his most famous line: 'Go ahead, make my day.' Source: IMDB

It's been one of the all-time most repeatable movie lines ever since Clint Eastwood uttered it on screen in Sudden Impact: "Go ahead, make my day." "Dirty" Harry Callahan, Eastwood's character in the 1983 film, is a San Francisco cop and a man of few words -- but when he opens his mouth, he makes it count. Eastwood played Callahan in five films, beginning with Dirty Harry in 1971 and finishing with The Dead Pool in 1988.

The quote was actually written by Charles B. Pierce, an independent filmmaker who got the phrase from his father. It was a favorite threat that the elder Pierce would make to his son:  "Just let me come home one more day without you mowing the lawn, son, just go ahead -- make my day."

Pierce's father could hardly have known just how famous that line would become; it's consistently ranked among the most memorable lines ever said on screen, and was even used by President Ronald Reagan in a public statement about taxes.

Though his most famous line might be "Go ahead, make my day," Dirty Harry has uttered a few others film fans are fond of regurgitating. From Dirty Harry, there's the line often misquoted as "do you feel lucky, punk?" -- it's actually: "You have to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?" In Magnum Force (1973), Harry Callahan's catchphrase is "A man's got to know his limitations."

Here's The Scene From 'Sudden Impact'

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Eastwood in 'Sudden Impact.' Source: IMDB

As Clint Eastwood’s character in the movie, Harry Callahan, walks into the coffee shop where he frequently goes to get his coffee, he unknowingly walks in on a robbery in progress. Continuing to read his morning paper, he waits for the waitress to pour his coffee, not even looking up. He lays his money on the counter and walks out with his coffee. Then, taking a swallow, he quickly spits it out as it is full of sugar and the waitress knows that he always drinks his coffee black. Callahan goes back inside from the back of the place, realizing that something is up. He confronts the thieves, nonchalantly telling them that “we” are just not going to let them walk out of there. One of the bad guys asks “who is we?” In typical Eastwood fashion, he says, while reaching for his gun “Smith and Wesson – and me.” Then he shoots all but one of them. The last thief grabs the waitress and holds a gun to her head. Here, Eastwood dares the nervous hood to do something stupid with the famous line: "Go ahead, make my day." To the would-be thief, the intent is clear: Harry has already shot his accomplices, and if this guy tries anything but surrender, it will be the excuse Harry needs to shoot him as well. And after a long pause, the bad guy backs down.