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

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."