After “The Enforcer,” the last Dirty Harry film of the 1970s, Eastwood took the directorial reins of “Sudden Impact” and smashed into the 1980s with an outrageous slap bass score by Lalo Schifrin and a brand-new catchphrase: “Go ahead, make my day.”
Inspector Harry Callahan’s day begins like any other. He drops by his local diner for a large black coffee poured by Loretta, his dutiful server of some 10 years. However, as he walks back to his car, Harry finds that his coffee is sitting on about a pound of sugar. Alarmed, he returns to find a group of armed punks casing the joint for wallets, watches, and anything of value.
Clearly, Harry will handle these guys, no problem. There’s no doubt (or tension) about that. But the pleasure here is in the dialogue, penned by Joseph Stinson and script doctor firebrand John Milius. My favorite line arrives just before the famous one. “Who’s we, Sucka?” asks a robber when Harry suggests he is not alone. “Smith & Wesson and me” is the ridiculous answer.
“Go ahead, make my day,” comes a short while later after he’s cleared the diner of all but one of the criminals, who has backed himself into a corner with a gun and a hostage. Milius must have sipped a beer after he came up with that one. The pithy riposte is so versatile that even President Reagan used it at the 1985 American Business Conference.