Tag: Bullitt

“You work your side of the street and I’ll work mine.”

Deadline:

Even as he juggles an awards-season campaign for West Side Story and post-production on his semi-autobiographical pic The Fablemans, Steven Spielberg looks to be getting that future dance card in order. Sources tell Deadline that he is attached to direct a new original story centered on Frank Bullitt, the iconic character played by Steve McQueen in the 1968 thriller Bullitt. Spielberg will also produce the pic along with Kristie Macosko Krieger, with Josh Singer on board to pen the script. The film is set up at Warner Bros.

Sources do add that with no script and deals being finalized, this would likely not be the next project Spielberg directs.

Sources were adamant this is not a remake of the original film but a new idea centered on the character. In the original film, Frank Bullitt is a no-nonsense San Francisco cop on the hunt for the mob kingpin that killed his witness. Considered one of McQueen’s more iconic roles, the film delivers one of the most famous car-chase scenes in cinema history.

Steve McQueen’s son, Chad ,and granddaughter Molly McQueen will exec produce the new movie.

Insiders say Spielberg had been toying with the idea to direct a film based on the character for some time and came close last year to making it his follow-up to West Side Story, but head to negotiate with the McQueen estate for rights to the character before he would attach as a director. With the negotiations taking longer then expected, Spielberg shifted his focus to directing The Fablemans, the film loosely based on the director’s childhood growing up in Arizona, and moved off of this film.

Once filming wrapped on Fablemans, he circled back to the Bullitt project and recently tapped Singer to pen the script.

Readers know that “Bullitt” is my favorite movie (based, as was “Dirty Harry,” on the same San Francisco detective), so of course this piques my interest. Quoting from myself:

A review I read suggests the ending suggests there could have been a “Bullitt” sequel. There are few successful sequels to the original, of course, although sequels can still be entertaining. It’s tantalizing for this fans of this movie to wonder about “Bullitt II,” including how you could possibly top that car chase. Others here suggested, believe it or don’t, Ryan Phillippe (with Bisset as his mother), Nicholas Cage, Lawrence Fishburne, McQueen’s real-life son Chad (who was in a movie that featured, surprise!, a 1968 Mustang), and even Sandra Bullock as Bullitt’s long-lost daughter. Of course, Ford decided to make a sequel to the Bullitt Mustang, the latest of which is available at a Ford dealership near you.

This being imagination-challenged Hollywood of the 21st century, there apparently were plans a decade ago to remake “Bullitt” with Brad Pitt in the lead, allegedly because “Brad shares a lot of the same passions as Steve McQueen – including a love of motorbikes and fast cars — so it was a dream role for him.” Or not. Perfection (though the movie is not perfect) cannot be remade. If you’re going to do that, then why not put Bullitt and Dirty Harry together, since the same detective inspired both, and the great Schifrin set both to music?

I was relieved to see that this is not a remake.

50 years ago at a theater near you

Readers of this blog know that this, out of my favorite genre of movies, is my favorite movie, which premiered in the U.S. 50 years ago today.

The movie was based on the novel Mute Witness, about a San Francisco police lieutenant — played by, Steve McQueen, one of The Three Cool Steves, and based on the same San Francisco police detective on whom “Dirty Harry” was based — assigned to protect a witness for a government hearing on organized crime, and what happens when said witness is killed. (Warning: Spoilers ahead.)

Robert Vaughn plays the politician (State legislator? District attorney? That’s never made clear) who thinks his career is going to skyrocket when the mob witness testifies, and seeks to castrate (direct quote from the movie) our hero when the witness dies.

The witness’ killers decide to follow Bullitt as he tries to solve the murder, leading to the greatest car chase in the history of cinema (which I have yet to see in a theater).

But all is not as it seems. Another murder takes place …

… and evidence at murder scene number two reveals that the dead guy isn’t who Chalmers thought he was, and that the supposed witness is still alive. Of course, slimy Chalmers still wants his witness to testify despite his having committed a murder.

The chase is, of course, fantastic, with appropriate vehicles. So is the soundtrack, by the great Lalo Schifrin. One might wonder about how a cop of approximately 40 has a girlfriend several years younger, but she’s Jacqueline Bisset, so stop asking impertinent questions.

As happens with many cop movies and TV shows, there is some rank inflation here. Bullitt is a lieutenant, which is more of a supervisory role in police departments than depicted here (think of Andy Sipowicz’s various superiors on “NYPD Blue”), unless San Francisco detective lieutenants (a group that includes Lt. Mike Stone of “The Streets of San Francisco,” by the way) supervise one detective sergeant and one inspector (what detectives were called in San Francisco, including Harry Callahan). Remember that the model for both Bullitt and Dirty Harry was a San Francisco detective, not a higher-ranked officer. And I’ve wondered for years about Bullitt’s boss’ comment, “The papers love you, Frank,” given how taciturn Bullitt is in this movie.

The story winds around as much as Lombard Street in San Francisco, but it’s a satisfying whodunit, though it poses after-viewing questions. Wikipedia’s summation of the movie suggests that the brother of the mob guy — who, Chalmers neglects to mention, stole $2 million from the Chicago mob — had him killed by the two who later chase Bullitt. (I’ve never pondered before whether if you hire a hit man to kill somebody you have to pay him if he kills the wrong person. Is there a money-back guarantee?) And then real mob guy, who hired fake guy, kills his girlfriend once he somehow finds out his impersonator is in stable condition at room temperature to eliminate the final person who knows about his plot.

Killing the wrong guy is one interpretation. Another that comes to my mind is that the real mob guy stole from the Chicago mob, hired the fake guy to portray him, then hired the two hitmen to kill fake guy and girlfriend, but had to kill the girlfriend himself once he somehow found out that his hitmen were dead.

I alluded to another question that comes to mind, about Chalmers. His office is never identified in the movie, but he’s powerful and/or wealthy enough to have underlings and be driven around in a limousine. The star witness is testifying at what I assume is a federal hearing (imdb.com claims it’s a Senate subcommittee hearing), since he’s from Chicago and the hearing is in San Francisco. One of Bullitt’s superiors mentions that Chalmers can help the SFPD in Sacramento. But Chalmers is never referred to anything but by his name — not Congressman or Senator or Assemblyman, and based on the aforementioned comment he’s evidently not a district attorney or U.S. attorney.

Successful fiction requires effective verisimilitude. You have to believe, for instance, that John Wayne in his mid-60s could be a Chicago police lieutenant in “Brannigan” and a Seattle police lieutenant in “McQ,” or that Dirty Harry could kill 45 people and stay employed and out of prison. The thing about “Bullitt” is that its almost documentary-style filming makes it seem realistic, whether or not it’s realistic to guard a government witness with one detective in a bad hotel, or to have a police lieutenant who stares down oily politicians and does things his own way, consequences be damned.

This movie also exudes style, as Dig With It observes:

Lieutenant Frank Bullitt worked for the San Francisco Police Department and drove a Ford Mustang GT 390 Fastback in Highland Green. He gunned that V8 engine to 115mph in pursuit of Chicago hitmen in a fierce chase around Fisherman’s Wharf, Russian Hill and Guadalupe Canyon Parkway. It’s one of the best-known car chases in film, stunningly edited. The cop wears a blue cashmere turtleneck and a tweed jacket but the composure is set to chill.

The Bullitt look was put together in the 1968 production by Doug Hayward the tailor and the costume designer Theodora Van Runkle. That said, McQueen was wearing similar clothes five years before the filming, so his own signature was there. The herringbone jacket with the notched lapels and unstructured shoulders is distinctly Ivy League, but the side vents and flap pockets are English. Likewise with the elongated elbow patch on the left sleeve, a pragmatic design for rifle shooting excursions, down and dirty.

Charcoal worsted trousers and a fast draw holster complete the ensemble. Since much of the action takes place at the weekend, the Lieutenant has put the navy suit aside. The task is witness protection, keeping Johnny Ross safe from the mob. But the situation is twisted and Bullitt’s charge is shot down at the Hotel Daniels.

Yet the Lieutenant will not tolerate the set-up. The District Attorney is Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) who favours a shifty method. “Integrity is something you sell,” he hisses. But Bullitt looks at him with the blue, undimmed eyes. There a similar response when his girlfriend Cathy (Jacqueline Bisset) realises the brutal nature of his job. “You’re living in a sewer, Frank.”

Elsewhere in pop culture, hair was long, drugs were plentiful and the music was fried and electrified. In 1968 The Rolling Stones were singing ‘Street Fighting Man’ and the French students were having a riot of their own. Frank Bullitt may have looked square, but he was anti-establishment after his own classic fashion. He did not submit to The Man.

But you knew that.

A review I read suggests the ending suggests there could have been a “Bullitt” sequel. There are few successful sequels to the original, of course, although sequels can still be entertaining. It’s tantalizing for this fans of this movie to wonder about “Bullitt II,” including how you could possibly top that car chase. Others here suggested, believe it or don’t, Ryan Phillippe (with Bisset as his mother), Nicholas Cage, Lawrence Fishburne, McQueen’s real-life son Chad (who was in a movie that featured, surprise!, a 1968 Mustang), and even Sandra Bullock as Bullitt’s long-lost daughter. Of course, Ford decided to make a sequel to the Bullitt Mustang, the latest of which is available at a Ford dealership near you.

This being imagination-challenged Hollywood of the 21st century, there apparently were plans a decade ago to remake “Bullitt” with Brad Pitt in the lead, allegedly because “Brad shares a lot of the same passions as Steve McQueen – including a love of motorbikes and fast cars — so it was a dream role for him.” Or not. Perfection (though the movie is not perfect) cannot be remade. If you’re going to do that, then why not put Bullitt and Dirty Harry together, since the same detective inspired both, and the great Schifrin set both to music?

 

 

“You work your side of the street, and I’ll work mine.”

Earlier this year, from SFGate.com:

Dave Toschi, a dapper cop who became the lead San Francisco police investigator for the Zodiac serial-killer case in the late 1960s and ’70s, has died at the age of 86.

Toschi died at his home in San Francisco on Saturday after a lengthy illness, relatives said.

The Zodiac terrorized the Bay Area in 1968 and 1969 when he stabbed or shot at least five people to death, writing taunting notes and cryptograms to police and newspapers including The Chronicle after his kills. Toschi was drawn into the case when he was assigned to investigate the killing of the Zodiac’s only San Francisco victim — Paul Stine, a cabbie shot to death in his taxi on Oct. 11, 1969.

It was the Zodiac’s final confirmed slaying. Like every other inspector looking into the saga, from federal agents to police in Vallejo and Napa County, Toschi was unable to solve the case. But he never lost zeal for the mystery, friends said. …

In addition to his work on the Zodiac killings, Toschi was part of the team that solved the racially motivated Zebra murders in the early 1970s, in which four black men were convicted of the random slayings of 14 white people. In 1985 he received a meritorious conduct award from the department for arresting a man who raped senior citizens and burglarized their homes.

His penchant for bow ties, snappy trench coats and the quick-draw holster for his .38-caliber pistol drew the attention of Steve McQueen, who patterned his character in the 1968 movie “Bullitt” after Toschi. Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” character was also partially inspired by him.

Toschi was the inspiration for two famous fictional police detectives who did not dress like Toschi:

 

 

 

Thomas Scalzo reviewed “Bullitt” …

When first we meet Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, he’s fast asleep, dressed in a pair of cozy-looking pajamas. Jarred awake by his partner Delgetti buzzing at his apartment door, he stumbles to let him in, and then lurches back to bed. “What time d’you get to bed this morning, Frank?” asks Delgetti, moving into the kitchen to pour a glass of OJ. “About 5:00,” Bullitt replies, visibly fighting down his hangover nausea and feebly reaching for what he thinks is his glass of juice. When Delgetti instead takes a gulp and begins to read the morning paper, aloud, Bullitt stares at him in disgust. “Why don’t you just relax and have your orange juice, and shut up,” he says, obviously not looking forward to whatever assignment his captain has in store, and clearly regretting whatever it was that put him in such a state.

What’s intriguing about this introduction to Bullitt is not so much its originality – untold cop stories begin with a besotted hero grudgingly coming back to life after a long night – as its incongruousness with everything that follows. For aside from these opening frames, Bullitt is a consummate man’s man—unflappable, assured, and impeccably cool. Sure, we have the occasional non-action scene – Bullitt buys frozen dinners, Bullitt takes his lady friend to dinner – to show us he’s not all work. But never again is the man as vulnerable, or as human, as he is in these opening moments. Inevitably, when dealing with an intricate pulp crime drama like Bullitt, plot comes first. But the subtle characterization in this opening scene adds a welcome layer of complexity to the story and makes viewing the film a richer experience. Not only do we keep our eyes peeled in order to get to the bottom of the mystery, but also in hopes of catching another clue as to who this hard-boiled cop in the cardigan really is.

With this in mind, we watch as Bullitt collects himself enough to report for his latest assignment: babysitting Johnny Ross, the district attorney’s star witness. It seems a senate subcommittee hearing is scheduled for a few days hence and it’s Bullitt’s job to make sure Ross is on time and able to testify. Complicating matters is the Chicago crime syndicate who want the man dead before he can talk. And so, not long after stumbling out of bed, Bullitt finds himself in a tight spot: If the witness dies, the DA will have Bullitt’s badge. And as long as the witness lives, Bullitt is an enemy of the Mob. When Bullitt asks his captain what recommended him for such illustrious duty, he’s told, “You make good copy. They love you in the papers.” Again, we’re tantalized by the Bullitt back-story. What had he done to make the headlines? The mystery deepens.

(I wonder myself what that means. High-profile cases solved? He certainly doesn’t seem like a quote machine based on his not-even-laconic portrayal.)

Soon enough, however, our intrigue about Bullitt is forced to the backburner by the story of Johnny Ross and the men who want to kill him. At the start of the assignment, the case seems fairly simple: guard the guy for a few days and then hand him over to the DA. But when Johnny’s hideout is discovered, and he finds himself on the wrong end of a shotgun, things begin to get interesting. Instead of outright fear at his own mortality, Johnny appears confused. He even manages to stammer out “They told me…” before taking multiple shots to the body. Add to this the revelation that Ross actually unlocked the door for his would be assailant, and Bullitt’s ordinary case has erupted into a full-blown murder mystery.

Enhancing the obfuscation are several unusual filmmaking techniques in play throughout the picture. One persistent strategy involves positioning some sort of obstruction – be it a plate-glass window, a forest of legs, or another character’s head – between the camera and the central action of the scene. In most cases the action is still discernable, but the viewer is deliberately relegated to the role of outside observer, spying on the scene as opposed to being immersed in it. And in many instances, the dialogue of such scenes is muted, requiring us to distil the importance of the scene based on visual activity alone. There are also several instances of a scene being shot from a location adjacent to that of the main action. When Ross undergoes emergency medical procedures in an attempt to save his life, for instance, instead of shooting the scene from within the hospital room, Peter Yates places his camera in the hallway outside. Thus, we watch the traumatic proceedings at a distance, peering into the room like a nosy neighbor.

The net result of such storytelling strategies is to cast the viewer into the role of detective. Like Bullitt, we’re compelled to pay attention to everything we see and hear, to piece together clues, to ponder the significance of a subtle event, to wonder what is being said behind glass walls. Such reliance on audience attention span was surely risky, even in 1968. And the technique is a particularly tough sell to a present-day spectator accustomed to insecure pictures that go out of their way to ensure viewer passivity. No doubt many modern viewers will find themselves unable to get past the film’s slow pace and nuanced storytelling. The reward, however, for those willing to allow themselves to fall under the film’s spell, is an engrossing crime drama featuring a masterfully understated performance by Steve McQueen, and, eventually, several terrific – and iconic – action set-pieces.

First on the list is the sublime car chase through the hills of San Francisco. Comprising over twelve minutes of dialogue-free runtime, the sequence is a perfect amalgam of terrific stunt work, deft editing, and canny use of music. For the first three and a half minutes we watch as Bullitt and his quarry weave through the twisty streets, a cool jazz score the perfect accompaniment to the slick game of automotive cat and mouse. And then the hunted decides to make a break for it. The music stops, a seatbelt is snapped in place, and the race is on. With squealing tires and revving engines the only soundtrack, the combatants burst out of the confines of the city and rocket onto the highways beyond.

In conspicuous contrast to much of the preceding film, this celebrated scene places the viewer smack dab in the middle of the action. No longer are we compelled to peer past obstacles or wonder at the significance of what’s taking place behind glass windows. Instead, we’re treated to an enticing mix of behind-the-windshield shots offering a first-hand view at the chase, intimate close-ups of the drivers’ determined faces as they navigate the perilous roadways, and unobstructed cutaways of the cars ripping around corners. Not only does the inspired editing of these shots achieve the astounding feat of keeping us riveted to the screen for minute after minute of wordless action, it also highlights the narrative significance of the sequence. Obscured shots aren’t needed here because Bullitt isn’t groping in the dark for answers. The men who want Ross dead are in his sights, and it’s time to get them.

Less famous, but equally enthralling, is the final showdown at the airport, full of gunfire drowned out by the roar of turbines and roving spotlights randomly illuminating the hunter and the hunted as they dive under jets, crisscross the runway, and desperately take cover behind the low-lying scrub brush. Eventually, the riotous chase leads back into the airport proper, and to the climax of the film. In the midst of all this action, however, we reach an unexpected moment that reminds us that, though the mystery of the plot is soon to be explained, the mystery of Bullitt remains. Convinced that his man is waiting on the other side of a closed door, Bullitt draws his gun, the action accompanied by a musical cue. In astonishment, we realize we’re witnessing the first time Bullitt has drawn his weapon. Clearly we’re meant to note the event, and attach significance to it. But why? What is it about the man’s past that makes this action so momentous? Before we have time to ponder the question, however, Bullitt has burst through the door, gun in hand.

After the last shot is fired and the sirens have faded into the night, we once again find ourselves in Bullitt’s lonely apartment, with our hero looking much the worse for wear. He splashes some water on his face and stares at himself in the mirror. He looks tired. But there’s something other than fatigue in his eyes: a sense of regret, possibly, or of doubt—the look of a man contemplating staying up till five, with a bottle, trying to forget. And as the camera shifts away from our hero, to focus directly on the violent tools of his trade, we begin to understand why.

Of course, Frank Bullitt was neither the first, nor the last, loner detective to grace the big screen. From the many incarnations of Philip Marlow to Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry to Al Pacino’s Vincent Hanna in Heat, the history of cinematic crime storytelling is chock full of men whose dedication to work always gets in the way of anything resembling a meaningful relationship or a normal home life. And in those rare instances where domesticity is part of the story, the film suffers. … It seems that when these figures have something to lose, they are unable to take the authority-defying risks that make them appealing. Perhaps this appeal lies in offering a historically male audience vicarious immersion in a world where they don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s only natural, then, that we smile when Bullitt, asked about work by his ladylove, replies, “It’s not for you, baby.” Because deep down, we know it’s not for us either. And that’s why we watch.

… and later compared it to “Dirty Harry” …

Having recently analyzed Peter Yates’ Bullitt, also a loose-cannon cop story (and also scored by Schiffrin), comparisons between McQueen’s Bullitt and Eastwood’s Callahan were inevitable. Like Bullitt, Callahan is an authority-defying San Francisco detective tasked with a difficult and dangerous case. Also like Bullitt, Callahan faces a formidable swath of red tape standing between him and successful completion of the job. David Thomson, that inimitable author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film, has even gone so far as to call Bullitt “a pioneer for Dirty Harry.”

Unfortunately, following the loner cop trail that Bullitt blazed has lead Harry Callahan, not merely to a place of professional frustration, but to a land of outright impotence. Unlike Bullitt, whose daily tasks regularly find him in the role of the aggressor – actively chasing the bad guys through the streets of San Francisco, for instance – Callahan’s action set pieces often find him simply reacting to events beyond his control. Most notable among these is the gripping ransom sequence in which Harry plays bagman to the killer’s cash-for-captive-girl demands. Hoping to evade a possible police trap, Scorpio demands that Harry follow a circuitous route to the drop site, revealing each subsequent step of the journey by phone. Throughout the course of an endless night, Harry crisscrosses the city, running from phone booth to phone booth to obtain his orders, completely at the mercy of a madman’s whims.

Even when Harry becomes so fed up by being led around by the nose that he does take the aggressive tack – trailing the killer to his home and forcibly obtaining the location of the missing girl – he’s summarily cut off at the knees by his superiors, who claim his methods were inappropriate and the evidence he obtained inadmissible. Despite Harry’s efforts, Scorpio will be set free. Eastwood’s incredulous and exasperated expression at hearing this news perfectly encapsulates Harry’s impotence. How can a man be expected to endure in a world where criminals are coddled and lawmen are rebuked for doing their jobs? As these scenes demonstrate, Harry is a man assailed by the fates at every turn, seemingly incapable of directing the course of his own life.

Such powerlessness over one’s existence inevitably leads to mounting frustration, and the desperate need for release. Stymied professionally, Harry’s thoughts inevitably turn to sex. Unfortunately, as a man who lost his wife some time ago, and has no intimate relationship that we know of, Harry seems doomed to frustration in this realm, too. In fact, Harry seems almost incapable of relating to women as a mature adult.

Take his encounter with Hot Mary and her boyfriend. After trailing a suspect down a dark alley, Harry watches his quarry enter an apartment building. Peering in at the man from a window outside, Harry quickly determines that he’s got the wrong guy. But instead of walking away, he stays, watching, and then leering, as the man disrobes his pulchritudinous girlfriend. And then there’s the rooftop stakeout. Training his binoculars on a nearby apartment building, he happens upon a lovely naked woman prancing about behind a curtainless window. Catching himself leering again, he turns away. But then he mutters, “You owe it to yourself to live a little, Harry,” and returns his gaze to the girl. At that very moment, however, Scorpio strikes and Harry must leap into action. Incredibly, the pleasures of even this voyeuristic outlet are denied him.

To a man thus frustrated, the only apparent avenue of release that remains is violence. And for Harry Callahan, violence means firing a gun. Take the bank robbery scene. Calmly enjoying a lunch of hotdogs, Harry hears some commotion behind him. After leaping out of his seat and running into the street, Harry unsheathes his weapon and fires, killing a few of the men and critically wounding another. Harry then walks directly up to the wounded man, points the legendary Magnum in his face, and spouts his famous line about the prowess of his sidearm. Compare this quick-draw demeanor – and obvious revelry in the chance to fire his gun – with Bullitt’s impeccable restraint, drawing his weapon only once, and then only when he has no other choice.

… joined by the setting and soundtracks by the great Lalo Schifrin:

 

 

 

Imagine a movie that included Bullitt’s chase and, let’s call him, Dirty Harry Bullitt. Of course, that idea has been done, but not well.

 

As opposed to an actual police officer

I was reading an entertaining police e-novel, The Cozen Protocol, written by a pseudonymous author who is believed to be a former Milwaukee police officer.

At the same time, a friend of mine mentioned on Facebook that he was watching a John Wayne movie. My friend is a huge John Wayne fan.

Wayne portrayed a lot of cowboys and a lot of military officers. (Plus, regrettably, Genghis Khan.) He portrayed two cops in back-to-back movies, “McQ” and “Brannigan.”

Indeed, it’s easy to confuse the two. Both have ’70s-cool soundtracks …

… car chases during the movie …

… and car chases at the end of the movie:

“McQ” is the darker of the two, with the Seattle police lieutenant battling corrupt cops. Chicago’s detective Brannigan is sent to London t0 pick up a gangster for extradition, only said gangster gets away just before Brannigan arrives. (Otherwise it would have been a really short movie.)

Then again, both movies could be said to have been inspired by two previous movies both set in San Francisco, “Bullitt” and “Dirty Harry,” which have cool themes by the great Lalo Schifrin

… and, well, one of them has a car chase …

… while the other has a human chase that concludes with …

Both Bullitt and Callahan were inspired by a real-life San Francisco police inspector, David Toschi, the lead investigator of San Francisco’s never-solved Zodiac murders.

Wayne reportedly turned down the Dirty Harry role. (Which, had he taken it, probably would have ended the series after three movies, since Wayne died before “Sudden Impact” and “The Dead Pool.”) Before him, Frank Sinatra reportedly turned down “Bullitt.” In each case, it’s impossible to imagine someone other than Steve McQueen as Bullitt or Clint Eastwood as Bullitt’s SFPD colleague Harry Callahan.

The ’60s and ’70s were the zenith of cop movies (related, as you know, to cop TV), particularly movies about maverick cops. I wrote earlier about my formula for TV viewing: Cool car + cool theme music = something I’d watch. That applies to movies too.

Of course, each of these movies takes extensive liberties with police work. “Bullitt,” which painstakingly goes into detail of the investigation of a murder, nonetheless clashes with a politician by hiding his star witness-turned-corpse. Dirty Harry thinks Miranda is a dancer who wore fruit baskets on her head. McQ borrows a machine gun, and Brannigan accidentally tries to destroy London in the process of finding the fugitive gangster.

If you look at Dirty Harry as the five-movie series, the other thing each has in common is, well, eye candy for the male audience, beginning with Bullitt’s girlfriend, played by Jacqueline Bisset (whose character is 10 to 15 years younger than Bullitt, but who cares?):

Dirty Harry was a widower, but Eastwood had then-real-life girlfriend Sondra Locke in “Sudden Impact”:

McQ had Diana Muldaur (who later became the girlfriend of Taos, N.M., Marshal Sam McCloud when McCloud ended up in New York City). Brannigan was escorted around London by Judy Geeson.

TV Tropes would suggest that there are four kinds of police officers in TV or film:

  • The By-the-Book Cop, “the older (and usually whiter) cop, who believes in following the law as it is written, playing by the rules even when the criminal scum they’re after does not. A stickler for procedure, the BTBC is quick to chide their rookie partner for playing fast and loose out in the streets, and when they’re Da Chief, you’ll see them constantly threaten to suspend the loose cannon for their impulsive heat-of-the-moment shoot-first-ask-questions-later behavior. If they deem that the situation warrants it, they may bend the rules slightly, but they’ll never go so far as to break them; they are, after all, honest and incorruptible.”
  • The Cowboy Cop: “Sure, our society may be built upon rules and procedures, but they make for bad television. Sometimes you have to bend the rules, rough up the suspectsmoon your supervisors and shred the Constitution to get stuff done.”
  • The Dirty Cop: “Brutal, fascist, and often on the take from the local mob, this cop makes most criminals and prisoners look like…well, saints.”
  • The Rabid Cop, who “might be casually dirty, or overbearingly self-righteous, or anywhere in between, but they all have two things in common: a reckless disregard for civil rights, and an unwavering conviction that any person they’ve identified as “the perp” really is a perp (regardless of any contradicting evidence) and deserves to suffer. Rules and trials are for the PERMISSIVE LIBERAL ASS-WIPES! In a Good Cop/Bad Cop routine, they usually take the “Bad Cop” ball and run clear out of the stadium with it. Likely to enjoy using Torture for Fun and Information.”

Put two of these together (even of the same type), and you get the Buddy Cop Show.

You might conclude from what you’ve read that movies and TV shows that depict police are less than realistic. But there is a TV series in another country just waiting for some American producer to make. Lowbrow? Probably. Destined to be hugely successful? Undoubtedly.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present …

… “Alarm für  Cobra 11 — Die Autobahnpolizei,” which “combines the dead-serious tone and high production values of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise with car stunts worthy of Michael Bay or The Dukes of Hazzard. Nearly every episode has at least two or three frenzied chase sequences and at least one multi-car pileup. … Think about it. A petrol-exploding, collaterally-damaging, bullet-spurting take on the legendary hardcore profession of… writing traffic tickets.”

So? you ask. Here’s the thing: This series has been on German TV since 1996.