Revisiting Dirty Harry’s last hurrah The Dead Pool

It wasn’t much of a movie – but it did give us one last catch-up with one helluva character : Detective Harry Callahan, the take-no-prisoners, shoot-first-ask-questions-later protagonist from the action classic “Dirty Harry”.

“The Dead Pool”.

And yes kids, the title of that film did inspire the comic book character’s name.

Clint Eastwood (then also the Mayor of Carmel) agreed to reprise the copper for the fifth and final time as part of a handshake deal he made with Warner Bros who, in exchange for getting another sequel out of Eastwood (the last one he ever did, actually), agreed to finance his film “Bird”.

As good as it was to see old Harry again, can’t for sure say it was a good move.

Eastwood would anchor a film that also featured the likes of Liam Neeson, Patricia Clarkson, Evan C.Kim, David Hunt, Michael Goodwin and a then-unknown Jim Carrey (billed as James). Eastwood-staple Buddy Van Horn would direct. Warners fancied Steve Sharon’s script, which concerns the manipulation of a celebrity dead pool game by a serial killer, whose efforts are confronted by grizzly old Callahan.

Swiftly rushed into production in January of 1988, the movie was before the cameras in February and in theaters by that July.

“Dirty Harry in The Dead Pool” chalked up fairly ho-hum reviews and generated about $37 million on release in the U.S- just $7 million more than it’s budget. In other words, Warner Bros were pretty much convinced that the peel had come off the “Harry” banana by the time this once hit theaters and decided never to go back to the well again (but watch, they’ll remake the original in a few years…).

Here’s some other interesting facts about the film…

1. Guns N’ Roses not only cameo in the film, but lent their track ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ to the movie. “[Eastwood] came up to us on the set, and the guy’s like 9 feet tall,” Slash said in an interview. “Yeah, he’s very intimidating. He walked up to us and said, ‘Great album,’ shook our hands and walked off. I didn’t really know what to think of it, so I don’t know what his trip is.” Members of the band appeared in a couple of sequences during the film.

2. Rather than have Guns n’ Roses lip-sync to their own song, the film credits ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ to fictional musician, Johnny Squares, played by Jim Carrey. Carrey, who only has about 5 minutes of screentime in the film, apparently impressed Eastwood with his ‘Elvis’ impersonation in his audition and got the gig.

3. In one of the most memorable scenes from the film, Harry is pursued through San Francisco’s steep hills by by miniature remote-controlled car (assembled and controlled by an actor) containing an R/C bomb for Rook to detonate.

The R/C car used for the film was a highly modified Associated RC10 electric race buggy powered by a Reedy motor that had to be geared up high to an 8.4v NiCd battery, topped with an off-the-shelf 1963 Chevrolet Corvette R/C car body by Parma International. The RC10 had its suspension lowered from the original to a lower ground clearance for better high-speed stability. Needing the best R/C car driver to control the RC10 action, Van Horn hired the 1985 off-road world champion R/C driver Jay Halsey. At first, Van Horn was unsure if the RC10 could keep up with the Oldsmobile, so for the scene where both vehicles start from the top of the hill, the director allowed both cars to start-off together. As a result, the RC10 outran the Oldsmobile, so the scene had to be re-filmed with the Oldsmobile reaching the bottom first. At one point in a scene where the cars interact, the RC10 jumps over the Oldsmobile, lands, and then proceeds to the end of the street to wait for the Oldsmobile. One scene, in which Halsey was only required to drive the RC10 at full speed to where the bomb was to be detonated, required over a week to film. A motorized tricycle with a camera mounted at ground level was used for close-up filming of the RC10 in action Engine sound effects for the electric-motor RC10 were added in post production. (Wikipedia)

4. In another memorable sequence, Eastwood and Patricia Clarkson’s characters are showered by bullets while in an elevator. To generate such impact, the battery of Uzis were in fact marbles.

5. The citizens of San Francisco were a little mixed on having another “Dirty Harry” film, and be set in their city. Some residents didn’t think the Callahan character was a good representation of the Harbor city but the majority believed having such a high-profile movie return to the area to film would be a good ad for the city and its tourist attractions.

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