Magnum Force (1973)

R | 121-122 or 124 mins | Drama | December 1973

Director:

Ted Post

Producer:

Robert Daley

Cinematographer:

Frank Stanley

Editor:

Ferris Webster

Production Designer:

Jack T. Collis

Production Company:

The Malpaso Company
Full page view
HISTORY

According to a 21 Apr 1972 HR news item, the film was initially known as Vigilance . The onscreen credit for Harry Julian Fink and R. M. Fink, who created the character of "Dirty Harry" for the 1971 release of the same name (see above), reads "Based on original material by." The opening credits are shown against a hand holding a .44 magnum, the signature weapon of lead character "Harry Calahan." Following Ted Post's "directed by" credit, the gun is cocked and rotated to face the audience. Clint Eastwood's voice then recites a variation of his well-known line from Dirty Harry : "This a .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and it could blow your head clean off—do you feel lucky?" When he finishes the line, the gun is fired. In the end credits, Harry's surname is spelled "Calahan," although many sources list the name as "Callahan."
       Magnum Force was shot entirely on location in and around San Francisco, with many of the city's well-known landmarks, including City Hall and Lombard Street, appearing within the story. Several scenes were shot in an area just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the final dock sequence was filmed on Pier 54. According to a 4 May 1973 HR news item, the film marked the first time that a new Panaflex camera, which had been in development for more than four years and tested for the previous year, was used as the primary camera for a feature film. The HR item added that "the blimp free Panaflex, weighing 25 pounds" ... More Less

According to a 21 Apr 1972 HR news item, the film was initially known as Vigilance . The onscreen credit for Harry Julian Fink and R. M. Fink, who created the character of "Dirty Harry" for the 1971 release of the same name (see above), reads "Based on original material by." The opening credits are shown against a hand holding a .44 magnum, the signature weapon of lead character "Harry Calahan." Following Ted Post's "directed by" credit, the gun is cocked and rotated to face the audience. Clint Eastwood's voice then recites a variation of his well-known line from Dirty Harry : "This a .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and it could blow your head clean off—do you feel lucky?" When he finishes the line, the gun is fired. In the end credits, Harry's surname is spelled "Calahan," although many sources list the name as "Callahan."
       Magnum Force was shot entirely on location in and around San Francisco, with many of the city's well-known landmarks, including City Hall and Lombard Street, appearing within the story. Several scenes were shot in an area just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the final dock sequence was filmed on Pier 54. According to a 4 May 1973 HR news item, the film marked the first time that a new Panaflex camera, which had been in development for more than four years and tested for the previous year, was used as the primary camera for a feature film. The HR item added that "the blimp free Panaflex, weighing 25 pounds" could be "converted from hand held to full studio mode in less than 60 seconds."
       Actor Robert Urich (1946--2002) made his motion picture debut in Magnum Force , as did Oakland Raiders football player turned actor Carl Weathers (1948--), who had a bit role as a demonstrator. Albert Popwell, who portrayed the "Pimp," had appeared in Dirty Harry , but as a different character, the downed robber to whom Harry delivers the "do you feel lucky?" line. Popwell appeared in two additional "Dirty Harry" films, The Enforcer (1976) and Sudden Impact (1983), playing different characters in each. John Mitchum revived the role of policeman "Frank DiGiorgio" [spelled DeGeorgio in Dirty Harry ] in Magnum Force and repeated the role in The Enforcer . Many of the reporters in the film were portrayed by real life San Francisco-based reporters and television news personalities, among them Art Brown and Marcia Brandwynne. Modern sources add Paul D'Amato to the cast.
       According to a DV news item on 28 Aug 1974, writer Ronald Sheridan sued Warner Bros., writer John Milius and others charging that a script entitled "Final Solution," which he claimed to have submitted to Warner Bros. in 1972, was "wrongfully appropriated." The disposition of that suit has not been determined. A DV news item on 30 Nov 1976 reported that actor Russ Moro was awarded $17,000 on the basis of a suit against Warner Bros. and The Malpaso Company charging that his ears were still ringing due to his proximity to a gun shot during the filming of Magnum Force . Moro portrayed "Ricca's driver," a character shot at close range early in the picture.
       Magnun Force was the second film in the "Dirty Harry" series and the only one to be directed by Post. Despite critically mixed reviews, Magnum Force became the fourth highest grossing film of 1974, bringing over $18,300,000 at the box office, surpassing Dirty Harry by over $2,000,000. For additional information on that film, and other films in the series, please consult the entry above.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Dec 1973
p. 4650.
Daily Variety
27 Apr 1973.
---
Daily Variety
28 Aug 1974.
---
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 1973
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1973
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Dec 1973
Section IV, p. 29.
New York Times
26 Dec 1973
p. 60.
New Yorker
14 Jan 1974.
---
Newsweek
7 Jan 1974.
---
Time
11 Feb 1974.
---
Variety
12 Dec 1973
p. 18.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Reporters:
Demonstrators:
Stewardesses:
Black dudes:
Voices:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
2d unit dir
Spec action seq [dir]
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst dir trainee
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
2d grip
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
Prop asst
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Ward man
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles & optical eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Secy to the prod
Asst to the prod [Loc mgr]
Prod services and equipment provided by
Dial supv
Scr supv
Casting dir
Unit pub
Prod secy
Loc auditor
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
First aid
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters created by Harry Julian Fink and R. M. Fink.
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Title:
Vigilance
Release Date:
December 1973
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles opening: 25 December 1973
Production Date:
24 April--late June 1973 in San Francisco
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Inc.
Copyright Date:
13 December 1973
Copyright Number:
LP43790
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
121-122 or 124
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23264
SYNOPSIS

Outside a San Francisco courtroom, gang leader Ricca and his attorney make their way past clamoring reporters after Ricca is acquitted of the notorious Scarza family murders. They quickly escape into a waiting limousine as an angry mob of spectators scream epithets that the courts, once again, have allowed a murderer to go free. Minutes later, a motorcycle policeman waves the limousine off the freeway into a deserted area, informing the driver of a minor traffic infraction. The policeman then opens fire, killing everyone inside the limousine. When Det. Harry Calahan and his partner, Early Smith, arrive on the scene later, there are swarms of police, including Harry's superior officer, Lt. Briggs. Briggs, who has put Harry on nighttime stakeout as punishment for his frequent violations of suspects' rights, is angry to see Harry and orders him to away. That afternoon, while Harry and Early are eating at a hamburger stand near the San Francisco Airport, Harry interjects himself into an airplane hostage situation and diffuses it before other officers arrive, further infuriating Briggs. That night, Harry becomes concerned after he runs into motorcycle policeman Charlie McCoy, an old friend who is noticeably upset by his recent separation and complains that he can never retire. Later, on the police firing range, Harry is impressed with the shooting acumen of four rookie policemen, John Davis, Phil Sweet, Red Astrachan and Mike Grimes, who use .357 magnum handguns and speak reverentially to Harry. One afternoon, a motorcycle policeman drives into the hills north of the Golden Gate Bridge, stakes out a place above a house in which a raucous pool party is in ... +


Outside a San Francisco courtroom, gang leader Ricca and his attorney make their way past clamoring reporters after Ricca is acquitted of the notorious Scarza family murders. They quickly escape into a waiting limousine as an angry mob of spectators scream epithets that the courts, once again, have allowed a murderer to go free. Minutes later, a motorcycle policeman waves the limousine off the freeway into a deserted area, informing the driver of a minor traffic infraction. The policeman then opens fire, killing everyone inside the limousine. When Det. Harry Calahan and his partner, Early Smith, arrive on the scene later, there are swarms of police, including Harry's superior officer, Lt. Briggs. Briggs, who has put Harry on nighttime stakeout as punishment for his frequent violations of suspects' rights, is angry to see Harry and orders him to away. That afternoon, while Harry and Early are eating at a hamburger stand near the San Francisco Airport, Harry interjects himself into an airplane hostage situation and diffuses it before other officers arrive, further infuriating Briggs. That night, Harry becomes concerned after he runs into motorcycle policeman Charlie McCoy, an old friend who is noticeably upset by his recent separation and complains that he can never retire. Later, on the police firing range, Harry is impressed with the shooting acumen of four rookie policemen, John Davis, Phil Sweet, Red Astrachan and Mike Grimes, who use .357 magnum handguns and speak reverentially to Harry. One afternoon, a motorcycle policeman drives into the hills north of the Golden Gate Bridge, stakes out a place above a house in which a raucous pool party is in progress, then throws a smoke bomb and immediately sprays the area with bullets, killing a dozen people. That night, while Harry is visiting Charlie's wife Carol, she relates that an emotionally overwrought Charlie recently had played Russian roulette in front of their children and should not be carrying a weapon. Back at police headquarters after stopping a violent robbery, Harry and Early pass the four rookies in the parking lot, prompting Early to joke that, at the police academy, the four stuck together "like fly paper." Later, when a prostitute takes a taxi home from a convention hotel, her pimp jumps into the back seat and starts to brutalize her for holding money back from him. After the terrified driver runs away, the pimp continues to beat the prostitute, then kills her by forcibly pouring drain cleaner down her throat. Some time later, as the pimp drives north off the Golden Gate Bridge, a motorcycle policeman follows him onto a deserted highway. The suspicious pimp hides a gun between his knees, but when the motorcycle policeman stops the pimp for speeding, he smugly hands over his wallet with a $100 bill showing. The policeman then opens fire and kills the pimp. That night, Harry is summoned by Briggs, who reveals his suspicion that a vigilante is "trying to put the courts out of business” by killing known criminals and mentions that Sweet was the first officer on the scene. The next day, when Harry and Early learn that the pimp was killed by a bullet from a .357 magnum, Early suggests that it sounds like a cop's gun. When they also learn that the pimp never fired his own gun and left his wallet opened with a $100 bill, Harry speculates that the killer is impersonating a policeman. Briggs believes that the leading suspect is a former gangland hit man named Frank Palancio, who may be avenging the Scarza murders. Although Harry is certain that Briggs is wrong, he agrees to follow Palancio, then baits him on the same section of highway where the pimp was killed. When Palancio merely reacts as if Harry is crazy, then lodges an official complaint, Harry is convinced that the killer is not Palancio. Some time later, as Inspector Frank DiGiorgio and his partner are staking out the high rise apartment of mobster Guzman, they observe Charlie being involved in a minor traffic accident on the street below. Minutes later, a uniform policeman sneaks into Guzman’s apartment and, using a silencer on his gun, quickly kills Guzman, his guard and a couple with whom Guzman has been having a ménage à trois. The woman, who is shot by an open window, falls, attracting the attention of DiGiorgio and his partner, who rush across the street. Before they arrive, Charlie enters the building’s garage and sees Davis, who kills him, then, when DiGiorgio and his partner appear, Davis pretends that he had just happened by. At police headquarters, meanwhile, Harry tells Briggs he thinks Charlie is the killer, and is shocked to learn that Charlie is dead. Days later, at a police marksmanship competition, Harry privately asks DiGiorgio about the Guzman crime scene, and DiGiorgio says that he does not know how Davis could have arrived so quickly. That night, on the deserted range, Harry, who deliberately lost the competition by one shot, digs a bullet from Davis’ gun out of a building, a bullet that Harry deliberately had aimed when borrowing Davis’ gun for a friendly test. A few days later, Harry is disappointed to learn that, although the .357 magnum bullet has markings similar to the bullet that killed the pimp, they were not fired from the same weapon. Now hoping to implicate Palancio in the crimes, Briggs decides to raid Palancio's dockside warehouse and enlists Harry to be the front man. Briggs reluctantly grants Harry’s request to allow Davis and Sweet to be in on the raid. Before they arrive, Palancio receives an anonymous call that they will be killed by hit men dressed as police. When Harry’s unmarked car approaches, Palancio is convinced that the tip is correct, so when Sweet knocks on the door, even though he is in his police uniform, Palancio and his men assume the worst and shoot through the door, killing Sweet. As marked police cars begin to arrive, Palancio refuses to surrender, prompting Davis to burst in and shoot two of the men. Although he tries to escape in his car, Palancio, too is killed. While Harry, who is slightly injured, is being treated by the police doctor, Briggs accuses him of causing Sweet’s death. Harry tries to convince Briggs that Palancio had been tipped off that they were coming, but he refuses to believe it, then angrily demands the bullet that he has heard Harry tested. Harry complies, but, unknown to Briggs, gives him a different bullet. Later, when talking with Early, Harry reveals that the bullet from Davis’ gun matches one from one of the crime scenes. He also tells Early that the other three rookies sacrificed Sweet and warns him to be careful because there may be a secret organization acting inside the police department. At the underground garage in his apartment building, Harry is confronted by Davis, Astrachan and Grimes, who give him the opportunity to join them. Saying that they have misjudged him, he walks away, then goes to the lobby to retrieve his mail. Seeing wires inside his mailbox, Harry goes upstairs to check his apartment, then, remembering that his downstairs neighbor had offered to bring up his mail, Harry races downstairs, pushes her aside and is able to defuse the bomb. He then runs back to his apartment to warn Early not to open his mailbox but Early, who is just approaching his apartment, does not answer the call and is killed when he opens his own mailbox. Not knowing that it is too late, Harry calls Briggs to ask him to have someone rush to Early’s place. Briggs then tells Harry to wait where he is. After arriving at Harry’s apartment, he asks Harry to drive back to City Hall while he looks at the diffused bomb. Then, without warning, Briggs tells him to drive in a different direction and Harry realizes that Briggs has been part of the vigilantes. Despite being held at gunpoint, Harry manages to eject Briggs from the car, then doubles back and crushes Grimes, who had been following on his motorcycle. Harry then drives to Pier 54, where he boards a deserted ship, closely followed by Davis and Astrachan, who ride their motorcycles inside the hull. After Harry shoots and kills Astrachan, Harry boards his motorcycle and evades Davis in a high speed chase that ends when Davis is killed after his motorcycle careens off the dock. Harry then gets into Briggs’s car, where an injured Briggs has been waiting for him. Wielding his gun, Briggs forces Harry out of the car and drives off, unaware that Harry had re-activated the bomb and left it on the seat. After the car explodes, Harry muses that “man’s got to know his limitations” and walks away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.