Quadruple Oscar winner Clint Eastwood stars alongside Susan Clark, Don Stroud, Tisha Sterling, Betty Field, and Lee J. Cobb in Coogan’s Bluff, an action-packed thriller that marked the first of five collaborations between the star and director Don Siegel which included Dirty Harry and Escape from Alcatraz.
Walter Coogan (Eastwood), a soft-spoken, straightforward Arizona lawman, is sent to New York City to extradite a captured murderer (Dan Stroud). After accidentally letting the prisoner escape, Coogan gets caught up in a life-or-death manhunt throughout the mean streets of the city. Coogan’s unconventional law enforcement techniques don’t go over too well with frustrated NYC Police Lieutenant McElroy (Lee J. Cobb), who can’t decide which is worse…the prisoner, or the lawman!
Don on Clint: “Hardest thing in the world is to do nothing and he does it marvellously.”
Coogan’s Bluff served as a transitional film for Eastwood bridging the gap from Westerns (for which he was primarily known for at the time thanks to director Sergio Leone) into more modern day roles.
Born in Chicago but educated at Cambridge University, Don Siegel’s influence on Clint Eastwood was huge. As well as establishing Eastwood as an iconic actor, Siegel’s directing style greatly influenced Eastwood when he became a director himself. Eastwood’s first taste of directing was during Dirty Harry when Siegel fell ill and Eastwood stepped in as an uncredited director. Their roles were reversed in Eastwood’s directorial debut Play Misty For Me in which Siegel had a small acting part. Eastwood influenced Siegel by introducing him to his secretary Carol Rydall, who became Siegel’s third wife.
Siegel was the first director to be credited by the Director’s Guild of America’s universal pseudonym Alan Smithee, for Death of a Gunfighter (1969). Siegel wished to remain uncredited because he felt the film’s star, Richard Widmark, ruined the picture by insisting on creative control that usurped Siegel’s authority as director. Among the dozens of projects credited to Alan Smithee over the years include the MacGyver TV pilot, the video for I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston, and Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh.
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