Coogan’s Bluff (1968)

Cinematography Bud Thackery
Directed by Don Siegel

Coogan, an Arizona cop, is sent to New York to collect a prisoner. Everyone in New York assumes Coogan is from Texas, much to his annoyance. To add to Coogan’s problems the prisoner isn’t ready, so he decides to cut a few corners. In the process the prisoner escapes, and Coogan is ordered home. Too proud to return home empty handed, Coogan sets out into the big city to recapture his prisoner.


“Guess you didn’t hear the lady….did you boy?”

16 July 2004 | by (Nic_hse) (New York) – See all my reviews

Coogan’s Bluff ranks as one of my favorite Eastwood films. Partly because of the time period & location which the story takes place. It’s an excellent period piece. Late 1960’s New York city in all it’s Glory. I live in NYC and it’s was nice to see the Pan Am Building in the backdrop. It’s now the Met Life building. The Pan Am building was also the location of the final scene where the helicopter takes off.

The other reason I like this movie is that Eastwood is essentially playing Dirty Harry before Dirty Harry. Coogan is just like Harry Calahan without the 44. magnum. The story is solid but it’s the locales and the situations that Coogan finds himself in that sell the movie. Who cares of it’s dated? Of course it’s dated but that’s part of the experience. Actually most movies made more than 20 years ago (or less) are dated. If you look at it in the context of the time it was made then you’ll enjoy it. Ignore the negative reviews and check it out.


A smart career move for Clint

Author: jimu63 from San Marcos, CA
21 August 2002

Clint Eastwood has always been one of the most career-savvy superstars of all time. Looking over his filmography, since his career breakthrough it is obvious he has never done a film strictly for the money and has solid reasons behind every film he has made. Even his worst films have a purpose: “The Rookie,” for instance, which most people would agree is a career low, was obviously made to satisfy the brass at Warner Bros. by delivering a modern-day Dirty Harry clone so he would be left alone to work on his Academy Award-winning classic “Unforgiven,” which came out two years later. So it is with “Coogan’s Bluff,” which most viewers would probably dismiss as second-rate Eastwood, but in reality served as a savvy bridge from Westerns (the type of genre he was primarily known for at the time) into more modern day roles.


As directed by his mentor Don Siegel, “Coogan’s Bluff” actually opens in the Arizona desert, which strongly resembles the background of his spaghetti westerns. Indeed, the first character we see is a loincloth-attired man, who appears to be Indian, so the audience is tricked into thinking they’re watching a western. Then, we see a jeep driving down a dirt road, with a stetson-wearing Clint at the wheel. He is Dept. Sheriff Coogan, and there we see our first view of Clint as a modern lawman. It isn’t long before he’s in New York City, chasing down an escaped extradited criminal (Don Stroud), romancing a beautiful parole officer (Susan Clark) and butting heads with a strong-willed police captain (Lee J.Cobb, a terrific, yet sadly forgotten character actor of the day). Therefore, in a matter of fifteen minutes, Siegel cleverly introduces Eastwood as a contemporary figure, a transition that will be complete when he returns to modern times three years later in his most famous role, “Dirty Harry” Callahan.


But “Coogan’s Bluff” is an enjoyable film on its own terms. Eastwood at times is very funny here–his retort to an unethical cab driver is priceless–and the film moves along at a brisk pace. Just don’t expect action galore or a high body count. Clint doesn’t kill anybody here; there’s no broad conspiracy or mystery to solve; his job is simply to find the prisoner and take him home. In fact, the film is at its best when its dealing with Coogan as a fish-out-of-water, dealing with various New York thieves, crooks, drug dealers, hippies, and the aforementioned cab driver. There is, however, a well-choreographed fight scene in a bar and an exciting motorcycle chase for a climax, but that’s as much action as there is. It’s also pretty short for an Eastwood film: where most of his films run over two hours, this one clocks in at a brisk 94 minutes, next to “Joe Kidd” and “The Dead Pool,” one of his shortest adventures.

So there you have it, a “minor” effort that served a “major” purpose in what has become an important Hollywood career. *** (out of *****)


Before “Dirty Harry”…

Author: Brian W. Fairbanks ( from United States
18 April 1999

With less violence and the addition of a comical bent, “Coogan’s Bluff” became the inspiration for the long running TV series “McCloud” starring Dennis Weaver. For director Don Siegal, it was, like the same year’s “Madigan,” another early examination of the maverick police officer that would reach its zenith with 1971’s “Dirty Harry.” For Eastwood, it’s an interesting blend of the genre for which he was best known at the time–the western–and of the urban crime thrillers with which he would achieve superstardom. This one isn’t as exciting as “Dirty Harry,” and the fish out of water theme (ala “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”) helps to excuse some of the more unpleasant aspects of the character’s law and order at any cost mentality, but “Coogan’s Bluff” has an abundance of smart-a** humor to make it memorable. Eastwood is very effectively cast, and it is to his credit that he was willing to play such an unlikable and offensive SOB at this relatively early stage of his big-screen career. (Can you imagine Gregory Peck in this role?)


It took me by surprise!

Author: lost-in-limbo from the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
30 July 2005

Walt Coogan (Clint Eastwood) an Arizona deputy sheriff is sent to New York to collect a prisoner (Don Stroud). After learning that it might take a while before he can get his prisoner he decides to take it in own hands to bring him back, but while doing so he is jumped at the airport and the prisoner escapes. So now it’s personal and he uses his western methods to recapture his man, but the city cops don’t share his ways.

Before they teamed up for the classic cop film “Dirty Harry” (1971) – Don Siegel directed Clint Eastwood in an earlier and under-appreciated cop drama “Coogen’s Bluff”. I came across this film only knowing that it starred Eastwood and that’s about it. But to my surprise it had more to it than Eastwood’s strong persona, but it was engaging and clever entertainment by director Don Siegel.


What it generates is a violent and hard-hitting police story that has superb attention to detail and is particularly well crafted. There’s so many things going for it that you may or may not notice all the small hints that the film possesses on the clash of two different cultures (city vs. western) and the protagonist being dragged into the wicked and dirty side of the hippie drug circuit. This is when he learns that he is out of his league and that he has to adapt to this city way off life to get his man, sometimes with dire consequences because he grows slowly attached to it. Add in some psychedelic overtones and a spaced out feel to evoke the carefree era. The whole setup is naturally staged and doesn’t feel forced. Siegel seems to have a knack of creating a gritty mood, but also capturing the life of the unique surroundings, from the Arizona deserts (excellent opening sequence) to the harsh city life.


This was helped by fluid camera-work with its high shots and smooth pans that are well staged. The location photography and dashing settings are two of the strong points of this production. Another is the rousing score that mixes some western tang into the equation. Throw in edgy and sharp dialogue, with also scathing humour and an abundance of Texas gags against our protagonist. Siegel’s paces the film perfectly and generates tension in some well-designed action scenes, one being the bike chase scene through the park. Though, this film isn’t overtly filled with just action and violence. It’s an amusing watch with a set-up that has more to it! Eastwood gives an iconic cool-as-ice performance as the Texas, ah I mean Arizona deputy sheriff who adapts his hunting techniques for the big city and who’s quick with a sharp reply. Lee J. Cobb is good as the arrogant Det. Lt. McElroy, NYPD who has no time for Coogan or his antics. Susan Clark plays Julie Roth a probation officer and possibly Coogan’s love interest.


A superb Don Stroud weaselly plays James Ringerman the criminal who Coogan’s after and Tisha Sterling plays Ringerman’s hippie girlfriend. There’s also a small role by a feisty Betty Field as Mrs. Ellen Ringerman.

Actually, it’s hard to find one thing that I didn’t actually like about the film. Highly recommended!

The Arizonan in Manhattan

Author: jotix100 from New York
28 August 2009
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As the story begins, Coogan, an Arizona policeman, goes after a murderer that is wanted. The man is found on top of a rocky hill trying to shoot the cop that has come for him. Coogan, a no-nonsense laconic man, out smarts the bandit and goes back with the fugitive, but before that he makes a stop to visit a woman whose man is away from home. That sets the tone for the story, Coogan is one of those men that are secure in themselves with no attitude to speak of.


The police chief in charge of Coogan, meanwhile, wants to send him on a mission to New York. He must pick up an escaped man now living in the Big Apple. Coogan, who is still sporting his western attire, sticks out like a sore thumb among the crowds of Manhattan. One thing for sure, he takes no bull crap from anyone, including the taxi driver that thinks he is so smart by going around in circles thinking his out of town passenger will not notice the way he is jacking up the price for the ride.

What Coogan finds is a hostile police environment. Little does he know that to do things in New York, he must rethink what he is accustomed to do in Arizona. His meeting with Chief McElroy doesn’t go too well. For starters, the man he has come to get, Ringerman, has been sent to Bellevue for observation. There he finds his man in the company of a girlfriend, Linny Raven, who will prove to be more dangerous than Coogan bargained for. He also finds a kindred soul in Julie, a woman who works with tough cases within the police department. Coogan’s stay in New York will be marked by violence, but he is smart enough to deal with the situation and get what he came for.


Don Siegel, a director who worked extensively in B pictures, is in charge of this production. Mr. Siegel, was an astute artist who always delivered, as he does with this 1968 film. He captures the essence of that generation like no one. Mr. Siegel was a master in these types of movies, as he clearly shows here.

Clint Eastwood shows the making of the persona that he will later transfer to most of his work that followed. His Coogan was a man of a few words who believed in getting a job done, as quickly, and as neatly, as possible. His take on this character is what he did best. Lee J. Cobb, one of the great actors of stage, and screen, is at hand to portray Lt. McElroy, a man who knows how things worked in his territory. Also in minor roles, Susan Clark, the great Betty Field who appears as Ringerman’s mother in one of the best sequences of the film. Tisha Sterling, Don Stroud and a young Seymour Cassel have some interesting moments.


Lalo Schiffrin jazzy musical score worked well with the film as did the fine cinematography of Bud Thackery that photographed the Manhattan of those years with excellent flair. Don Siegel did a good job with his direction and made a film that is fun and packs some action as well.

 film highly recommended, essential for the followers of Eastwood.

Author: psagray from Spain
8 February 2010

At New York reaches “Walt Coogan” (Clint Eastwood), a sheriff of Arizona who pursues a dangerous murderer who has escaped his jurisdiction. “Coogan” used to using methods of his own a cowboy not of a policeman, collides with the methods used by agents of the big city. We are facing a urban western.


This film marks a turning point in the race of Clint Eastwood to put in contact, for the first time, with Don Siegel, Here Eastwood starts to perform his figure of gallant, interpreting perfectly the role of seductive whenever the occasion required to achieve his ends other than the kind of character that starred in films of Sergio Leone.

It is one of the most important moments in the life of a giant of cinema, Clint Eastwood. The meeting between the Eastwood and Don Siegel mark a before and after the artistic career of Clint Eastwood, both as an actor as in his subsequent race director. They shared a large amount of hobbies and passions. Among them their love for the film from director Sergio Leone, which Siegel had enjoyed through the screen and Eastwood had starred with great success. Perhaps that is why the film is a work of transition It has a delicious soundtrack for the maestro Lalo Schifrin that help at any time the narrative rhythm of the tape. We should also emphasize the good work as secondary to Lee J. Cobb giving life to the serious and quiet “lieutenant McElroy”, and Susan Clark. It is not the best film of the five that both agreed but if served to the beginning of a great time to develop during the 1970 with “Harry the dirty” as a success and with the police cinema in the height of its history.


Groovy baby!

Author: MartynGryphon from Coventry, England
25 April 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Coogans Bluff, though widely forgotten when compared to the ‘dollars’ trilogy or the Dirty Harry movies, is one of Clint Eastwoods best projects and boasts what I feel is his best on-screen performance.

Arizona Deputy Sheriff Coogan is dispatched to New York to extradite a New York Junkie to face trial for his Crimes in the West. As soon as he touches down atop of the Pan-Am building, he realises the alien environment he finds himself in and in stark contrast to the bleak and desolate Arizona desert in which we first meet him. Coogan on the other hand is just as alien to the native New Yorkers he encounters. He arrives at the district Police Station to pick up his fugitive and take him home, but His task is not as cut and dried as he had hoped when he meets bad tempered but good natured veteran Cop McElroy (Lee J Cobb) who tells Coogan that his prisoner James Ringerman (played menacingly by Don Stroud), has already taken a ‘trip’ of a different nature and is in the Prison Ward at Belview Hospital.


Coogan’s set back means that he has to stay in New York longer than he had planned (or hoped). but compensation takes the form of parole officer Julie Roth (Susan Clark). After Wining & Dining her, goes back to her place. His intended night of passion never gets off the ground as she is interrupted by a business call.

After his first night in New York, Coogan is determined that it is to be his last and ‘Bluffs’ his way in to the Prison Ward at Belview in the hopes of engineering Ringerman’s release into his custody. he not only encounters Ringerman but also his spaced out girlfriend Linny Raven. His impulsive ruse pays off, and he and his prisoner head off to the Pan-Am building and their awaiting Arizona bound flight. However, Raven has arranged a welcoming party for Coogan and after the ‘oldest trick in the book’ type of ambush, Coogan is lying unconscious on the airport floor, and Ringerman is once again at large.


Ringerman now has the upper hand, knowing that Coogan’s desert tracking skills are useless in the Concrete Jungle of 1968 New York but undeterred, Coogan sets about making his enquiries despite a stern warning not to interfere by McElroy. He is arrested for impersonating a police officer and McElroy takes the liberty of arranging Coogan’s prompt and immediate return to Arizona. Coogan’s plans remain unchanged and he will not leave New York alone. He resumes his relationship with Roth, and while she’s out of the room takes a snoop at her parole files and finds the parole record of Raven. His nosiness reaps rewards, and his leg-work takes him to the physcodelic Pigeon Toed Orange Peel Club, where he once again encounters Raven.


He ruthlessly seduces her in the hopes that his lovemaking will make her betray Ringermans whereabouts, but Raven is as manipulative as she is beautiful and she leads Coogan to a pool hall and yet another ambush. This time Coogan gives his attackers as good as he gets, yet still manages to get the ass whippin’ of a lifetime. He escapes the pool hall just in time before McElroy and his squad break down the door. Coogan returns to Raven’s Apartment only this time he persuades her by using ‘less romantic’ methods.

Fearing for her life, she finally leads Coogan straight to Ringerman and the final confrontation.

Eastwood’s performance as the fish out of water cop is magnificent and is a great bridge between Clint the cowboy and Clint the modern day action hero as it is essentially an amalgamation of the two. The script calls for Clint to be ruthless, violent and menacing as all his previous roles had, but this movie showed a different side to Eastwood, hitherto unseen since his rise to stardom half a decade before.

Coogan's Bluff (1968)

Coogans Bluff required Eastwood to be Romantic, and charming and witty, in fact the character of Coogan is blessed with a wry almost dead-pan dark sense of humour displayed in some of his classic one liners.

Taxi Driver: that’ll be $2.95 including the luggage. Coogan: Here’s 3 dollars including the tip.

or reprising this encounter with a hotel owner.

Hotel Owner: That’ll be £7 Coogan: The sign says 5 Hotel Owner: 7 without luggage (Coogan shows his briefcase) That ain’t luggage. Coogan: There’s a cab drive in this town that’ll give you an argument.


Siegel’s Direction is as always impeccable and the fight at Pushy’s Pool Hall, is one of the best choreographed action sequences ever put to film.

Eastwood is also seen performing (some) of his own stunts as is evident during the motorcycle chase when you see his face in close-up. Lalo Schifrin, (a very busy man in 1968), gives us one of his best scores and his ‘pidgeon toed orange peel’ song epitomised the period perfectly.

This film also gives us a good look at New York and to use a Clint Cliché, shows us the good, the bad and the darn right ugly of what the Big Apple has (or in many cases did) have to offer. and shows us New York when it was an evolving city, when the 50’s and Early 60’s style of Car design, clothing fashions and moral attitudes were slowly being replaced by their more basic and simple counterparts of the 70’s.

10 out of 10 if not for Clint’s witty dialogue alone.


Dedication beyond belief

Author: NickD39 from Wisconsin
15 October 2001
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Caught this movie on cable the other night, was a bit tired, but let’s see if I got this right. James Ringerman committed some kind of crime in Arizona where Coogan (Clint Eastwood) was a deputy sheriff, James gets caught in New York City and Coogan’s boss after a good chewing out sends Coogan to bring him back. Well Coogan fouls things up and looses James. Coogan gets a telegram from his boss back in Arizona taking him off the case and a hardened cop, a Detective Lieutenant McElroy played by Lee J. Cobb swears if Coogan even attempts to go after James he will toss Coogan in jail.

Coogan is suppose to be on a flight back to Arizona, but has met Julie Roth (Susan Clark), a probation officer that added great beauty to this film, and has a love interest. Julie is making spaghetti for supper that will give them three hours to do whatever while the sauce simmers.


Coogan instead stands her up to go after James after getting some information from her filing cabinets, such dedication, and how can anyone leave Susan Clark? Incredible?

Things I learned from this movie are Fort Tyron’s Park is a very beautiful place to visit and not a soul in sight, Arizonians, not just Texans wear cowboy hats, if you ever escort a prisoner, offer him a cigarette, and if you stand Susan Clark up, she will still come to the top of the PanAM building and wave goodbye. Things I wondered about are is it okay of an out of jurisdiction cop to steal a motorcycle, is it okay to rod a bike in the park, how did McElroy know where to find Coogan and at the exact correct instant, and is it considered normal therapy to touch Susan Clark’s breast if you are a parolee? Maybe I should catch this film again to see exactly what James did, an unpaid parking ticket?


Cool it cowboy there’s plenty here for both of us

Author: sol from Brooklyn NY USA
29 May 2010

***SPOILERS*** After running down escaped from the reservation, for murdering his wife, convict Running Bear, Rudy Diaz, and then having a romp in the bathtub with his girlfriend the buxom Millie, Melodie Johnson, Shefiff’s Detuty Coogen, Clint Eastwood, gets the bad news from his boss Sheriff McCrea, Tom Tully, that he’s to travel to the Big Apple-New York City-to pick up and bring back to Arizona fugitive drug dealer Jim “Jimbo” Ringerman, Don Stroud,to stand trial in Phoenix for jumping bail and dealing drugs. And that all happens before the real action in the movie starts!


When Coogen arrives in NYC to pick up and expiated Ringerman back to Arizona he’s told by the two three, or 23rd, police precincts though talking Let McElroy, Lee J. Cobb, that “Jimbo” is unavailable and in Beleuve Hospital suffering from withdrawals from a bad LSD trip. Having to wait for Ringerman to be realest into his custody Coogen soon gets to know pretty police psychiatrist Julie, Susan Clark, who’s just crazy about his straight forward attitude, in telling it like it is, as well as Coogen’s cowboy boots and hat. It’s when Coogen got a bit restless in waiting for Jimbo Ringerman to be released from Beleuve that he made a very serious mistake. Coogen tried to illegally check Ringerman out, on a bluff attempt, without proper papers. That lead Coogen to get clobbered and his gun taken away from him by Ringermen’s New York fiends lead by the pot smoking hippie Linny Raven, Tislda Sterling.


Now in trouble from all sides from his boss Sheriff McCrea back in Arizona and the NYPD in New York City Coogen is determined to track down, cowboy style, and bring to justice Ringerman even if he has to tear down the entire city of New York to do it! Checking out Ringerman’s old stomping grounds in the East Village Coogen finds Raven who instead of leading him to her boyfriend, and drug supplier, Jimbo Ringerman lead him straight into an ambush at a pool-hall where Jimbo’s friends are waiting for him and ready to use Coogen’s head as batting practice for their cue sticks. Realizing that he’s been set up by Raven Coogen, after dispatching Ringermen’s hoods, takes off for her in the village and persuades Raven, by threatening to punch her pretty face in, to lead him to her boyfriend Jimbo who’s hiding out somewhere in upper Manhattan.


***SPOILERS*** It’s when Ringerman sees that the jig is up and he’s about to be arrested by a hot and angry Coogen is when the long awaited action starts in the movie: A series of exciting chase scenes, on foot and on motorcycles, Ringerman getting caught and punched out by Coogen and finally, in him having no authority as a law enforcer in NYC, Coogen performing his civic duty by turning over to the NYPD a battered and barley conscious Ringerman via a citizens arrest! In the end Coogen not only got to get his man, Jimbo Ringerman, but also see the breathtaking sights of the Big Apple as well which included fresh faced blue eyed and sexy police psychiatrist Julie, no last name given in the film credits, who just couldn’t let go of the big guy no matter how shabbily he, by checking out of her apartment after she slaved for over three hours cooking him her famous spaghetti dinner, treated her!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s