The Dead Pool is a 1988 American film and is the fifth and final film in the Dirty Harry series, set in San Francisco, California and starring Clint Eastwood as Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan. It co-stars Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey, and Patricia Clarkson, each of whom went on to greater film fame.

This was Jim Carrey's first non-comedy film.


Fame finally catches up with Harry Callahan. His testimony against crime kingpin Lou Janero puts the mobster in prison and Callahan ends up on the cover of a San Francisco magazine as the city's ace crime fighter. Callahan is attacked by Janero's men at a turnoff near the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge while driving. He knocks down one with his car and shoots the remaining men dead. Callahan and his new Asian-American, martial arts-skilled partner Al Quan are then assigned to investigate the death of rock singer Johnny Squares.

After slasher film director Peter Swan's producer is killed in a Chinatown restaurant robbery which Callahan foils, Harry discovers that he, together with Johnny Squares, has become part of a "dead pool" game in which participants try to predict celebrity deaths, either by natural causes or for those who work in dangerous professions. In a turn of events, two celebrities from Swan's list are killed.

Callahan is asked to co-operate with the media (particularly reporter and later love interest Samantha Walker) to balance their interference with the investigation. Walker proposes to do an in-depth profile on Callahan for her news report, while he wants to simply perform his job and stay out of the limelight. After dinner, they narrowly escape being killed by Janero's men, leading the reporter to reconsider the plight of police officers versus the public's right to know.

Callahan drives to the prison where Janero is serving his sentence. He promises a huge, chain-smoking inmate named Butcher Hicks a carton of cigarettes for his help in convincing Janero that if anything bad happens to Callahan, the vicious Butcher will pay Janero a visit. This results in Janero telling his men to stay away from Callahan while he is on duty.

Callahan resolves a situation where a man named Gus Wheeler, rumored to be responsible for the murders, tries to get on the TV news. In the end, it turns out that the real killer is a deranged fan of Swan. He is Harlan Rook, who thinks his ideas and work have been stolen by Swan.

Rook next kills another person on the list, this time innovatively using a radio control car and running it under the vehicle the victim gets into and detonating it. The method used is undetected by Callahan at the crime scene, although he does find a wheel of the radio control car, but thinks nothing of it until later when he spots Rook attempting to eliminate him in the same way. Callahan and Quan are pursued in their unmarked car through San Francisco's hilly streets by another radio control car, that is rigged with a bomb built by Rook. Eventually Callahan and Al Quan come to a dead end and the bomb explodes, nearly killing Quan, who survives thanks to his bulletproof vest and the fact that Callahan reversed away a split second before the bomb exploded.

Rook, disguised as Swan, calls Walker at the television station and invites her to Swan's film studio for an interview, which is actually a trap. Police raid Rook's home, where torn posters of Swan's films are found and large quantities of explosives.

Callahan hurries to Swan's studio, where Walker is held captive by Rook. Harry reluctantly surrenders his .44 Magnum revolver after Rook nearly slits her throat. Callahan lures him to a pier after a chase. Rook, who has run out of bullets, is shot by Callahan with a harpoon, killing him instantly. Callahan leaves with Walker while the police arrive at the scene.


  • Clint Eastwood as Inspector Harry Callahan
  • Patricia Clarkson as Samantha Walker
  • Evan C. Kim as Inspector Al Quan
  • Liam Neeson as Peter Swan
  • |David Hunt as Harlan Rook

Michael Currie as Captain Donnelly

  • Jim Carrey as Johnny Squares (credited as James Carrey)
  • Nicholas Love as Jeff Howser
  • Glenn Wright as Detective Hindmark
  • Shawn Elliott as Chester Docksteder
  • Ronnie Claire Edwards as Molly Fisher
  • Louis Giambalvo as Gus Wheeler
  • George Orrison as Embarcadero Bodyguard #1
  • Marc Alaimo as Embarcadero Bodyguard #2
  • Justin Whalin as Jason

The Dead Pool is the only Dirty Harry film in which Albert Popwell does not appear. The 1980s rock band Guns N' Roses makes a cameo appearance at the funeral of Johnny Squares, and one scene where Slash is shown firing the harpoon Harry will use at the end of the film.[1] In the Chinatown robbery scene, the late Eric Douglas appears as the blond robber.


Eastwood reacted to starring in another Dirty Harry film, "It's fun, once in a while, to have a character you can go back to. It's like revisiting a an old friend you haven't seen for a long time. You figure "I'll go back and see how he feels about things now.""[2] The Dead Pool was filmed between February and March 1988 in San Francisco.[3]

Car chase

Callahan is pursued through San Francisco's hilly streets in his unmarked Oldsmobile 98 squad car by a remote-controlled bomb assembled by Rook, disguised as a radio-controlled car. The "bomb" was in fact a highly modified Associated RC10 competition buggy topped with an off-the-shelf 1963 Chevrolet Corvette body from hobby accessory manufacturer Parma International. It was driven by world-champion radio control driver "Jammin'" Jay Halsey and was electrically powered. The sound effects of the "engine" were added in post production. This chase scene has many similarities to, and in fact may be considered a parody of, the famous chase in the Steve McQueen film Bullitt.[3] Eastwood has said that the chase was his favorite part of the film.

Box office performance

The Dead Pool was released in United States theaters in July 1988.[4] In its opening weekend, the film took $9,071,330 in 1,988 theaters in the US, at an average of $4,954.[5] In total in the US, the film made $37,903,295, making it the fourth most profitable of the five films in the Dirty Harry franchise.[4][6]


The song Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N' Roses appears as the theme song for Swan's movie. All members of the band, including Axl Rose, Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler have credited cameos in the film, including at the funeral of Johnny Squares.


Eastwood has publicly announced that he has no interest in acting in another Dirty Harry film. In the late 2000s he jokingly spoke about potential sequels: "Dirty Harry VI! Harry is retired. He's standing in a stream, fly-fishing. He gets tired of using the pole— and BA-BOOM! Or Harry is retired, and he catches bad guys with his walker?"[7]

See also


  1. Flashback Five - The Best Dirty Harry Movies. American Movie Classics. Retrieved on September 10, 2010.
  2. Munn, p. 218
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hughes, p.76
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hughes, p.77
  5. The Dead Pool. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2009-03-01.
  6. Dirty Harry Movies. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2009-03-01.
  7. Eliot (2009), p.331


  • Eliot, Marc (2009). American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. Harmony Books. ISBN 978-0-307-33688-0. 
  • Hughes, Howard (2009). Aim for the Heart. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 9781845119027. 
  • Munn, Michael (1992). Clint Eastwood: Hollywood's Loner. London: Robson Books. ISBN 086051790x. 

External links