An alternative journey through SAN FRANCISCO seen from the perspective of DIRTY HARRY filming locations

Kezar Stadium

755 Stanyan Street (between Waller St & Beulah St), San Francisco, CA 94117, USA

SCENE SYNOPSIS:

The scene at Kezar Stadium is where we see Callahan’s determination to ensure Scorpio is “taken out”. It shows Callahan’s propensity to resort to violence “for the greater good”. Depictions of torture in this scene shocked liberal film critics at the time who claimed the film romanticized police brutality. Some went as far to label the film “fascist”.

Following the tip-off from the doctor at Park Emergency Hospital, Callahan and Fatso head to Kezar Stadium. Callahan breaks into Scorpio’s living quaters (without a warrant) and chases the nut-job through the empty stands. Scorpio is forced to cut across the football field, at which point Fatso switches on the stadium lights. Now a sitting duck in the centre of an illuminated field Scorpio stops and clearly rasies his hands in surrender.

Having received the full force of Scorpio’s Corcoran paratrooper boots only hours earlier, Callahan is in vengeful mood. He cares little about the killer’s rights and shoots Scorpio down from distance. He’s not dead – he takes the slug in the leg. Scorpio begs the approaching Callahan not to inflict further damage: “Please no more! Can’t you see I’m hurt. Get me the doctor!”

Callahan ignores Scorpio’s appeals. To him this as a legitimate opportunity to extract – through torture – information on the whereabouts of the kidnapped girl (who, unbeknown to Callahan, is already dead). With the .44 Magnum aimed at Scorpio’s head, Callahan steps down hard on the killer’s leg wound: “The girl, where is she?” he repeats over and over.

Thus we are treated to a scene of disturbing comedy as Scorpio, no longer the assassin, begs for mercy. The camera then tracks slowly upwards showing Callahan and his victim in a vast, darkened stadium with Scorpio’s screams fading out like an eerie melody.

Scene-shot (01:07:11): In the final shot of the Kezar Stadium sequence the camera, fitted to a helicopter, tracks upwards as Callahan is seen "extracting information" from Scorpio regarding the whereabouts of the kidnapped girl. It's a sinister scene with Scorpio's screams and eerie music interlocking in a haunting melody that slowly fades out as the camera reaches into the sky.

STATE OF PLAY TODAY:

Originally built in 1925, Kezar Stadium served intermittently as the home to the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders until 1971. Following irreparable damage caused by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the 60,000-seater concrete bowl we see in the film was demolished and replaced by the much smaller structure.

The stadium we see today has a capacity just under 10,000 and is used mainly by a college football and lower-league soccer teams. It is generally open to the public as an all-purpose running track/sports field.

Although rebuilt on the same location and retaining the original track and field configurations, very little of the former stadium has survived. On the west side a replica of the original “Kezar Stadium” arch has been reconstructed. Possibly some of the original terracing on the north and south sides has also been retained.

Interestingly, on the stadium’s east side there is a tunnel leading to an underground corridor. Its entrance is flanked on either side by sloping concrete walls and metal railings. Pre-1989 aerial photos of the stadium seem to confirm a tunnel existed in this exact location. Approaching tunnel from the track, there is a storeroom on the right side just past the fenced-off entrance.

The location of this storeroom and its proximity to the tunnel opening makes it a candidate for the “Groundskeeper’s (Scorpio’s) Room” that Callahan breaks into in the film (scene-shot 01:03:53). During the scene Callahan approaches from the opposite direction (from inside the tunnel) and you can clearly see the sloping walls and railings heading out towards the pitch.

Scene-shot (01:03:14): Scorpio spooked! The nut-job observing Callahan entering the stadium. The hunter has now become the hunted.

Scene-shot (01:03:53): Callahan finds the "Groundskeeper's" room where he suspects Scorpio might live. Note that the doors are on the left of a sloping wall that continues towards the opening of the field.

Scene-shot (01:05:35): After a chase through the stadium's tunnels, Callahan forces Scorpio onto the terracing. With Callahan hot in pursuit, here we see Scorpio grimmace in pain (from the knife wound inflicted at Mt. Davidson Park) as he hobbles at speed down the seating aisle towards the field.

Scene-shot (01:06:08): The game's up! After being forced onto the centre of the field Fatso switches on the floodlights. Now a sitting duck, Scorpio realises he cannot escape Callahan and his .44 Magnum so decides to surrender. His arms are clearly raised in capitulation.

Scene-shot (01:06:10): Armed with his trademark .44 Magnum, an increasingly angry Callahan cares little for the killer's rights. Despite Scorpio's willingness to surrender Callahan pulls the trigger anyway.

Scene-shot (01:06:11): Scorpio surrenders but a vengeful Callahan still shoots him down like a dog. Here we see Scorpio doing a majestic backflip as the bullet enters his leg. Andy Robinson said in an interview years later that the backflip was his spur-of-the-moment improvisation not initially part of the script. Director Don Siegel apparently loved it so much he kept it in the scene.

Scene-shot (01:06:21): "Please no more! Don't hurt me! Can't you see I'm hurt, you shot me!" A wonded and immobile Scorpio awaits his nemesis, begging the approaching Callahan to show mercy. Following the scene at Mt. Davidson Park where Scorpio nearly ended Callahan's life, the issue is now personal. Asked by Fatso if he needs any help, Callahan tells his partner to "go on out and get some air". With time running out for the kidnapped girl (she has enough air to last only one more hour) Callahan is about to use "non-conventional" policing methods - in other words, torture - to force Scorpio into revealling the girl's whereabouts, while at the same time, inflicting some measure of personal revenge.

Scene-shot (01:06:45): Callahan: "The girl, where is she?" Scorpio: "You tried to kill me!" Callahan: "If I tried that your head would be splattered all over this field. Now, where's the girl?"

Scene-shot (01:06:42): "I want a lawyer! I have the rights to a lawyer!" Scorpio pleads his case before an angry and unsympathetic Callahan begins "applying pressure" to the leg wound. Notice the white pitch marking in the form of a cross behing Scorpio. At Mt. Davidson Park it was Callahan who suffered by the cross; now it's Scorpio's turn. Director Don Siegel once said that he chose Andy Robinson the play Scorpio because he wanted the psychopath to "have a face of a choirboy". Robinson certainly fitted that bill and this shot aptly sums up Siegel's vision.

Scene-shot (01:07:18): Final shot of the sequence. As Callahan tortures Scorpio the camera - mounted to a helicopter - tracks upwards and we get a full panoramic view of a misty, desolate Kezar Stadium.

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