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

California Hall

Corner of Polk & Turk Streets, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA

SCENE SYNOPSIS:

Towards the end of the “Hot Mary” scene Callahan and Chico receive a “8-o-4 in progress” call over the car radio. They’re ordered to proceed to California Hall on the corner of Polk & Turk Streets where a man in a green M43 combat jacket and yellow-tinted Aviator (Shooter) sunglasses has been spotted lurking on the rooftop.

Called to the scene in the initial belief that the man is the “sniper” (Scorpio), it turns out to be an unrelated suicide attempt. Still, since Callahan is here, maybe he’ll be able to use his persuasive skills to coax the jumper down. After all, isn’t that why they call him Dirty Harry? Every dirty job that comes along?

The scene is further testimony to the unconventional methods Callahan adopts in typical policing situations.

According to Michael Munn in his book, Clint Eastwood: Hollywood’s Loner, director Don Siegel fell ill before the shooting of this scene so Eastwood personally took charge, opting to use hand-held cameras to give the whole sequence a semi-documentary feel. A week had been set aside for the scene; under Eastwood’s direction it was completed in one night.

Scene-shot (00:27:28): Heading west along Turk Street Callahan and Chico approach California Hall. Note the side entrance with the yellow neon lights, the three parallel rectangular windows on the building's lower level, and the "Embassy" sign on the corner of the building opposite.

STATE OF PLAY TODAY:

California Hall in 2010 looks almost identical to how it did in 1971. Only the flow of tenants have changed in the interim. Located between the Civic Center and the Tenderloin district, California Hall is an impressive Teutonic Rathaus built in 1912 by the German Association when the street formed a commercial hub for San Francisco’s German community.

Approaching today from the east along Turk Street (as Callahan and Chico did) the building looks much the way it was in the film. The side entrance with the canopy roofing on Turk Street and the three parallel rectangular windows on the building’s lower level are instantly recognizable.

But perhaps the most prominent giveaway is the “Embassy” hotel sign facing California Hall on the opposite side of Polk Street. When Callahan approaches the roof ledge to talk to the jumper (see scene-shot 00:29:41 below), the sign is clearly visible behind him. Today, the sign is located in exactly the same position and still bears the same typeface.

Scene-shot (00:27:49): Callahan and Chico approaching the corner of California Hall after heading west along Turk Street. Notice the side entrance with the yellow neon canopy.

Scene-shot (00:27:39): The suicide jumper (stuntman Buddy Van Horn) in a green M43 combat jacket and yellow-tinted aviator (Shooter) sunglasses peers over the edge of the California Hall rooftop.

Scene-shot (00:29:41): "I just want your name and address, that's all."... "Why?"... "Like I said, it's such a mess down there afterwards it makes identification almost impossible...." Callahan approaching the top of California Hall to speak with the jumper. Note the "Embassy" sign behind Callahan; this belongs to the Embassy Hotel which is directly opposite California Hall. In 2010 it was still functioning as a hotel and the sign remains (see photos).

Scene-shot (00:31:09): After some "gentle persuasion" Callahan brings the unconscious (but alive) suicide attemptee back to ground level. Notice the detailed carvings on the outer wall behind Callahan.

Scene-shot (00:30:55): Chico and the Fireman observe Callahan's descent.

Scene-shot (00:31:39): "Now you know why they call me Dirty Harry..... Every dirty job that comes along!" Callahan gets philisophical with Chico after "persuading" the jumper to come down.

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