Watched: August 20 2022
Director: Don Siegel
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee J. Cobb, Susan Clark, Tisha Sterling, Don Stroud, Betty Field, Tom Tully
Runtime: 1h 33min
Coogan, a sheriff’s deputy in Arizona, is sent to New York City to pick up a prisoner and bring him back for trial. Easy enough you might think. But you’d be wrong. The prisoner, James Ringerman, is not so much in jail as he is in Bellevue after a bad LSD trip. In order to get him back, Coogan has to follow loads of rules, regulations and procedures. Coogan is not a fan of rules and regulations. Or procedures. So he bluffs to get Ringerman out of Bellevue. Hence the title purloined from an actual location in NYC. See what they did there?
Unfortunately, Ringerman escapes and neither NYPD Lt. McElroy nor Sheriff McCrea is very impressed by Coogan’s shenanigans so they both command him off the case. However, Coogan is not a fan of commands either, so he promptly ignores them and decides to hunt down his escaped prisoner.
Along the way, he runs into the weirdest female character – Julie Roth. She’s some sort of psychoanalyst/social worker/parole officer working with young women on probation, and her fetish is being taken advantage of and objectified by men. Perfect for Coogan who is all about the objectification of women. Sometimes fate just intervenes and brings people together.
For the rest of the movie Coogan runs around NYC getting into brawls and beds in his hunt for Ringerman. He quips and sasses, and participates in quite a cool motorcycle chase. But will he catch his prey?
Ok, the action is cool and we loved the swinging 60s party, but the protagonist and the “love story” seem incredibly dated. Coogan, though kind of hilarious at times and undeniably intelligent and charming, is a cocky and chauvinistic asshole with absolutely no regard for anyone else. Which we guess is sort of the point; the conservative (in some ways) country boy vs. the liberal city values. And while it probably works as intended, it’s kind of Toxic Masculinity: The Movie. Also, Julie needs some serious therapy for falling for his crap. Actually, they both need therapy, but she seems more likely to seek it out. He has no reason to, as society keeps rewarding him for his assholey behaviour and talking about your feelings is probably for city sissies anyway.
Coogan’s Bluff is interesting as a double feature with Bullitt; the contrast between the two protagonists (who in many ways are very similar) only underlines what a bitch Coogan is. Still a fun watch though – the bar brawl is legendary. And sure, we get how a young Clint Eastwood might blind a young psychologist to anything but the D, but come on Julie! He is never going to meet your emotional needs. Just bang him and get it out of your system. If you need a strong, silent type with a clear sense of right and wrong who still doesn’t mind breaking a few rules to bring criminals to justice, and who is comfortable being in a relationship with an educated, professional woman, look no further than Lt. Bullitt.
What we learned: Sometimes the hot bastard is just a hot bastard – don’t waste your time searching for that hidden heart of gold and ascribing characteristics to them that they just don’t possess.
Next time: Danger: Diabolik (1968)