Reportedly, when Jim Carrey came in to audition for Clint Eastwood for this film, he did not do one of his scenes from this movie, but instead did his Vegas Elvis Presley act, which cracked up Eastwood and his colleagues.
In the outdoor elevator action sequence, Patricia Clarkson stated how she was petrified when the elevator was shot at by a blaze of deafening and frightening firepower, but was comforted greatly by Clint Eastwood, who as Dirty Harry, covered and protected her. Clarkson has revealed that the bullets from the battery of Uzis were in fact marbles.
According to the documentary on the Special Edition DVD set, the movie critic who gets killed is based upon famed critic Pauline Kael. It was Kael who, when critiquing the first Dirty Harry (1971) film, accused Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood of making a "fascist" and "racist" film. The critic in this film is made up to resemble Kael as she appeared during this film's release as an in-joke.
First of two Clint Eastwood movies which feature a then unknown Jim Carrey. The second would be a cameo in Pink Cadillac (1989) where Carrey is briefly seen performing his "Post-Nuclear Elvis Lounge Act".
The car chase sequence was inspired by the one in the earlier Steve McQueen movie Bullitt (1968). There was an intention to top that car chase with this film. Reportedly, the sequence is Clint Eastwood's favorite from the movie.
None of the patrons working out in the gym have any weights loaded on their exercise equipment. This is not a mistake, but most likely intentional because repeated takes in the scene would exhaust the actors.
When Clint Eastwood made this movie, he was the Mayor of Carmel, California. The picture was the third and final film that he made during his mayoral term--the other two were Heartbreak Ridge (1986) and Bird (1988).
According to the book "Clint Eastwood: Hollywood's Loner" (1992) by Michael Munn, Clint Eastwood once said of this movie, "It's fun, once in a while, to have a character you can go back to. It's like revisiting 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'."
The film came about when Warner Bros. greenlit and financed Clint Eastwood's pet project, the biopic of musician Charlie Parker called Bird (1988). Eastwood, returning the favor to the studio, agreed to make a film for them that would be commercial and carry box-office weight. Warner Bros. suggested another Dirty Harry movie.
When Samantha Walker is having dinner with Harry Callahan, she tells about how she has researched his "colorful" police career and then she pulls out a notebook filled with collected headlines. One of those headlines read "Scorpio Killer Captured". Scorpio was the main villain in the first film of the series, Dirty Harry (1971).
The fifth and last Dirty Harry movie, at least that Clint Eastwood would star in. There was speculation on the web and in the media--which turned out to be false-that Gran Torino (2008) was going to be the sixth and final Dirty Harry movie. According to the book "American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood" (2009) by Marc Eliot, Eastwood has publicly stated that he has no interest in making another Dirty Harry film. He said, "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?".
Early in the movie, Harry walks past a series of memorial plaques to police officers of San Francisco killed in the line of duty. They are the same plaques featured in the opening of Dirty Harry (1971).
Despite being equipped with an eight-cell 8.4v NiCd battery, not the race regulation 6-cell 7.2v, the bomb driver, Jay Halsey, was unsure if the "bomb" could keep up with the Oldsmobile. During filming, the "bomb" outpaced the Oldsmobile on numerous occasions, forcing the scene to be re-shot several times; therefore, the "bomb" was not driven at its full pace until the part when it was about to be detonated.
A modified 1/10 scale Team Associated RC10 off road buggy with an off-the-shelf Parma International 1963 Chevrolet Corvette body was used in the famous chase scene in which "Dirty Harry" Callahan is being pursued through the streets of San Francisco, California by a highly explosive bomb disguised as an R/C car. The "bomb" was driven by former IFMAR World Championship race driver Jay Halsey, who was hired as the director required an expert driver. Despite being equipped with an electric motor like all other competition-grade models; the sound effect of the internal combustion engine was added in post-production.
The titles and taglines for some of the horror movies directed by Peter Swan (Liam Neeson) mentioned in the film and displayed on movie posters included: HOTEL SATAN ("You check in. You die."); NIGHT OF THE SLASHER ("Evil Hands are Happy Hands"); WITHOUT THE DEVIL ("How does this grab you?"); HELL WITHOUT THE DEVIL; NIGHT OF THE HANGMAN (script only shown) and SHADOWS OF THE DEAD ("Everyone should be afraid of the dark").
As mentioned on the DVD audio commentary, there was some furor and protest from citizens of San Francisco as to whether the city needed and/or wanted another Dirty Harry movie, as it was held by some that the character of Harry Callahan was necessarily an appropriate representative for the City of San Francisco. There was a debate within the city whether it was good public relations to have Dirty Harry reflect the city. The alternate view stated that the character was good for the city despite his anti-hero dimensions, that he was a famous, mythical and legendary symbol of the modern American cinema, and that the franchise had been a good advertisement for the city and its tourist attractions.
The movie's story was conceived by three of Clint Eastwood's acquaintances, whom he knew through the health and fitness scene. Sandy Shaw, Durk Pearson and Steve Sharon wrote the story with the latter acting as scriptwriter. This movie is the only screenwriting credit for all three of them.
The meat locker/slaughterhouse sequence took around three days to shoot. These scenes were shot in Los Angeles, and not San Francisco, the only location shooting done outside of the city. It was done at the end of principal photography.
In one scene Harry's walking with the reporter from the bar and two men from the bar follow them and ask Harry for an autograph, to which Harry responds by pulling his gun,. At the end of this scene when Harry and the reporter are walking away, one man says to the other and says, "Man, I think I need to change my shorts" and if you look close there's a wet spot on the man's crotch like he urinated himself.
Buddy Van Horn, a friend and colleague of Clint Eastwood, was chosen to direct, because Eastwood knew Van Horn would shoot the film fast, something Eastwood always prefers. The two carried on the working relationship with Pink Cadillac (1989).
A number of the crew's names were used as names on "The Dead Pool" Master List of intended victims. These included the Director of Photography Jack N. Green (as Jack Green), Assistant Film Editor, Michael Cipriano (as Michael Cipriano) and the Chief Lighting Technician, Tom Stern (as Thomas Stern). When Inspector Quan (Evan C. Kim) finds the list on the body of a Chinatown robbery victim, he shows the list to Callahan, and mentions that Michael Cipriano was a racing-car driver.
The use of the song "Welcome to the Jungle" by rock band Guns N' Roses tied in quite well, according to industry insiders, because the word "Guns" of the group connected with the "Magnum" that Dirty Harry used.
In Australia, this was the first Dirty Harry movie not be 18 certificated, known in this territory as the R-Certificate. The movie got an M rating, recommended for persons 15 years and over. Since that time, however, Dirty Harry (1971) has now been rated on DVD with the new lower rating of MA15+ (Mature Adults, restricted to persons 15 years and over), while the other three films still remain R-rated on DVD.
The Clint Eastwood film Bird (1988) was shot before this film but launched stateside after it. "Bird" was filmed during the last quarter of 1987, while this film was shot from February to April of 1988. "Bird" was not released in the U.S. until late September 1988 after this film had debuted for the American summer season in July 1988, summer being a very lucrative period for theaters.
Of the five "Dirty Harry" films, this is the only one in which Inspector Callahan does not drive a traditional police package vehicle. His assigned motor pool car is a 1988 Oldsmobile Delta 88. In the previous films, the production companies used retired ex-police vehicles.
The song "Welcome to the Jungle" was used as the rock clip as the music video tie-in (sung by rock star Johnny Squares (Jim Carrey) for this movie's movie-within-a-movie which was called "Hotel Satan". The song also became a music tie-in for the actual film itself, making its use a twofold tie-in.
At the end when Harry has Rook cornered, he says, "You're out of bullets." This is a reference to the classic "Do you feel lucky?" monologue by Harry in Dirty Harry (1971) in which Harry says to the bank robber, "You're wondering, 'Did he fire six shots or only five?'"
Jim Carrey and Liam Neeson would go on to play Batman villains. Carrey as Edward Nygma/The Riddler in Batman Forever (1995) and Neeson as Henry Ducard/Ra's Al Ghoul in Batman Begins (2005). Clint Eastwood was considered for the part of Harvey Dent/Two-Face on Batman (1966) before the character was eventually scrapped from the show.
The title refers to a list of names, all celebrities, that are intended victims of a serial killer operating in San Francisco. "The Dead Pool" was actually four lists grouped together on a document called the "Master List", and originally it was the paperwork for a fictitious game by a horror movie production unit, but gets copycatted by a real-life serial killer.