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Sunday April 21st 2024

Sudden Impact | 1983

Sudden Impact film location: Burger Island, Third Street, San Francisco
Sudden Impact film location: The attempted robbery: Burger Island (now gone), Third Street, San Francisco

The fourth outing for Dirty Harry Callahan is the only one directed by star Clint Eastwood himself.

Reputedly no longer welcome in cute, touristy and liberal San Francisco, most of the action is shifted to the fictitious ‘San Paulo’, to which Harry is transferred after his methods continue to wreak havoc. ‘San Paulo’ is, in fact, Santa Cruz just down the coast on Highway 1.

Gaping plot holes and outrageous coincidences mean that this is hardly the greatest movie of all time, but Eastwood’s line as he deals with the robbery at the ‘Acorn Cafe’ has passed into legend : “Go ahead, make my day”. The restaurant was Burger Island, now a McDonald's, 901 Third Street at Townsend Street, at China Basin, San Francisco.

By the way, at the opening of the shot, you'll see the Lefty O'Doul Drawbridge, featured in 1985 Bond movie A View To A Kill.

Before he's banished from the city, Harry causes a bit of a stir at a wedding party, by provoking suspect Threlkis (an uncredited Michael V Gazzo, Pentangeli from Godfather Part II) into a fatal heart attack. The party seems to be at San Francisco's prestigious InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, 999 California Street at Nob Hill.

This is only used for the exterior, though. Since most of the film was being shot in Santa Cruz, the ballroom is the more convenient (and presumably cheaper) Cocoanut Grove Ballroom, 400 Beach Street, on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Sudden Impact film location: The Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California
Sudden Impact film location: 'San Paulo' fairground: The Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California

Surprise! Jennifer (Sondra Locke), the killer of the victim discovered in San Francisco at the opening of the movie, is also down here restoring the Carousel on the famous old Boardwalk. She's avenging the rape of herself and her sister by the son of – surprise! – the chief of police who's now Harry's superior. Small world, huh?

It's on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk that the final confrontation takes place, with a reprise of “Come on, make my day.” The villain makes a spectacular final dive from the venerable wooden rollercoaster, which you'll probably recognise from Joel Schumacher's The Lost Boys.