Clint Eastwood as Insp. Harry Callahan, badass San Francisco Police Department inspector
San Francisco, Late Summer 1972
Film: Magnum Force
Release Date: December 25, 1973
Director: Ted Post
Costume Supervisor: Glenn Wright
Magnum Force was originally developed by John Milius as Vigilance, a simple film about a group of young officers in the SFPD going rogue to exterminate the worst of the city’s crooks. Clint Eastwood quickly got his hands on the script and decided that the film would be a good vehicle to show that Harry Callahan may be harsh in his methods, but he isn’t a total vigilante who takes the law in his hands. (Although some would say the opposite about Eastwood during the film’s production.)
Due to Milius’ extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for firearms, the film included plenty of gun handling both on and off the job with extended scenes set during both practice and competition.
What’d He Wear?
Harry spends much of Magnum Force, including the climactic finale, wearing a brown herringbone sportcoat and slacks that are very appropriate for a late summer day in San Francisco (and a fall day anywhere else). This outfit, especially given some of the countrified elements incorporated into the sportcoat’s design, would also be fine for a jaunt to the countryside and reflects a ’70s version of the similar hacking jacket and cavalry twill trousers worn by Sean Connery in Goldfinger.
The single-breasted sport jacket is brown herringbone wool with very wide notch lapels and a comfortably long fit. The lapels are a bit large, even for 1973 standards, and this would have been especially detrimental on a shorter man than Harry. Luckily for the era’s fashions, Clint Eastwood’s 6’4″ height keeps the large lapels from looking overwhelming.
The jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads and a long single vent in the rear. Edge stitching is visible throughout.
Both the 3-button front and the 2-button cuffs consist of brown leather knots. The only outer pockets are the two hip pockets with large flaps.
Other rustic elements of Harry’s sportcoat are the double-stitched front and rear yokes, cutting horizontally across the chest (and presumably preventing the addition of a breast pocket) and slightly dipping in the rear to resemble a Western-style point.
Harry’s standard shirt with this jacket is a long-sleeve taupe dress shirt with large spread collars and rounded button cuffs. The front is plain with no placket, but there is a squared breast pocket.
Harry’s silk necktie is fashionably wide for the era. It has a maroon ground with a repeating pattern of small gold capsules insulating blue designs. The tie’s inner lining is a bright red silk, and the manufacturer is indicated on the black tag with gold lettering. Unfortunately, the tag is only seen briefly in a relatively far shot, so recognition would be difficult for all but the most eagle-eyed viewers.
The first time he wears this sportcoat in the film, though, it is with a sky blue shirt. This shirt is similarly styled to the other with large spread collars and rounded button cuffs. The silk necktie is also wide, but it is a busier pattern with large light blue floral wreaths encircling a yellow-cream floral center, all smattered onto a dark navy ground.
Harry’s trousers do not contrast much with his jacket, colored in neutral mink. They are flat front and rise high on his waist. The side pockets are slanted, and the jetted rear pockets close with buttons.
Harry keeps his pants up with a thick dark brown leather belt with a dulled brass clasp. Evidently, the belt is thick enough to fasten onto his massive shoulder holster. The trousers have plain-hemmed bottoms that break short over his feet.
His shoes are a pair of very well-worn dark brown leather plain-toe bluchers with black laces and black leather soles. Harry wears a pair of dark brown ribbed socks that nearly match the color of the shoes.
A manufacturer’s logo is visible on the heels of Harry’s shoes, but I’m not shoe-literate enough to recognize it in a blur.
Harry appears to have updated his holster for the second film, now wearing a brown soft leather holster slung low under his left armpit for a quick right-hand draw. It fastens to both sides of his belt and the leather straps are secured over his shoulders with white nylon cord.
Although most shoulder holsters suspend their weapon near the mid-chest, the size of Harry’s massive .44 Magnum necessitates it being worn closer to the hip. A traditional hip holster – worn cavalry-style a la Wild Bill Hickok – would have the same effect, but it would cause some very intense sagging on Harry’s belt as the 6″-barreled Smith & Wesson Model 29 weighs nearly three pounds.
Harry usually wears a watch during his adventures, but he appears to have forgone it for Magnum Force.
Harry has a clear preference for sport jackets and blazers, wearing them for his everyday work and only saving suits for special occasions. Off-duty, he tends to wear very cop-like windbreakers with polos and trousers.
Harry wears the same shirt and trousers with a dark brown blazer earlier in the film during the failed grocery store holdup.
Go Big or Go Home
Although he earned much of his reputation from his shooting, Harry also shows a proficiency behind the wheel. It may not be Car Week just yet, but I’d like to look at some of the classic Fords that Harry drives during the film.
Harry’s SFPD duty car is a brown, unmarked 1972 Ford Galaxie 500. The Galaxie 500 was the mid-range sedan for Ford, a slightly upscale version of the dark brown ’71 Ford Custom 500 that Burt Reynolds drove in White Lightning.
Harry’s Galaxie 500 has a V8 engine – likely the most common 351 cubic inch engine – paired with Ford’s SelectShift automatic transmission. It is fitted with California license plates 650 MTW.
Harry’s personal car is an electric blue 1972 Ford LTD 2-door convertible with a white soft top roof. I wouldn’t suspect that a guy like Harry would drive a convertible, but he does have a sporty side. If the Custom was Ford’s base model and the Galaxie was mid-range, the LTD was the top luxury model of Ford’s line. Like the Galaxie sedan, Harry’s LTD likely has a 351 cubic inch V8 engine and the SelectShift automatic transmission. It’s worth noting that 1972 was the final year for the LTD convertible as many manufacturers began phasing out convertibles during the mid-’70s.
Harry also knows his way around a motorcycle, zipping around on a Triumph T 100 Tiger 500cc presumably taken from a downed motorcycle cop during the final scenes. The bulk of the film featured the patrolmen on 1972 Moto Guzzi Eldorado V7 850 Police Special bikes, but Eastwood found the Triumph to be more maneuverable.
How to Get the Look
With the exception of the tie, Harry’s outfit is predominantly brown – a serious color for a serious man. Brown was especially popular in the ’70s and reflects Harry’s direct sartorial backlash against the psychedelic color palette preferred by the hippie culture of the ’60s.
- Brown herringbone wool single-breasted sportcoat with large notch lapels, 3-leather knot button front, flapped hip pockets, 2-leather knot button cuffs, and long single vent
- Mink flat front trousers with belt loops, slanted side pockets, button-through jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Taupe cotton shirt with large spread collar, placket-less front, squared breast pocket, rounded button cuffs
- Maroon silk necktie with repeating gold-and-blue capsule design
- Dark brown leather belt with dulled brass clasp
- Dark brown leather bluchers with black laces and black leather soles
- Dark brown ribbed socks
- Light brown leather shoulder holster (RHD) for a Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver
Does anyone really not know what type of gun Harry carried? Right up there with James Bond’s Walther PPK, Harry Callahan’s Smith & Wesson Model 29 is one of the few guns that even non-enthusiasts know by heart. Harry’s Model 29 is blued with a 6.5″ barrel and rosewood grips. Although it gained much notoriety as a “.44 Magnum”, Harry actually implies that he uses .44 Special loads instead when he tells the motorcycle cops:
It’s a light Special. This size gun it gives you better control and less recoil than a .357 Magnum with waductters.
While it might be slightly more practical to carry a .44 Special than a .44 Magnum in a heavily urban environment like San Francisco, the film’s aficionado writer John Milius explained in the 2008 DVD release that the line was misinterpreted and actually meant that Harry used a specially prepared lighter Magnum load, perhaps even reloaded by Harry himself.
Magnum Force includes the first instance of Harry losing his Model 29. After he hands it over to the crooked Lieutenant Briggs, Harry is unable to retrieve the Model 29 from Briggs’ car, and it is likely destroyed when the car explodes.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the Dirty Harry collection. Keep an eye out for Clint’s stunt double too.
A man’s got to know his limitations.