Dave Toschi and Dirty Harry

Dave Toschi and Dirty HarryA recent article at hollywood.com lists 10 Action Movie Heroes (Who Actually Existed). While an interesting read from a general-interest perspective, it's especially notable because entry number seven discusses Dave Toschi and Dirty Harry. Specifically, it describes how Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry character, Harry Callahan, was inspired by none other than San Francisco homicide investigator Dave Toschi. The article dutifully notes that the movie's villain, Scorpio, was likewise inspired by The Zodiac. It goes on to point out that Toschi also partially inspired Steve McQueen's Bullitt character.

If only the real Zodiac investigation had managed to work its way to a simplistic, satisfying ending, like the one found in Dirty Harry. Sadly, reality is often less cooperative than the fictional worlds of Hollywood. Hence, here we are, nearly fifty years later, still trying to figure out what happened and who was responsible...

Beyond Dave Toschi and Dirty Harry, there are other interesting instances of influence, although some are a bit speculative. In particular, I was surprised by Johnny Depp's comments on how he found inspiration when crafting his Jack Sparrow character.

Michael Cole

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