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Hanks is first-rate, but he can't match the slobber production of Beasley, his co-star

  • Feb 18, 2011
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There are three film stars who shine brightly in the pantheon of those whose lives were tragically cut short just at the cusp of iconic movie greatness...James Dean, Heath Ledger and Sal Mineo. Yet there is a fourth who by rights should join them. This actor made but one film, yet his ability to project bravery, loyalty, compassion and the boisterous joy of living through his acting was, many believe, without parallel. He died at the height of his fame, a mere three years after his triumphant success in this film. Let there now be four stars in that tragic but noble pantheon...Dean, Ledger, Mineo and Beasley. And let it be recognized, without envy or jealousy, that Beasley's ability to project drool was far greater and more accurate than Dean, Ledger and Mineo combined.
Turner & Hooch is a low key, modest comedy crime caper with a heavy dose of light romance thrown in. Tom Hanks plays Detective Scott Turner, a young man who is far too neat for his own good. He's about to transfer from his small town of Cypress Beach to the big city when a friend, an old man played by that great character actor John McIntire, is murdered. Turner delays his move and pleads with his police chief to be given the case. He's sure the old man's dog, a big, slobbering French Mastiff named Hooch (Beasley) saw what happened and can help identify the killer. Turner agrees to have Hooch live with him while he's on the case. Not to cut the plot too short, Turner and Hooch solve the case, but not without wild car chases, tense shoot-outs, money laundering, veterinary examinations, furniture chewing, refrigerator raiding and a lot of slobber.
The movie's plot, of course, is just an excuse to allow two actors with great likability to do their stuff. Hanks had by now already proven how skilled a light comedy actor he was. More to the point, he had the sort of personality and goofy looks that create instant empathy with an audience. Beasley, however, was the surprise. A novice actor, he was an unknown without even off-Broadway experience. He carried out his role with the skill and subtlety of a pro. Just as some actors can cause real tears to run down their faces at the command of a director, Beasley was uncanny in his ability to generate, as needed, drool. His resourcefulness also has become legend. In one scene, the sight of Hanks prancing around his apartment wearing a pair of tighty-whities (black ones) threatened to derail Hollywood's gay fashion industry. Fortunately, Beasley suggested quietly to the director that some amusing antics on his part might distract the audience from the odd awfulness of Hank's appearance. He was right. Yet the scene where Hanks and Beasley are on the pier and Scott Turner must wrestle Hooch to the police car is a fine example of ensemble acting by two talented and unselfish actors, each totally into their characters and yet giving fully to the other.
At the end of the movie the murder has been solved, the mastermind unmasked and young Turner has become chief of police. He has a wife, the veterinarian Dr. Emily Carson (played winningly by Mare Winningham). They have a baby on the way. They will remember Hooch in many ways, and so will Emily's collie.
Wherever in that pantheon they reside, I'm sure Dean, Ledger and Mineo are working with Beasley, now all of them close friends, to perfect slobber on command.

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February 18, 2011
I have fond memories of this movie. Thanks for the reminder, it would make a great rental!
About the reviewer
C. O. DeRiemer ()
Ranked #32
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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Turner & Hooch is a 1989 comedy film starring Tom Hanks, Mare Winningham, Craig T. Nelson, and Reginald VelJohnson. It was directed by Roger Spottiswoode; the movie was originally slated to be directed by Henry Winkler, but he was terminated due to "creative differences". It was co-written by Michael Blodgett from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls fame.

A pilot for a Turner & Hooch TV series was made and ran as a part of Disneyland. Although K9 (with Jim Belushi) was released prior to this film (four months earlier), Turner & Hooch became more popular and seemingly over-shadowed its success, even though it had a very similar storyline/plot.

Tom Hanks plays Scott Turner, an obsessively neat police investigator, who acquires Hooch (Beasley the Dog), a large and slobbery Dogue de Bordeaux, after the murder of Amos Reed (John McIntire), a local junk yard owner he was friends with. Turner, bored with little police work in Cypress Beach, California, is set to transfer to a better job in Sacramento, and fellow investigator David Sutton (Reginald VelJohnson) is to be his replacement. However, Turner pleads with police chief Howard Hyde (Craig T. Nelson) to let him take on Amos' murder case. Believing that Hooch is the only witness he has to the murder, Turner brings him home. The energetic dog promptly destroys Turner's house, his car, and turns his life upside-down. On a positive note, however, Hooch also instigates a romance between Turner and the new town ...

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Film, Comedy, Dogs, Tom Hanks, Detective, Mans Best Friend


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