Film / 48 Hrs.

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"There's a new sheriff in town!"

48 Hrs. is a 1982 buddy cop film starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte. The film tells the story of gruff San Francisco cop Jack Cates (Nolte), who must track down a California murderer with the temporary help of a street smart criminal named Reggie Hammond (Murphy) within 48 hours.

Directed by Walter Hill of The Warriors fame, the film is often considered the first Buddy Cop film note , or at least the one to popularize the concept.

The film is also notable for being Eddie Murphy's film debut, helping jumpstart his successful career in film as well.

A sequel, Another 48 Hrs. was released in 1990 and is the direct sequel to the 1982 film. It remains the only sequel to date Walter Hill has ever directed.

Not to be confused with CBS's documentary series 48 Hours, or A&E's The First 48.


Has the examples of:

  • Ambiguously Bi: Lisa and Casey sleep with Billy and Ganz, and are also implied to be sleeping with each other.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Reggie uses Jack's badge to cause commotion at a redneck bar in order to gain information.
  • Bedmate Reveal: During the beginning of the film after the opening credits end, we see a close up of a sleepy Jack Cates lying on his pillow and then his watch awakens him. Then the camera cuts to a woman named Elane Marshall who is wearing Jack's blue shirt.
  • Book Ends: Reggie walking into an all-white bar is matched by a later scene where Jack walks into an all-black bar.
  • Big Bad: Albert Ganz, an escaped criminal pursuing stolen loot.
  • Captain Obvious: During the showdown between Ganz and Cates at the end of the first film Cates shoots Ganz while Ganz is holding Reggie hostage, Ganz replies: " I GOT HIT! I DON'T BELIEVE IT! I GOT SHOT!!
  • Catch-Phrase: Jack says once in both movies when a gunfight occurs:
    Jack: Call for help now!
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Running Gag of Reggie trying to get laid gives him a Eureka Moment when he figures that Bear and Ganz will hook up with their ex-girlfriends.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Jack Cates.
    Jack: Let me explain one thing to you, nigger: I fight DIRTY!
  • Cool Car: Reggie Hammond's Porsche 356 (replica) convertible, in contrast to Jack Cates' 1964 Cadillac Coupe deVille ragtop.
  • Cool Guns: Jack Cates carries a Smith and Wesson Model 29 as his preferred sidearm until Ganz takes it from him and he has to borrow a 1911 for most of the film. Ganz even taunts him that he has his gun. He's forced to hand his .44 in when he's suspended in the second film, he switches to a Model 629, a stainless steel variant, which he keeps in the back of his car.
  • Cop Killer: The plot is kicked off by Albert Ganz and Billy Bear killing two prison guards to spring Ganz from prison. While hiding out at a hotel, Ganz and Bear ambush and kill two plain clothes detectives, and to show they're not finished with their disdain of law enforcement, later they kill a transit officer in a subway station. One hooker who Ganz roughed up even tells the cops that he seems to like killing cops more then getting laid.
  • Cops Need the Vigilante: This movie and its sequel are at least honest in that the guy breaking the rules is an actual criminal. Still, the case would get thrown right the hell out.
  • Darker and Edgier: Fans of Eddie Murphy's later work will probably be shocked at how violent and grim this film is, with Murphy himself being the only real source of any humor. In fact the studio had wanted a relatively light comedy film, but director Walter Hill took it in a much darker direction. The film was a big hit anyway, but it led to the studio bringing Beverly Hills Cop out of Development Hell with Murphy as the lead, in order to deliver the film they had originally wanted.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Jack and Reggie start off on opposite sides of the law, but are forced to work together. Reggie starts off leading Jack to criminal places but it's only after the fistfight, Reggie levels with Jack and they are really on the same side.
  • The Dragon: Billy Bear to Ganz, as his subordinate partner-in-crime.
  • Event Title
  • Exact Words: Luther told Ganz not to hurt Rosalee. Unfortunately, Luther himself is fair game.
    Ganz: I said I wouldn't hurt her, didn't I?
  • Fake-Out Opening: The opening of the film shows a chain gang in the middle of the desert.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Hold it, you asshole!" Chain gang guard
    • "Get out of the way!" Chain gang guard
    • "Yeah, and like we said, you stake out the lobby." Vanzant
    • "Don't do that for me." Algren
    • "Hey, you! Put that down!" Street cop
    • "Rosalie, are you all right?" Luther
    • "I got hit! I don't believe it. I got shot! You...." Ganz
  • Fight Scene: The hilarious fist-fight scene between Nolte and Murphy. Nolte and Murphy each punch each other the exact same number of times. The fight begins with Murphy landing more punches on Nolte, but then Nolte catches up by the end of the sequence. However, if you count correctly, you'll notice that Nolte is still one punch behind Murphy. That's why once they are both back sitting in the car, about to drive off, Nolte suddenly lands one last knuckle sandwich squarely on Murphy's jaw, and they are even.
  • Flipping the Bird: Ganz when he and Billy escape at the beginning of the film.
  • Friendship Denial: Jack has this quote that comes in mind as he forms a grudging partnership with Reggie:
    Now, get this! We ain't partners. We ain't brothers. And we ain't friends. I'm puttin' you down and keepin' you down until Ganz is locked up or dead. And if Ganz gets away, you're gonna be sorry YOU ever MET me!
  • Give Me Back My Wallet: Reggie tells Jack that he intends to go straight after he's paroled, "But just in case I don't, what makes you think you can catch me?" Nick replies: "Can I have my lighter back?"
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Dirty Cop Ben Kehoe, who appears in this film as just one of Jack's friends from work and goes by the alias "The Iceman" in the sequel, is responsible for Reggie landing in prison in the first place before partnering up with Jack.
  • Hand Cannon: Jack has a preference for .44 Magnum revolvers. Cherry in the sequel carries a Desert Eagle as his Weapon of Choice.
  • Hero Insurance: Reggie shoots an unarmed bar patron in the leg, right in front of a police officer (Jack), and gets away with it.
  • Human Shield: A variation of this trope occurs. Ganz gets Jack to drop his gun by threatening a wounded cop. Since Ganz kills the cop anyway, when he uses Reggie as a true Human Shield at the end of the movie, Jack just kills him.
  • I Don't Like You and You Don't Like Me:
    Jack: Now, get this! We ain't partners. We ain't brothers. And we ain't friends. I'm puttin' you down and keepin' you down until Ganz is locked up or dead. And if Ganz gets away, you're gonna be sorry YOU ever MET me!
    Reggie: I'm already sorry.
  • I'm Your Worst Nightmare: "I'm your worst fuckin' nightmare, man... a nigger with a badge."
  • Insult Backfire:
    Reggie: Jack...tell me a story.
    Jack: Fuck you!
    Reggie: Oh, that's one of my favorites!
  • Interrogation by Vandalism: Reggie starts to trash the redneck bar until he gets the information he wants.
  • Ironic Echo: "We ain't brothers, we ain't partners, and we ain't friends. And if Ganz gets away, you're gonna be sorry you ever met me!"
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: Billy advances on Reggie with a knife, while the latter is pointing a gun at him. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Jack calls often Reggie by racial surnames, at some points even using the "N" word. He softens up tough later and becomes more friendly.
  • Once per Episode: These things occur in both movies:
    • Reggie's complaints about his car being so dusty.
    • "Hang on a second. I gotta get something on."
    • Jack "Call for help now!".
  • The Oner: The first scene at the police station.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Jack throws racial slurs at Reggie (watermelon, spear-chucker, nigger and "charcoal coloured-loser"), though he does apologise later on. Reggie tosses around homophobic slurs (faggot and dykes).
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away:
    • Played straight at the beginning where Jack giving up his gun gets one cop killed and lets the bad guys get away. That's why he doesn't make the same mistake at the end of the movie.
    • Averted later when Ganz holds Reggie hostage at gunpoint, he orders Jack to drop his weapon. Reggie insists that Jack shoots him. Which he does. After which Reggie berates Jack for nearly killing him.
  • Quest for Sex: Reggie goes out of his way to get some. It's not the main plot, but a subplot. He is in prison, and is going back at the end.
  • Race Against the Clock: Jack and Reggie are given forty-eight hours to track down the escaped murderer Ganz.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Jack recruits Reggie because of Reggie's connection to the case.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Reggie intimidates an entire redneck bar with nothing but his own bravado and Jack's borrowed police ID, which he flashes while covering the photo.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Several characters use Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers in both films. Jack Cates uses a Smith & Wesson 29 on his job, for example. Jack's revolver is even a plot point in the first film, as the Big Bad has taken it and Jack is forced to use a borrowed 1911 for the duration film until the very end.
  • Salt and Pepper: One of the classics.
  • Satellite Character: Despite getting third billing, Annette O'Toole's character has virtually zero bearing on the plot, doesn't have any dialogue with anyone except for Jack, and is never seen or mentioned again after she has an argument with him over the phone about two-thirds of the way through the film.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Happens in the beginning with Elane wearing Jack's blue shirt.
  • Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: Jack averts this when he and Casey have each other at gunpoint (she does not initially know that he is a cop, and then wants proof), announcing in a clear voice that he is going to bring his badge out of his jacket pocket, and then does so slowly and carefully.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: Ganz is holding Reggie hostage. Jack is advancing on them with a handgun. Reggie tells him to shoot the bad guy. When Cates does, no one is more shocked than Reggie.
  • Television Geography: Chinatown is not "down the alley" from the Mission District.
  • That's Gotta Hurt: Reggie hits Luther with a Toyota Tripwire. Then he hits him with this:
    What's happening, Luther? I'm sorry about the door man. Did that hurt? It looked real painful when you slammed into it.
  • They Fight Crime!: To quote the trailer voice-over: "Nick Nolte is a cop, Eddie Murphy is a con." They have 48 hours to Fight Crime!
  • Villain of Another Story: Ben, Jack's friend, is revealed to be a Dirty Cop who is connected to Reggie's Back Story in the sequel, yet he appeared in this film and is Out of Focus.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Ganz when he gets shot by Jack.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The movie begins with Ganz's escape from a chain gang with help from a friend.
  • We Need a Distraction: One of the chain gang prisoners provokes a fight with a Native American who turns up asking for water for his truck. As the guards go to break them up, the two men pull out pistols and open fire.
  • What a Piece of Junk: Jack Cates' 1964 Cadillac Coupe deVille ragtop, in contrast to Reggie Hammond's Porsche 356 (replica) ragtop Cool Car.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Luther's girlfriend Rosalie disappears from the plot after Ganz kills him. However, given Ganz's maniacal nature it's unlikely she will be seen again.
  • Working on the Chain Gang: Ganz at the start of the movie.

Another 48 Hrs. has examples of:

  • All There in the Script: The original script revealed some interesting details that didn't make it into the final film:
    • Jack being in a new relationship with a female cop, who later says she was willing to plant a gun at the racetrack to clear his name. ** Reggie buying a gun on the street, which he would have carried throughout the film.
    • Jack's new Cadillac would have suffered the same fate as Reggie's Porsche. This prompted Reggie to make a joke about where Jack got the car alarms installed.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: When Cherry Ganz falls to his death at the end, he lands in the back of delivery truck loaded with 10-gallon spring water bottles that shatter on impact. Comments lefts on IMDb and other movie sites suggest modern viewers are often shocked to learn there was a time when spring water jugs were actually made out of glass.
  • Artifact Title: In the original, Reggie was on a 48-hour prison furlough. In this film, there is no time limit to his partnership with Jack, yet "48 hours" is still in the title.
  • Avenging the Villain: Cherry Ganz, the younger brother of the first film's Big Bad, wants to hunt down Jack Cates to avenge his brother's death in the previous film.
  • Bar Brawl: Jack ends up in one, when he meets a guy he arrested couple years back:
    "I don't want to get in a bar fight. People are always gettin' in bar fights. It's such a damn cliché. You hear about it all the time and you see it in the motion pictures, people are gettin' hit in the head with beer bottles, and furniture, andó" (* breaks bottle over man's head* )
  • Big Bad Friend: Jack's fellow officers are revealed to be the main villains.
  • Big "NO!": Cherry has this reaction when he sees Jack alive at the King Mei Hotel.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Jack wears one from time to time.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Thanks to losing his sidearm in the first film, Jack now keeps a spare revolver in his car.
  • Dirty Cop: Jack's buddies Frank and Ben from the previous film are revealed to be drug dealers.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Used when Price is shot.
  • Human Shield: A bad guy holds Reggie as a human shield. Jack gets him by shooting him through Reggie.
  • Internal Affairs: Blake Wilson, who is investigating Jack.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Ben, who appeared in the first film as one of Jack's work buddies yet had been a Dirty Cop all his life since the time Reggie robbed him that landed him in prison, gets his Just Desserts that he did not in the first film.
  • Put Your Gun Down And Step Away: Reggie tells Jack, "Why don't you just shoot me yourself?" which Jack does (NOT in the head, though. Then Jack shoots the villain. The look on the villain's face in between the two shots is priceless.
  • Re-Cut: The original cut was 145 minutes long. It was cut by either Walter Hill or the Paramount studio down to 120 minutes, and a week before its summer theatrical release an additional 25 minutes were cut out by Paramount, making a final theatrical version 95 minutes long. Frank Mc Rae's reprisal of his role from the original 48 Hrs. was entirely cut except for a brief, uncredited shot of him in the background of one scene in the police station. Brion James, also returning from the original, saw his role severely cut down as well, to create a faster-paced action-comedy. Also removed was a scene which was partially shown in the theatrical trailer in which Jack explains to Reggie that he has a deadline to track down the Iceman; as such, there is no mention of '48 hours' anywhere in the final film.
  • Shoot the Hostage: Reggie is taken hostage, and with his characteristically big mouth, asks the cop to "Just shoot me!" Which he then does. He doesn't even bother aiming for the legs.
  • Sound-Only Death: Subverted in one scene in which the Iceman kills Malcolm Price after Malcolm lets him in and shuts the door offering him some backup.
  • That One Case: Jack has spent years tracking down the mysterious "Iceman" to the point where everyone else is telling him to let it go. Turns out it's his friend Ben.
  • Treacherous Advisor: A retcon makes Jack Cates' fellow officer and longtime friend, Ben, the Big Bad, whom Reggie Hammond had robbed in the Back Story to the first film, making him the first film's Greater-Scope Villain, and the one who has been feeding Jack misinformation all along.
  • Window Pain: The film must set a record for most broken glass in a single film.


Alternative Title(s): Another Forty Eight Hours, Another 48 Hours

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/FortyEightHours