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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 escaped convict Albert Ganz (James Remar) 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 and would go on to inspire later movies such as Lethal Weapon and Tango & Cash. Pitting a black character against a white character and making the black guy a criminal and the white guy a cop? Not only do we have the bad guys doing bad things, we have the good guys getting in fights (in this case, not least, because of racist shit). Thanks to the comic brilliance of Eddie Murphy and the stalwart gruffness of Nick Nolte, a trope was born.

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: Sally and Casey sleep with Billy and Ganz, and are also implied to be sleeping with each other.
  • Artistic License – Prison: Many instances of this are on display during the scene where Billy helps Ganz escape the work detail. A violent criminal like Ganz wouldn't be allowed to work on a detail outside the prison, these are only open to prisoners who have committed non-violent crimes and are being held in minimum or medium security prisons. Billy would not have been permitted to approach the prisoners, a guard on perimeter duty would have intercepted him the moment he stepped out of his truck and warned him to keep well clear and state his business. Ganz would not have been allowed to stand so close to the guard holding the shotgun, guards are thoroughly trained on the importance of keeping a safe distance from the prisoners at all times.
  • Ax-Crazy: Ganz and Billy both love violence more than they love fucking. Lampshaded by a hooker early in the movie.
  • 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.
  • Better than Sex: After the shootout at the hotel, one of the hookers who was with Ganz and Billy says Ganz is going to give the police a hard time, "because I think he likes killing cops more than he likes getting laid."
  • Big Bad: Albert Ganz, an escaped criminal pursuing stolen loot.
  • Bookends: Reggie walking into an all-white bar is matched by a later scene where Jack walks into an all-black bar.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Ganz fires 13 rounds from a six-chamber Smith and Wesson Model 29 during the bus chase. He manages similar magic during the final chase.
  • 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!!
  • Catchphrase: 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, and Jack Cates' 1964 Cadillac Coupe deVille ragtop (though Reggie gives Jack grief about the latter).
  • 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 than 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.
  • Da Chief: Police Captain Haden, who never misses an opportunity to remind Cates that he's on very thin ice.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Jack and Reggie are on opposite sides of the law, but are forced to work together. Reggie starts off leading Jack to places that may potentially be helpful in achieving their goal, but it's only after their fistfight (where Jack wins) that Reggie starts to really level with Jack, get on the same page and make serious progress in tracking down Ganz and Billy.
  • Disposable Woman: Ganz holds Luther's girlfriend Rosie hostage until he gets the money. After Ganz kills Luther, she's never seen or mentioned again. Given Ganz's homicidal tendencies, it's easy to draw your own conclusion.
  • Distracting Fake Fight: Near the beginning of the film, Billy stops his truck close to a crew of prison inmates doing roadside cleanup and Ganz hurls racial slurs at him. The two soon start fighting and are soon rolling on the ground wrestling with each other. When the guards go to break them up, they produce guns that Billy had hidden under his shirt and shoot the two guards who had been guarding the work crew. The entire fight had been a trick to help Ganz escape.
  • The Dragon: Billy Bear to Ganz, as his subordinate partner-in-crime.
  • Establishing Character Music: Reggie is introduced tunelessly singing "Roxanne" by The Police.
    • Ganz and Billy introduce themselves by viciously killing two cops during a prison escape showing they're very dangerous and unscrupolous criminals.
  • Evil Plan: Albert Ganz is looking for some stolen money, and willing to kill anybody who gets between him and the loot.
  • Exact Words: Luther told Ganz not to hurt Rosalee. Unfortunately, Luther himself is fair game.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The opening of the film shows a chain gang in the middle of the desert.
  • Fanservice Extra: The near-nude cowgirl dancer at Torchy's doesn't add a thing to the plot, but no one's complaining.
  • 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.
  • Fire-Forged Friend: Jack and Reggie's relationship don't start very well at the beginning. After all one is a cop and the other's a criminal. However they start to respect each other as the movie progress.
  • Flipping the Bird: Ganz when he and Billy escape at the beginning of the film.
  • Formula with a Twist: The film marketed itself on the novel gimmick of pairing a Straight Man and Wise Guy Odd Couple from different ethnicities (Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, specifically) in an action/crime film. This led to the explosion of the Buddy cop and Wunza Plot sub-genres, especially ones partnering people of different cultures/ethnicities like Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Jack has a fractious relationship with his fellow cops. The fact that he got a fellow detective killed plays a big role.
  • Friendship Denial: Jack has this quote that comes in mind as he forms a grudging partnership with Reggie:
    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 turns this on its head with a near-verbatim Call-Back later in the film.
  • Gasoline Lasts Forever: A non-apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic example. While Jack and Reggie watch from a distance, Luther comes back to the Parking Garage where Reggie's car has been for the past two and a half years to collect it. The attendant sort of lampshades this trope when, after Luther asks how the oil and battery in the car are, he sarcastically responds that they take care of that every year.note  Not only does the car function, Luther is able to start it right up.
  • 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?" Jack replies: "Can I have my lighter back?"
  • Hand Cannon: Jack has a preference for .44 Magnum revolvers. Cherry in the sequel carries a Desert Eagle as his weapon.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Elaine calls Jack out for starting his day with an Irish coffee. Which, for some reason, he leaves at her place without taking a sip. He hates the job, he lives for the job.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Ganz and Billy both wear leather jackets. Billy also has leather pants.
  • Hero's Classic Car: Jack drives a 1964 Cadillac De Ville convertible which gets destroyed in the sequel. He liked it so much that he buys the exact same model and color with some of Reggie's money.
  • Human Shield: A variation of this trope occurs. Ganz gets Jack to drop his gun by threatening a wounded Detective Algren. 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:
    Reggie: 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:
    Reggie: We ain't brothers, we ain't partners, and we ain't friends. And if Ganz gets away with my money, you're gonna be sorry you ever met me!
    Jack: I'm already sorry.
  • It's Personal: Jack takes it very personally that Ganz has his gun, mentioning it several times throughout the movie. He tossed Ganz his gun on the premise that his fellow detective wouldn't be killed. Ganz compliments the gun and murders the guy anyway.
  • Married to the Job: As much as being a cop has clearly worn Jack down to the nub, he still dedicates himself to it. It hurts his relationship with Elaine, too.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: 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...
    Billy, you're gonna lose!
  • No Indoor Voice: Captain Haden. As Jack says to him, "Yeah, I hear you. Your voice carries!"
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Jack often refers to Reggie by racial surnames, at some points even using the "N" word. He softens up tough later, becoming more friendly and apologizes to Reggie, saying he "didn't really mean any of that stuff". Jack (towards the end of the film) even defends Reggie to his enraged Chief Haden (who himself is African-American and calls Reggie a nigger), citing his brains and courage.
  • 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's "Call for help now!".
  • The Oner: The first scene at the police station. It follows Jack for three minutes as he argues with other cops, has a punch-out, reads files, talks about suspects and walks around a really crowded space, while the camera keeps track of him.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Jack throws racial slurs at Reggie (watermelon, spear-chucker, nigger and "charcoal colored-loser"), though he does apologize later on. Reggie for his part tosses around homophobic slurs (faggot and dykes).
    • Jack Cates' boss Capt. Haden, in the course of chewing out Cates for losing Ganz and Billy again, not only calls Jack a "whisky Mick", but he also calls Reggie Hammond a nigger for good measure.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Subverted with Ganz. He uses racially-charged insults against a Native American man, provoking a fight — but it turns out the man is his crony, and the whole incident was staged to help him escape.
    • Jack and Reggie walk into a country bar with confederate racism flags all over. The bartender opens with racist taunts and the patrons call Reggie slurs and take a swing at him.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Cates to Ganz at the end of the film.
    "You're done, end of story."
  • 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 was 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 Hammond'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. Reggie uses a Smith & Wesson 19 snub nose in the first film.
  • 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 Elaine wearing Jack's blue shirt.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Where Jack wears a suit like he resents it, Reggie is stylin. Doesn't slow him down in a fight neither.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: Ganz makes a reference to Tonto in his first scene to piss Billy off.
  • A Sinister Clue: Albert Ganz is left-handed. He's also the Big Bad.
  • Stealing from Thieves: The money in Reggie's Porsche is the proceeds from when Reggie and crew robbed a drug dealer in the middle of a sale.
  • 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:
    Reggie: What's happening, Luther? I'm sorry about the door man. Did that hurt? It looked real painful when you slammed into it.
  • This Cannot Be!: Mass-murdering psychopath Ganz has a really hard time grasping and accepting the fact that Jack Cates shoots him.
  • Those Two Guys: Detective Algren and Detective Vanzant.
  • Time Title: The protagonists must track down escaped convict Albert Ganz (James Remar) within 48 hours.
  • Toyota Tripwire: Hammond does this to Luther. 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."
  • Unbuilt Trope: This is commonly viewed as the Ur-Example of a Buddy Cop Show, but it's quite different from the typical example in a few ways.
    • An increasingly common twist on the "buddy cop" formula is to have one of the "cops" not actually be a cop. This actually got its start here: Reggie Hammond is a convicted criminal on prison furlough. Not only that, but he used to be a partner to the main antagonist, Albert Ganz.
    • The movie is a good deal more violent and grim than most examples of the genre, with Reggie being the only real source of comedy. And even he has a number of moments where he's completely serious. The tone, in addition to being darker than most buddy cop films that came afterwards, is also more grounded. This can be seen in how the antagonists are portrayed, as well as the tone of the conflict against them. The bad guys are cruel and ruthless people whose crimes are portrayed with serious gravity, and their final showdown with the heroes is not some glorious action set piece, but relatively subdued, with greater emphasis placed on tension and suspense.
  • 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 Hardly Knew Ye: Algren and Vanzant have about a scene to catch their bearings before Ganz kills them.
  • What a Piece of Junk: Jack Cates' 1964 Cadillac Coupe de Ville 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. On the one hand, given Ganz's maniacal nature it's unlikely she will be seen again. On the other, she survives in the script.
  • White Bread and Black Brotha: An unbuilt example, similar to the Buddy Cop Show. While Jack Cates is a white cop and Reggie Hammond is a streetwise black criminal, Jack is a hardboiled Cowboy Cop, and the differences between the two are rarely Played for Laughs.
  • Working on the Chain Gang: Ganz at the start of the movie.
  • Wunza Plot: To quote the trailer voice-over: "Nick Nolte is a cop, Eddie Murphy is a con." They have 48 hours to Fight Crime!

Another 48 Hrs. has examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: While Reggie is riding on the bus after leaving prison he sings James Brown songs. When Eddie Murphy was a cast member of Saturday Night Live he portrayed James Brown in a number of skits.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    Jack: 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, and— [breaks bottle over a 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.
  • Hero Insurance: Reggie shoots an unarmed bar patron in the leg, right in front of a police officer (Jack), and gets away with it.
  • 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 appears in the first film as one of Jack's work buddies, yet had been a Dirty Cop all along, gets the 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 McRae'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 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.
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Ben Kehoe and Frank are revealed to be Dirty Cops. Not only that, but Ben is the Iceman.
  • 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.
  • Token Good Cop: Downplayed: Noble Bigot with a Badge Jack may not be an exceptional cop or person, but he gets Character Development and does his job diligently, while in the sequel, his fellow prominent cops are two corrupt detectives and a Smug Snake Internal Affairs investigator.
  • 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.

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