Turner & Hooch is a 1989 American buddy cop comedy film starring Tom Hanks and Beasley the Dog as the eponymous characters respectively. The film also co-stars Mare Winningham, Craig T. Nelson and Reginald VelJohnson. It was directed by Roger Spottiswoode; the film was originally slated to be directed by Henry Winkler, but he was terminated because of his “creative differences”. It was co-written and executive produced by Daniel Petrie Jr. of Beverly Hills Cop fame.
The similarly plotted K-9 (with James Belushi) was released three months earlier. A pilot for a Turner & Hooch television series, starring Thomas F. Wilson and Beasley the Dog, was made and ran as a part of The Magical World of Disney.
Touchstone Pictures acquired the screenplay for Turner & Hooch for $1 million, which was the highest price ever paid by Touchstone for any script at the time.
Scott Turner is a highly studious and obsessively well-ordered police investigator for the small northern California town of Cypress Beach. Bored with the lack of serious crime with his current work, Turner is set to transfer to a much better position in Sacramento, leaving fellow investigator David Sutton to replace him. Turner shows David around in the three days left before his transfer, meeting with long time friend Amos Reed for a final time. The two investigators are then called to the discovery of $8,000 found at the local beach – an unusual discovery for such a quiet community. That same evening, Amos is murdered by an affiliate of local seafoodmagnate Walter Boyett when Amos reveals his suspicions of Boyett’s operations. Turner is alerted to the crime the following morning, ultimately resulting in Scott hesitantly taking in Hooch, Amos’ pet Dogue de Bordeaux. Scott immediately takes Hooch to the new town veterinarian Emily Carson. Scott pleads with Emily to take in Hooch as he has no experience of handling such an animal before. However, Emily insists that Hooch will be good for Scott, who lives alone.
Immediately returning home however, Hooch’s noisy, destructive nature clashes intensely with Scott’s tightly tuned routine and lifestyle. Scott leaves Hooch alone one night to buy dog food, only to return to a home that has been completely ransacked by Hooch unintentionally. Furious, Scott kicks Hooch out, only for him to return later with Emily’s female dog, Camille. Seeing an opportunity to get rid of Hooch, Scott drives both Hooch and Camille back to the veterinary clinic, only to be caught by Emily as he leaves. Emily invites Scott inside, and the two proceed to continue painting the house that Emily earlier abandoned for the night. Scott leaves later on and although he expresses his lack of interest in taking things further with Emily, it becomes clear that the two are starting to like each other.
Scott takes Hooch to the Police Precinct the next day, where a wedding occurs just across the street. Hooch identifies the wedding photographer as Amos’ killer and gives chase, almost taking Scott’s desk with him. The murderer is able to escape from his pursuers, but Scott is able to identify the killer as Zack Gregory, a former Marine with several prior arrests who also fits the profile of Amos’ killing (Scott had earlier speculated that Amos’ murderer must have had special experience in killing as the stab wound performed on Amos ensured total discretion). Scott also speculates that Amos wasn’t murdered in a robbery attempt, but in order for Zack to cover up an illegal operation near to where he lived. This theory matches with Amos’ regular complaints to Scott about the noises he heard going on at Boyett Seafood, the company that has Zack registered as an employee.
Celebrating the approval to search Boyett Seafood, Scott treats Hooch but notices his refusal to eat. Scott consideres this a consequence of Amos’ death, the long term owner and presumably, only companion to Hooch. Scott and Hooch start to establish a closer bond. The next day, the police search Boyett Seafood but find no evidence of any illegal activity. With his transfer pending the following day, Scott is relieved of jurisdiction of the case, which is given to David by Police Chief Howard Hyde. Frustrated with reaching a dead end in the case, Scott meets with Emily, leading the two to spend the night together. In a eureka moment, Scott finally realises why the earlier search of Boyett Seafood turned up nothing – instead of searching for imports, Boyett Seafood was actually exporting goods. Armed with this new lead, Scott takes Hooch back to the factory to stake-out. The following morning, David arrives upon Scott’s request with the earlier recovered $8,000 from the beach. On a hunch, Scott commands Hooch to trace the scent of the money to anything he can find within the factory, ultimately returning with the exact type of bag the wad was discovered in.
Scott travels to the Lazy Acres Motel, the false address at which Zack Gregory was listed as a tenant. Scott interrogates the Motel owner into revealing where Zack is, only to be held up at gunpoint by him moments later. Zack orders Scott into his car to drive away, but Scott crashes the Cadillac into a concrete barrier, propelling Zack through the windshield and pinning him down by the neck, while assistance is provided by Hooch. Scott interrogates Zack, who reveals that he killed Amos, and also reveals that Walter Boyett is in on the illegal money trade going on at his factory, but is not in charge of it, to Scott’s surprise. Scott returns with Hooch to the factory, and is unexpectedly joined by Chief Hyde. Already suspicious of Zack’s earlier confession, Scott confronts Hyde, believing him to be in charge of the money laundering operation at the docks, using the gigantic ice cubes to cover the wads of cash being sent out of the country. A firefight soon occurs between Scott on the one hand and Hyde and Boyett on the other. Hooch is able to ambush Boyett from above, although Boyett shoots Hooch in the process. Confronting Hyde, Scott is initially coerced by the corrupt Police Chief to frame Boyett, who is subsequently killed by Hyde. However, Hyde knows that Scott is an entirely honest police officer, and calls his bluff. A wounded Hooch manages to get up, and briefly distract Hyde long enough for Scott to kill him.
Realizing Hooch’s wound, Scott races to Emily’s clinic to save his life. However, Hooch, who lost a lot of blood, dies on the operating table, with a tearful Scott and Emily in audience. During the aftermath, Turner is made police chief while Sutton becomes leading investigator. Turner also marries Emily, with the couple now caring for Camille and her litter of puppies, one of whom looks and acts exactly like Hooch.
- Tom Hanks as Detective Scott Turner
- Beasley the Dog as Hooch
- Mare Winningham as Dr. Emily Carson
- Craig T. Nelson as Chief Howard Hyde
- Reginald VelJohnson as Det. David Sutton
- Scott Paulin as Zack Gregory
- J. C. Quinn as Walter Boyett
- John McIntire as Amos Reed
- David Knell as Ernie
- Ebbe Roe Smith as Harley McCabe
- Kevin Scannell as Jeff Foster
- Joel Bailey as Ferraday
- Mary McCusker as Katie
- Ernie Lively as Motel Clerk
- Clyde Kusatsu as Kevin Williams
- Elaine Renee Bush as Store Clerk
- Eda Reiss Merin as Mrs. Remington
Hooch’s real name was Beasley, and he was a Dogue de Bordeaux (French mastiff), a French breed of work dog developed in the 15th century. Beasley was born on a dog kennel in Merrimac, Wisconsin owned by Peter Curley. Beasley was later purchased along with three other dogs for production of the film and were trained by Clint Rowe, who makes a brief appearance in the film as an ASPCA officer. Beasley died in 1992, aged 14. Animal Makers created an exact replica of Hooch for the famous death scene. Beasley also had a stunt double by the name of Igor.
Henry Winkler was the original director, Winker was fired thirteen days into production by studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, according to Winkler on the October 10, 2012 edition of The Howard Stern Show. Winkler said of his firing from directing the film, “Let’s just say I got along better with Hooch than I did with Turner.”
Many scenes were filmed on location in Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Moss Landing, California. “Cypress Beach” is fictional, using mostly Pacific Grove for shots such as the police department, the wedding foot chase, and the car chase down Ocean View Ave.
Turner & Hooch gained a mixed response from critics, with a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 27 reviews, but it was a box office success. No plans remain for a sequel despite its revived popularity following Hanks’ rise to success.
NBC did a television pilot based on the film in 1990. It aired in the summer with another dog pilot, “Poochinski” under the banner, “Two Dog Night”.
Turner & Hooch has been referred to in various films and television shows, including the NBC/ABC medical sitcom Scrubs, in which main characters J.D. and Turk modify shift schedules so that Doctors Turner and Hooch are teamed up as a surgical team in the episode “My Faith in Humanity” (Doctor Turner was played by Jim Hanks, Tom Hanks’ brother). They actually make a good team, and are disappointed when they have to disband. Another episode has Turk offended at JD’s assumption that Turner and Hooch was an interracial buddy movie, an assumption made based on the aforementioned Hooch. In the second season of Castle, Beckett and Castle compare themselves to Turner and Hooch, with Castle being Hooch. This comparison returned in the Castle season 7 episode “Kill Switch”.
During an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, O’Brien gave Tom Hanks a preserved dog skeleton, claiming it was his old friend Hooch. As one of O’Brien’s first guests on The Tonight Show, Hanks improvised a song from an alleged Turner & Hooch stage musical. During the 2006 Academy Awards, Tom Hanks played in a sketch about acceptance speeches that ran on too long. In his comedic lengthy speech, he thanked Hooch.
The 2014 Tamil film Naaigal Jaakirathai is based on this film.
In April 2015, it was reported that Christine Turner Wagner, widow of producer Raymond Wagner, and Richard Dreyfuss have sued The Walt Disney Company over profits from Turner & Hooch and What About Bob? (1991), another Touchstone release which Dreyfuss starred in. The plaintiffs have claimed that Disney has refused to hire their chosen auditor, Robinson and Co.