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Author Topic: Motorcycles in Coogan's Bluff  (Read 8977 times)
The Man With No Aim
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« on: December 27, 2013, 12:18:33 AM »

Coogans Bluff.

A delightful combination of a romantic comedy and a darkly dramatic action film.

I got onto it to research exactly what kind of motorcycle Clint/Coogan rides in the chase scene at the end of the film. As I suspected, it is a Triumph TR6. Bad Guy is on a strange beast that is obviously a Triumph Bonny but has an add on instrument where the speedometer spoze to be on a TR6 or a TR7. The TR6 had clamp on instruments, tachometer on the left, speedo on the right. The TR7 had the same. The Bonny had a speedo inset into the headlight nacelle and NO tachometer. The Bad Guy motocycle had a clamp on instrument ON THE RIGHT. The Clint/Coogan motocycle had twin clamp ons and the tank colors proper for a early 60s TR6. The Bad Guy motocycle had obvious twin carburetors and air filter housings and tank colors proper for early 60s Bonny/TR7. And The Bad Guy motocycle had the ubiquitous hard starting/restarting of the twin carb TR7/Bonny. My old 58 TR6 had the typical one kick easy starting while my best old friend Ray's TR7 had the very difficult many kick no starting that was typical. I know from personal experience back in the day.  ;)

Does anybody know, from interviews or whatever, if Clint rode a motorcycle and maybe even did the stunt riding in this film? We know he rode hosses. 8)

This film is a great period piece from capturing the true gritty grime easily found in Noo Yonk City as well as the fabulous historic architectural features. And it is a really good showcase for the range of acting skills and star qualities of the early C E.
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KC
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2013, 01:21:59 AM »

Does anybody know, from interviews or whatever, if Clint rode a motorcycle and maybe even did the stunt riding in this film? We know he rode hosses. 8)

Indeed he did ... along with the camera operator and future DP, Bruce Surtees. From an interview in Cahiers du cinéma, February 1985 (interviewers Olivier Assayas and Charles Tesson):

Quote
He [Surtees] was the camera operator on Coogan’s Bluff. We did a bunch of crazy things back then, for instance I went down a staircase on a motorcycle and he was seated behind me, secured by a system of straps, so he could shoot me.

That is my translation, but this bit of the interview was also translated and published in Clint Eastwood/Malpaso by Fuensanta Plaza (page 10). (I mentioned the Plaza book recently in another thread. There's lots of behind-the-scenes stuff there on each of the "Malpaso" films it covers, including extensive interview material with Eastwood's co-workers.)

Then there is this, from Don Siegel's memoir, A Siegel Film (pages 310-311):

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The weather was becoming bitterly cold. Snow was around the corner. I figured I'd better get the big motorcycle chase, where Coogan pursues Ringerman, before a big blizzard wiped us thin-blooded Californians off the face of New York State.

There was already frost on the ground. What made the chase particularly hazardous were the leaves on the ground and pathways, which were extremely slippery. Luckily, Clint was an expert motorcyclist. But Don Stroud, a surfing champion from Hawaii playing Ringerman, had never ridden a motorcycle. We had two racing champions to train Stroud and to ride the motorcycles. They took great risks. Our camera operator, Bruce Surtees, wearing a World War I aviator's leather jacket and leather headgear, sat backwards on the motorbike holding a hand-held camera, an Arriflex 2C, on the pursuing Clint or the escaping Stroud. When we followed at high speed, either Clint or Stroud, or the two of them together, the stunt drivers would wear an Eymo, a very light camera, fitted tightly to camera helmets on their heads, the lens pointed forward. With cold, blustery winds sweeping in from the Hudson River, the miracle was that no one got hurt. There were plenty of hairy skids and scary falls, but no blood. I wore out my crossed fingers.
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davytriumph
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2013, 06:26:37 AM »

Ringermans bike is undoubtedly a 1967 T100R Daytona 500cc. (no finned rocker boxes covers and twin carbs) and  Coogans bike is, as you say, a 1967 Trophy TR6 (finned rocker boxes and a single carb.)  TR7s were not produced till after 1973.

Great film that inspired me to become a collector of Classic Triumphs from the 60s and 70s, including the two models from this film (replicas)

Good to know you are a man of fine taste MWNA  ;)
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The Man With No Aim
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2013, 08:29:09 PM »


Quote  KC
   " He [Surtees] was the camera operator on Coogan’s Bluff. We did a bunch of crazy things back then, for instance I went down a staircase on a motorcycle and he was seated behind me, secured by a system of straps, so he could shoot me."



In that era there was a successful professional motorcycle racer named Surtees I seem to remember. You dont suppose they were related, maybe brothers?   
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2013, 09:22:09 PM »

I doubt it. Bruce Surtees was the son of an Oscar-winning cinematographer, Robert Surtees, though he never won an Oscar himself.

You're probably thinking of John Surtees, who is British. If they're connected, it would have to be a few generations back.

They are/were about the same age. Bruce, who died last year, was born in 1937, John in 1934.

But we've strayed rather far off topic here! ;)
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The Man With No Aim
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2013, 09:32:04 PM »

Ringermans bike is undoubtedly a 1967 T100R Daytona 500cc. (no finned rocker boxes covers and twin carbs) and  Coogans bike is, as you say, a 1967 Trophy TR6 (finned rocker boxes and a single carb.)  TR7s were not produced till after 1973.

Great film that inspired me to become a collector of Classic Triumphs from the 60s and 70s, including the two models from this film (replicas)

Good to know you are a man of fine taste MWNA  ;)


Thank you for the reliable information! I was working from memory.

Im a worn out old man with a old worn out memory.

My Triumph reference books have ran under something and are hiding from me.

My squirrels invaded down through the roof and ate my classic motorcycle notes (no dog).

Huh...only 3 excuses allowed? OK.

I was guessing at the milleau of the film by the model years of the cop cars, guessing about 62 or so. (please see above 3 excuses) And I was trying to remember the factory designation of the sport model of the twin carb 650 motorcycle  in 59 or 60, the era of my personal experience data base. And I have never gotten completely clear on the official designations of the US models in the first place. I think that in UK the twin carb model was called the Bonneville and had the Thunderbird headlight shell with a speedo and had no tach anywhere. And I was thinking that only the sport model was imported into the US, essentially a TR6 with the Bonneville twin carb motor, having the TR6 tach and speedo, and was officially called TR7. (However all my contemporary motorcycle-michaels called them Bonnevilles).

I am genuinely glad to converse with an Triumph afficianado who has done more, and, more accurate, study of those wonderful old bikes. My ride had aftermarket cams with a really obvious lope and an overdrive ratio sprocket, one more tooth than standard, which gave it less RPM for a given speed. It would give me 0 to 60 in 5 seconds and on its best outing 105 and 14 flat in the quarter. And it amazed me by going 70 and 71 completely flat in low gear the 2 times I tested low gear (not tucked) . 9,000 RPM both times. wink wink.  The TR6 was also called a Tiger 120 or something like that, the number in those days being the speed that a factory stock bike would be expected to provide in a flying mile top speed run. My old Trumpet gave me only 118 the only time I ever ran it on top. Tucked in neatly but not laying flat in a Speedo like Rollie Free on his Vincent. Afterward my best old friend Ray told me most guys went faster on top in 3rd than in top gear  ::) like I had done. Great bike, solid as a rock at 118.

Me and old best friend Ray performed a number of comparative acceleration science experiments and we were dead equal, my cammed up TR6 versus his stock Bonny/TRsomething. He decided to buy a triumph after we swapped rides one night, him on my Trumpet and me on his stock touring model Enfield Indian. His Indian accelerated smoothly, was nice and quiet and had a soft ride. He joined the Marines so he could get the pay to buy his Bonny.

So it agrees with my personal experience that a 60s something TR6 could outrun a 60s something Bonny, just like in a Clint Eastwood movie.
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The Man With No Aim
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2013, 10:46:49 PM »

I doubt it. Bruce Surtees was the son of an Oscar-winning cinematographer, Robert Surtees, though he never won an Oscar himself.

You're probably thinking of John Surtees, who is British. If they're connected, it would have to be a few generations back.

They are/were about the same age. Bruce, who died last year, was born in 1937, John in 1934.

But we've strayed rather far off topic here! ;)


Maybe, maybe not.

It has now been established that Clint was a expert motorcycle rider at the time of Coogans Bluff.

And we now know, thanks to KC excellent helpfulness, that not only was Clint a good rider, but actually did the riding in the movie.

It was of direct logical curiosity whether the camera Surtees had a connection with the Professional racer Surtees and therefore racer Surtees might have had something to do with Clint rider skill.

And furthermore, with Clint being such a role model icon, it should be interesting to understand just what the physical parameters are to be on a high performance motorcycle being ridden at full blast. It aint a tip-toe through the tulips. It is fast and furious and dangerous and it is interesting to learn just what a movie icon was enduring to give us some grand entertainment.

I guarantee you, from personal experience, that watching a movie of fast moving high performance motorcycles gives a viewer only a fraction of the experience that actually being on one gives to you. 
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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2013, 11:48:20 PM »

^ The above seven posts were originally in the "What was the last Eastwood film you watched?" thread (so Coogan's Bluff was The Man With No Aim's most recently viewed Eastwood film). The discussion about motorcycles in the film got so interesting that the Mods thought it was worthy of being separated out into a thread of its own.

Maybe other motorcycle buffs browsing this site will be moved to join in.  8)
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Whistledixie
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2013, 06:24:36 AM »

Didn't find mention of a Bruce and John Surtees connection, though did see this in Bruce Surtees' NYTimes obit:

Besides his wife, the former Carol Buby, whom he married in 1979 in Seoul while on location for “Inchon” (1981), directed by Terence Young and starring Laurence Olivier, he is survived by a daughter from his first marriage, Suzanne Surtees; a brother, Tom; and a sister, Nancy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/arts/bruce-surtees-oscar-nominated-cinematographer-dies-at-74.html
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The Man With No Aim
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2013, 01:31:22 AM »

Thanks WD. Reckon that deflates the balloon about a racer-Surtees connection with ecpert biker Eastwood.

I first noticed the expert riding about halfway through the chase when Coogan makes an abrupt left turn and his moto begins to spin out. Very quickly the rider sticks down his left foot to prop up himself and stop the spinout. That is really good non-amateur riding.

The whole chase would have been done in low gear, with Bad Guy verbatim running for his life, and Coogan acting upon a frenzied obsession to Stop The Crook. The Bad Guy would not have done any less than use the maximum acceleration he could get, and the short straightaways on the chase path would have limited the top speed at any point to maybe 50 MPH, just about optimal for a factory stock TR6 or a Bonnyish TR Something. A TR6 or Bonnyish TR Something had a FIERCE acceleration in low gear, substantially comparable in its maximal range to any production superbike of the present day.

We can rightfully admire the skill and courage of both actors who rode those motorcycles to give us our greatly enjoyed entertainment.

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