"Dirty Harry" And Zodiac

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Zodiac Media: "Dirty Harry" And Zodiac

By Joe Harris (Joe_Harris) (spider-tl041.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, February 15, 2002 - 03:50 am:

Hello, all. As I pointed out in my previous post, I'm brand new to this Message Board, so I'm still learning. I mention this again to apologize in advance if my question(s) touch on topics previously dealt with. Also, at least for now, I have nothing substantive to offer beyond speculation and seeking input from the experts here on issues that puzzle me. Thanks. So, here goes: has the final letter/message/communication from Zodiac been definitively pinpointed? One of the reasons I'm curious about the final legitimate Zodiac correspondence is I'm very curious what his thoughts were on the first "Dirty Harry" movie, which was released in 1971. Many feel the Zodiac was a movie buff, so he must have seen "Dirty Harry". The film was set in San Francisco, and the villain was very obviously based on Zodiac. Can anyone tell me of any mention of "Dirty Harry" in Zodiac correspondence? I can't help but wonder if Zodiac was flattered, or enraged by this very-thinly-veiled film, uts cult/classic status notwithstanding.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-10407-2.linkline.com - on Friday, February 15, 2002 - 05:37 pm:

These things have been discussed in past posts.It's a good idea to search them out in the archives.I know I do,periodically, and I find they are helpful in many ways.

We are missing the envelope for the'78 letter and this would help in our understanding.Tom is our document expert,in the sense that he has been able,through much effort and time, to acquire Zodiac and related documents;but as far as I know,he does not have that'78 envelope.I hope he will comment on your post.I know I would look for certain traits that I find in Zodiacs other letters,but of course,it would be for my own research. and satisfaction.Head of Questioned Documents Sherwood Morrill, declared it to be a genuine Zodiac communication,but other experts are not of that opinion.Morrill was also the top Document Expert in the state and did up to a hundred examinations a month.Worldwide ,he was considered a great Expert,but he was the number one Expert and authority on Zodiacs writing.No one,has to this day,ever come close to that expertise on Zs writing.I side with him!!

Zodiac left us with possibly two missives in '71(one of which -the 3/22/70 "Peek through the Pines"postcard sent on the one year anniversy of Johns' abduction)is in dispute-I personally feel it is a Z though and still other posters do not or have serious doubts as to its true origin)and we don't really see any references to the DH movie in those communication/s.It has been speculated that at least one or more,Zodiac letter/s and or postcards could have either been lost in th mail;or lost at the news offices.Kathleen Johns gave me a bombshell when she said that she sent a Halloween card that her abductor sent to her in 1970,to Paul Avery at the S.F.Chronicle,but in a conversation with him before his death,he denied ever getting a card!When you're dealing with the mails and corportate offices things can get lost.The Zodiac Citizen letter was mailed on May 8 '74,but did not arrive at the Chronicle till June 4 2002-just kiddin,it was in '74'! The writer says in the '78 letter:"I am waiting for a good[I believe Tom,without reference as to who was the real writer,mentioned the emphasis is on "good" here,thus refusing to the accept the DH film as a 'satisfactory' work on Z] movie about me.who will play me."Note, there is no cap(also no caps in either Caens or Toschis name,but the Z in Zodiac and the E in Editor is )in "who,""yours," and no question mark after "me."No comma after "Editor" and other pucuaction errors or omissions.The same ol' Zistakes!I believe the infamous B movie about Z came out in '81- too late for referencing.

By Sandy (Sandy) (ppp-64-175-141-3.dialup.wnck11.pacbell.net - on Friday, February 15, 2002 - 06:26 pm:

You might find the announcement I read in the S.F.Examiner on Nov.15th 94 section (425)interesting. It came from the D.H. movie, "someone" was impressed . It read: TO SCORPIO we agree,but need time to get money. Be patient. The only killer that I know of, useing the lines from the D.H. movie, was the JonBenet killer.One of the lines was: If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies. The salutation was formal, also Z like. The killer may have been a fan of the Zodiac?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta071.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, February 19, 2002 - 01:25 pm:

Actually, the line in Dirty Harry was much more eloquent than, "If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies."

To the best of my memory, the line is, "If I catch you talking to anybody, I don't care if it's a Pekingese pissing against a lamp post, the girl dies."

God I love that movie! I don't care what anyone says, that film addresses a number of social and political issues and is very deserving of its status as a "classic" film. A much deeper film than you would think. "Arnie" has been trying to surpass DH's mark of excellence for years and hasn't even come close (though Collateral Damage is a surprisingly good film) in terms of "relevance beyond entertainment value."

Just some thoughts.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-18-187.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, February 19, 2002 - 02:45 pm:


Right you are:

and I quote

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc083.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, February 19, 2002 - 04:01 pm:


That's very cool!

By Mike_D (Mike_D) (spider-th013.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, February 19, 2002 - 07:50 pm:

Actually Howard the "Zodiak Killer"movie came out in 71 same as DH.I think it was some strange typo on Graysmith's part that caused the confusion.Or else HE 1st saw it in '81!All other sources I've seen say 71.(When else could you have a production company called The Awareness People!)
I always took the line from the 78 letter
"i'm waiting for a good film about me"to be a slam at this clunker of a film but I guess that letters a hoax.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb491ad.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, February 19, 2002 - 10:13 pm:

Mike: I think it was a typo in Zodiac. The dates before and after indicate it was 1971.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-td032.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, February 19, 2002 - 10:54 pm:

Isn't the film that Graysmith refers to on page 179 entitled, The Zodiak Killer*? I think so, anyway. Yes, it did hit ONE screen at a town near nobody (unless you live in the Bay area) back in '71. Isn't Paul Avery in that little epic as well? A cameo part? The date has to be a typo in the book.

I'll bet the budget on this little gem of a picture was, I don't know, say $200.00 and a cooler full of spam sandwiches? After all, they did have to purchase and develop all the film and feed the cast and crew, right?

* That's right, with a K, not a C.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb491ad.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, February 20, 2002 - 01:04 am:

Is that the right page, Scott? And you're right, it probably cost a grand total of $200 to produce. Avery was billed as a consultant, although I doubt he had much to do with it other than the blurb attributed to him at the very beginning. It was "conceived in June 1970", and since it hit the one screen in April 1971, it's production was obviously poor and rushed. I think it started on April 6th, and apparently lasted one week. There was also a writeup ("Now a Movie 'Zodiac'", SF Chronicle, 4-9-1971, p. 41), and it says:

A minimum budget film, a movie disguised as a warning, sneaked quietly into the Golden Gate this week. Called "Zodiac," it is unpretentious and inexpert.

<Ahem>. The bit where Graysmith says, "The film ends by hinting that Zodiac may be the man behind you in the theater," (Zodiac, p. 179), is actually at the very beginning, and speaks of murderers in general, not specifically about Z.

By obiwan (Obiwan) (ciw2.ciw.edu - on Wednesday, February 20, 2002 - 05:39 pm:

Its at IMDB:


By Mike_D (Mike_D) (spider-wp034.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, February 20, 2002 - 08:52 pm:

I'll have to admit the actor who played Zodiac did a good job though.I suspect the real Z may have been someone like him-a milqetoastish "nice guy"scarcely noticed by the world around him...

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb6a4ca.ipt.aol.com - on Sunday, February 24, 2002 - 12:01 am:

Believe it or not, I just saw Dirty Harry for the first time a couple of weeks ago! After the first few minutes, I didn't think it really resembled the Z case at all, it went off on a tangent and became something completely different. If the 1978 letter is genuine, the implication of "I am waiting for a good movie about me" sounds like Z might not have considered Dirty Harry to be a good movie (maybe he didn't like Scorpio getting killed at the end). Since it was good, maybe Z was referring to the 1971 The Zodiac Killer, which was terrible. If so, he really would have hated Disguised Killer, a 2000 short with a (mostly) Filipino cast.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p112.as1.clonmel1.eircom.net - on Sunday, February 24, 2002 - 04:08 am:

Mike wrote;- "I'll have to admit the actor who played Zodiac did a goo job though"
The actor,Andy Robinson(I think), did such a good job that Clint Eastwood refused to work with him again.He felt if there were seen together in another film that it would somehow "take" credibility from the original performance.
Kinda defeated the purpose for Robinson, don't you think?
Apologies if I got off topic.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta052.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, February 24, 2002 - 12:21 pm:


You're right, Andrew Robinson did a wonderful job in Dirty Harry. It wouldn't surprise me at all to discover that Z had similar traits.


You just saw DH a couple of weeks ago?! Oh well, that's cool. You wrote, "After the first few minutes, I didn't think it really resembled the Z case at all, it went off on a tangent and became something completely different."

I think the idea that Dirty Harry, the film, was based on Zodiac is a myth perpetuated by Graysmith. The film itself is obviously NOT about the Zodiac; it's about Harry Callahan, a fictional character that was created as a vehicle role for the young and charasmatic Eastwood. However, when the writers set out to create a perfect antagonist for Harry, they DID base him on the Zodiac; hence his name, Scorpio. William Peter Blatty did the same thing in Legion, his excellent sequel to The Exorcist. The serial killer in that book was called, The Gemini Killer (in filmland, this was the third film, Exorcist 3).

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the movie, Dirty Harry, is not based on the Zodiac case other than certain aspects of Scorpio, the villian.

Lapumo, you wrote, "Kinda defeated the purpose for Robinson, don't you think?"

I don't think that Robinson has done too bad for himself though, obviously, not to the degree of Eastwood! He did an excellent job in Clive Barker's Hellraiser, for example. If I'm not mistaken, I believe Robinson does a lot of stage work; something that many actors prefer to do rather than movies.


By Classic (Classic) (spider-tr011.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, February 24, 2002 - 01:22 pm:

FYI. Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman, John Wayne and Charlton Heston were offered the role of Dirty Harry before it got to Eastwood. Burt Reynolds????Can't imagine DH with Burt's famous laugh. Classic

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (pdx-cfi-90.navi.net - on Sunday, February 24, 2002 - 02:31 pm:

Frank Sinatra was set to play Harry, but he injured his wrist. You can see a movie poster with Frank as Dirty Harry at www.the-dirtiest.com, however the site appears to be down.

By Mike_D (Mike_D) (spider-mtc-tf053.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, February 24, 2002 - 06:04 pm:

Andy Robinson was great as Scorpio just thought
the other guy was more like what we know real life serial killers to be-quiet and unmemorable in their day-to-day lives.If "Scorpio" was real I don't think he'd have lasted ten minutes!.
Incidently Andy Robinson also did a fine job on Star Trek:Deep Space Nine as Garreck the creepy
Cardassian defector.Bet ya didn't recognize him
under that bony forehead!

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb726d3.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, February 25, 2002 - 12:22 am:

Scott: I think you're right, because that's the only resemblance to Z that I saw. Z must therefore have been referring to the 1971 movie (if that letter was genuine).

BTW, if anyone wants Andy Robinson's autograph and they're in the LA area next month, he's slated to appear at the Grand Slam Star Trek Convention in Pasadena on March 24th (he won't have only DS9 pics to sign, he had at least one of Scorpio aiming his rifle from a rooftop last time).

Classic: just a few years before Dirty Harry, Burt Reynolds had a guest role on Gentle Ben. Bet that's one thing he wants to forget about...

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc034.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, February 25, 2002 - 03:07 am:

Classic, Tom,

Yes, you fellas are right! I'd forgotten that the role had been offered to so many other actors. I guess I just can't see anyone else playing the part except good ol' Clint. Can you imagine if the film had starred Sinatra and had been filmed as a musical? Imagine the lines, "I know what you're thinkin', punk. You're thinkin', 'Did he fire six shots, or only five?' Well, to tell ya the truth, I kinda lost track myself in all this excitement . . ." set to music! Now, that would be something! Nevertheless, the film was never really about Zodiac, know what I mean?


By Joe Harris (Joe_Harris) (spider-mtc-tg043.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, February 25, 2002 - 12:25 pm:

In the same vein, though it has nothing to do with Zodiac, it's still fun...Among many other film roles, Andrew Robinson played the by-the-book superior officer who was constantly at odds with that noted thespian, Sylvester Stallone, in "Cobra", another film about a serial killer. More important, though, Andrew Robinson's father was Edward G. Robinson.

It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it.

By Curt (Curt) ( on Thursday, March 28, 2002 - 11:42 am:

Tom Voigt wrote, "Frank Sinatra was set to play Harry, but he injured his wrist. You can see a movie poster with Frank as Dirty Harry at www.the-dirtiest.com, however the site appears to be down.

No, the site is still up and there are some great factoids about Dirty Harry to be found there. For example, check out what the site has to say about the Scorpio character from the film:

Scorpio-- The character was based on the Zodiac Killer, who terrorized San Francisco in the late sixties and was never caught. He once sent the city a note threatening to hijack and kill a busload of schoolchildren, which is where the inspiration for Scorpio's similar feat originated.

Audie Murphy was first approached to play Scorpio. He was killed in a plane crash in 1971, before his decision on the role was known.

Andrew Robinson was apparently a little too convincing as the mad killer, Scorpio. He received death threats after the film's release and eventually had to get an unlisted phone number. He also found trouble getting in to auditions- many producers really thought he was crazy.

Look carefully at Scorpio's outfit, and you'll notice a peace symbol belt buckle. While the press had their own interpretation of this, Siegel's explanation of it was simply, "It reminds us that no matter how vicious a person is, when he looks in the mirror he is still blind to what he truly is".

The original draft had Scorpio meeting his end at the hands of a sharpshooter- not Dirty Harry

The Z Files

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc1a9fd.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, March 28, 2002 - 06:39 pm:

I saw Andrew Robinson on Sunday at the Star Trek convention. He's a great guy in person, and had a lot of stories to tell about his career, including Dirty Harry. However, Scorpio didn't hurt his career much, as he ended up playing Garak on Deep Space Nine for seven years. He was also in Hellraiser and played Liberace in a TV movie or miniseries some years back, among other things. He did say that he rather enjoyed doing horror, and would like to do more...

Upon reflection, I think anyone else but Clint Eastwood would have been miscast as Harry Callahan.

By Curt (Curt) (1cust131.tnt2.seattle2.wa.da.uu.net - on Thursday, March 28, 2002 - 08:41 pm:

I'm still trying to imagine Audie Murphy being cast as Scorpio! Man, what a departure that role would have been for him.

I have always loved the Dirty Harry series of movies and couldn't imagine anyone else in the major roles, especially Eastwood and Robinson.

BTW Ed N, cool that you got to meet him (Robinson) at the ST convention.


By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc2201d.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, March 28, 2002 - 11:37 pm:

I believe I have gotten at least two autographs from him over the years... and his daughter too (she was on one DS9 episode).

By Jim (Jim) (216-102-77-163.scoe.org - on Friday, April 19, 2002 - 11:38 am:

man did Robinson play a great kook! of course Eastwood was perfect for the part. I had always understood that the character was loosely based upon the Z. the letter in the movie was indicative of that I would think. the challenge of the police and the taunting too wouyld fit the description, right?

By Mike_D (Mike_D) (spider-wi013.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, April 20, 2002 - 11:56 am:

One odd thing stuck out:Scorpio seemed to have an angst against minorities,gays,and females.Everyone he targets comes from these groups.He even uses the dreaded "N" word and I don't mean Napa.
While he may have been a tad misogynist theres NO
indication of the real life Zodiac having a ultra-rightwing or racial agenda as i think they were implying Scorpio had.Odd too an older actor Audie Murphy -a bona fide war hero in real life -was envisioned originially for the part.
When DH came out it was bashed for being rightwing by liberal critics.Seeing it again recently I came away thinking it's message quite Left of center-beware of angry,lowincome whitemen/with guns and trust in the power of government to protect you.Comrade Harry wil protect you in the interest of the state.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acbe5c36.ipt.aol.com - on Saturday, April 20, 2002 - 10:39 pm:

I think Harry Callahan was more interested in shooting his hand cannon and killing the bad guys than anything else. I mean, how many other jobs are there where you can legally shoot people???

By Mike_D (Mike_D) (spider-to032.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, April 21, 2002 - 01:12 pm:

Good work if you can get it.