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48 Hrs. is a 1982 American action comedy film directed by Walter Hill, starring Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy as a cop and convict, respectively, who team up to catch a cop-killer. The title refers to the amount of time they have to solve the crime. This was Murphy's film debut (in a Golden Globe Award-nominated role), and Joel Silver's first film as a film producer. The screenplay was written by Hill, Roger SpottiswoodeLarry GrossSteven E. de Souza, and Jeb Stuart.

It is often credited as being the first film in the "buddy cop" genre, which included the subsequent films Beverly Hills CopLethal Weapon, and Rush Hour. The film spawned a 1990 sequel, Another 48 Hrs.


 [hide*1 Plot


Convicted thief Albert Ganz (James Remar) is working as part of a road gang in California, when a big Native American man named Billy Bear (Sonny Landham) drives up in a pickup truck and asks for water to cool off his truck’s overheating radiator.

Ganz and Billy exchange insults and proceed to stage a fight with each other, wrestling in a river, and when the guards try to break up the fight, Billy slips a gun to Ganz, and Billy and Ganz kill two of the three guards and flee the scene. Two days later, Ganz and Billy kill Henry Wong (John Hauk), who was one of their partners.

Later that same day, San Francisco cop Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) joins two of his friends and co-workers—Detective Algren (Jonathan Banks) and Detective VanZant (James Keane) -- at the Walden Hotel to check out a man named G.P. Polson, who is in room 27. It is a way of finding the thief who stole Polson's credit cards and used one of them to check into the hotel.

Jack waits downstairs while Algren and VanZant head to room 27, where it turns out that the thief is Ganz. Ganz immediately kills VanZant, and shoots Algren, while Billy attends to some other business in the room next door to room 27.

Jack hears the shots and rushes upstairs, where Algren tells him to go downstairs and find Ganz and Billy. Jack confronts Ganz and Billy downstairs. When Algren makes it downstairs, Ganz takes Jack's .44 revolver and uses it to kill Algren, and then Ganz and Billy escape with Jack's gun.

The police station issues Jack a new gun, a Colt 1911 .45, and fellow cop Ben Kehoe (Brion James) tells Jack about Ganz's former partner Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), who is in prison with 6 months to go on a three-year sentence for armed robbery. Jack tells his boss, Haden (Frank McRae), that he wants to work alone in the search for Ganz, and then Jack visits Reggie at the prison.

Jack gets Reggie a 48 hour leave from the prison so Reggie can help Jack find Ganz and Billy. Reggie leads Jack to an apartment that Ganz's last remaining partner, Luther (David Patrick Kelly), lives in.

Jack and Reggie do not know that a few days ago, Ganz and Billy kidnapped Luther's girlfriend Rosalie (Kerry Sherman). When Jack steps inside Luther's apartment and starts looking around, Luther runs upstairs to the apartment and fires a shot at Jack.

Jack chases Luther to Jack's car, where Reggie is handcuffed to the steering wheel. After getting nothing out of Luther, Jack puts Luther in jail. That night, Reggie leads Jack to Torchy's, a redneck hangout where Billy used to be a bartender.

Reggie, on a challenge from Jack, shakes the bar down in a famous scene, single-handedly bringing the crowd under his control. They get a lead on Billy's old girlfriend, but this also leads nowhere, as the girlfriend says she threw Billy out. Jack, frustrated to the boiling point, lets loose on Reggie and they get into a relentless but ridiculous fistfight.

Reggie finally tells Jack about the $500,000, stashed in the trunk of his car, the spoils of a drug deal gone bad when Ganz apparently sold Reggie out. The money is in the trunk of Reggie's car, parked in a garage for three years. It was also the prime reason why Ganz & Billy took Luther's girlfriend: they wanted Luther to get Reggie's money in exchange for her return to him.

Luther goes and gets the car, and Jack and Reggie tail him to a Muni station where Ganz comes to get the money. Luther, however, recognizes Jack, and Ganz and Billy escape, while Reggie chases after Luther.

Left with nothing, Jack ends up sitting at the station waiting for Reggie to call. Kehoe, about to leave, reminds Jack about a message from "your pal from the vice squad."

Jack goes to Vroman's, in the Fillmore district, to find Reggie, who has tracked Luther to a hotel across the street. Jack, humbled, apologizes for continuously berating and insulting Reggie. He lends Reggie some money to pay for a hotel room, but when Reggie leaves to fool around with a girl he's met, he sees Luther leave the hotel.

Luther gets onto a stolen bus driven by Billy and hands over the money to Ganz. Luther asks if Rosalie is okay. Ganz reminds Luther that he promised that he would not hurt her, then shoots Luther. What happens to Rosalie is left ambiguous. Ganz spots Jack and Reggie following them, and a car chase/gunfight ensues, which ends when Billy forces Jack's Cadillac through the window of a Cadillac showroom. At this point following a heated verbal thrashing from Jack's boss Haden, Jack and Reggie are ready to resign themselves to the fact that they failed to catch Ganz.

At a local bar before Reggie goes back to prison, Jack wonders if Billy might go back to see his girl and use her place as a hideout. It turns out that Billy did.

Jack and Reggie force their way inside and after a brief confrontation Reggie shoots Billy. Ganz escapes into a maze of alleyways, capturing Reggie. Jack approaches and shoots Ganz, throwing him off Reggie, then finishes him off by shooting him repeatedly. Reggie is almost shocked by Jack's stone face and lack of feeling killing another man.

Finally, Jack takes Reggie to go fool around with the girl he had been chasing. They agree to meet again when Reggie gets out of San Quentin in six months. Jack leaves the money in Reggie's car, but asks for a loan on another Cadillac when he gets out. Reggie insists to Jack that he will be an honest man going forward. Jack seems to accept this, and Jack takes Reggie back to prison.



Lawrence Gordon came up with the original idea for the film.[3] The premise had the Governor of Louisiana's daughter kidnapped by a criminal, who strapped dynamite to her head and threatened to blow her up in 48 hours if the ransom was not met. The meanest cop goes to the worst prison in the state and gets out the most vicious criminal for his knowledge of the kidnapper who was his cellmate. Roger Spottiswoode was hired and he wrote the early drafts as did Bill Kerby. The project started at Columbia Pictures and moved to Paramount Pictures. At one point, even Walter Hill wrote a draft.[3]

Clint Eastwood was originally approached to play Detective Sergeant Jack Cates and Richard Pryor was set for the role of Reggie Hammond.[3] Eastwood wanted to play a criminal role and ended up playing one inEscape from Alcatraz instead. As a result, 48 Hrs. went into limbo for two years. Then, Gordon called Hill and asked him if he would make the film with Nick Nolte as Cates.[3] The character of Reggie Hammond was originally named Willie Biggs, but Eddie Murphy felt that was too stereotypical of a black man's name and changed it to Reggie Hammond.

Murphy started a few weeks after principal photography began because he was finishing up a season of Saturday Night Live.[3] The shoot went well but Hill ran into problems with studio executives. Michael Eisner, then head of Paramount, was worried that the film was not funny enough. Hill and his co-screenwriter, Larry Gross wrote more material tailored to Nolte's and Murphy's personalities. By Hill's account, they rewrote Murphy's character right to the very last day of shooting. Executives also found the footage of the gunfight in the hotel to be too violent and were worried that it would kill the film's humor. They told Hill that he would never work for Paramount again as a result.[3]


Box office[edit][]

48 Hrs. was an enormous box office success and went on to become the seventh highest-grossing film of 1982.[4] It grossed $4,369,868 in its opening weekend[5] and $78,868,508 overall at the domestic box office.[6]

Critical response[edit][]

48 Hrs. was well received by critics and is considered by many to be one of the best films of 1982.[7][8][9][10] Based on 37 reviews compiled retrospectively Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 95% "Fresh".[11]In 2007, the staff at IGN named the movie the third greatest buddy cop film.[12]


48 Hrs. was nominated and won several critical awards.[13] Walter Hill won the Grand Prix award at the Cognac Festival du Film Policier. Eddie Murphy was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Acting Debut - Male. The film's screenplay was nominated by the Edgar Allan Poe Awards for Best Motion PictureJames Horner also won an award for his score at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards.

The film was on the ballot for several of the American Film Institute's 100 series lists, including the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs,[14] a list of America's funniest films, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills,[15] a list of America's most heart-pounding films, and Eddie Murphy's line "I'm your worst fucking nightmare, man! A nigger with a badge" was a candidate for AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes.[16]


In January 2011, Intrada Records released the world premiere recording of James Horner's score and songs from the movie in a limited edition run of 5000 units.[17] This was the first official release of the score; previous pressings from Europe were unofficial bootlegs with music from other James Horner film scores.