Friday, July 25, 2014

Pointless Lists: Top 10 Movie Police Chiefs

It's Friday. And I wanna make a list. I'm also feeling a bit goofy, yet somehow still respectful of authority. That brings me to today's topic: movie police chiefs. They're never the hero. Instead, they are thanklessly tasked with trying to keep the hero in check. Someone has to make sure the rules are followed. This usually involves lots of yelling, swearing, talk of ulcers, confiscating of guns and badges, and eating of crow when the loose cannon cop saves the day. Every once in a while, the chief will even turn out to be the villain. Oddly, this usually entails much less yelling, swearing, etc. In either case, these are my...

Top 10 Movie Police Chiefs

Captain Ben Harp
(John C. McGinley, Point Break)
Hero he has to check: Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves)
This guy's job is doubly tough. The young, hotshot punk he has to deal with is used to being a big deal on the football field and now spends most of his working day catching waves and ignoring orders. To make matters worse, you can't even get a single, believable emotion out of the guy. I mean, it is Keanu Reeves. For that reason alone, I think ol' Ben Harp says things like this just to try to get a rise out of the guy...
You're a real blue flame special, aren't you, son? Young, dumb and full of come, I know. What I don't know is how you got assigned here. Guess we must just have ourselves an asshole shortage, huh?

Captain Haden
(Frank McRae, 48 Hrs.)
Heroes he has to check: Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) and Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy)
Not only does he have to deal with Cates, a cop who doesn't give a crap about authority, he also has to trust that Cates can handle Reggie Hammond, a convict let out for two days to try and help crack the big case. It's no wonder he spouts off stuff like...
You goddamn Whiskey McCop! You lost a stolen bus! I got 5 deaths related to Ganz, and you blow it for a lousy n***** convict! That's right! I called him a n*****! You bet I did! Now I saw the report on that little piece of shit. If he spends one legal day in his life, it'll be a record! And this is it for you! Suspension, review board! You've had it!

Superintendant Pang
(Philip Chan, Hard Boiled)
Hero he has to check: Inspector "Tequila" Yuen (Yun-Fat Chow)
Pang has to deal with a cop that has more ammo than should be humanly possible and is willing to use every last bullet to get the job done. Direct orders go completely disobeyed. It's to the point that Pang might as well have "Figure Head" on his name plate. He almost has no choice but to say...
Give a guy a gun, he thinks he's Superman. Give him two and he thinks he's God.

Police Captain
(R. Lee Ermey, Se7en)
Heroes he has to check: Det. David Mills (Brad Pitt) and Det. William Somerset (Morgan Freeman)
See what I did there? Anyhoo, the unnamed captain is played by a surprisingly calm R. Lee Ermey. He takes a different approach than the rest of the guys on this list. He understands that the soon to be retiring Det. Somerset is the departments only chance to crack the puzzling case at hand. He likes Mills' spunk, but knows this is beyond the kid's level of comprehension. Therefore, he spends lots of time stroking Somerset's ego, whispering sweet nothings to him like...
You do this work you were made for and I don't think you can deny that. Maybe I'm wrong.

Captain Dickson
(Ice Cube, Jump Street franchise)
Heroes he has to check: Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Tyler Channing)
Does any chief have to deal with more incompetence than Dickson? Well, yeah, but we'll get to that guy soon enough. Dickson runs a close second in the category, though. Where Dickson is the run away winner is in knowing exactly who he is. He's in on the joke that is his very existence. He lets us all know this when he says...
I know what you're thinkin': angry, black captain. Well guess what? I'm black, and I worked my ASS off to be the captain. And sometimes, I get a little angry, so suck a dick!

Captain Howard
(Joe Pantoliano, Bad Boys franchise)
Heroes he has to check: Det. Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Det. Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence)
If there's one guy on this list to feel sorry for, this is him. Like a number of the others, he has two reckless cops who kill far more perps than they arrest. He also has another duo that yearns to be just like the first. Now add in the fact that his job seems to be constantly on the line and it's easy to see why his work seems to be having an adverse effect on his physical well-being. My heart breaks a little when he says...
I can't believe you guys. Do you get up in the morning, call each other up - "Good morning, Marcus." "Good morning, Mike." "How you doin'?" "Ai'ight." "So, how are we going to fuck up the captain's life today?" "Gee, I don't know, I don't know... Ooh, look! Over there. Let's kill three fat people and leave them on the street?"

Lieutenant Thaddeus Harris
(G. W. Bailey, Police Academy franchise)
Heroes he has to check: Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), Thompson (Kim Cattrall), Hightower (Bubba Smith), Tackleberry (David Graf), etc.
Here's the guy that has to deal with the most incompetence. He also harbors the most hatred for his subordinates, by far. Now add in the fact that he probably holds the record for appearing in the most bad sequels and you have a guy fit to be tied. You just know he means it, when he screams...
We've got you because you are the worst people here. You are "D" Squad; "D" for "dirtbags." When I say: "Hey, dirtbags!" that means you. You people are going to hate my guts for the rest of your lives. I am going to make you sorry that you ever came here.

Captain Murphy
(Steve Kahan, Lethal Weapon franchise)
Heroes he has to check: Det. Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and Det. Riggs (Mel Gibson)
If Cpt. Howard of the Bad Boys flicks is on the verge of keeling over from the stress of his job, then Cpt. Murphy is his polar opposite. When it comes to not caring what his loose cannon cops do, he is the undisputed champion. Sure, he has a job to do and he genuinely wants to do it. He's just not going to let it kill him. That's why you have to give him thumbs up when he sighs...
I don't give a fuck, Riggs. That's why I don't have an ulcer, because I know when to say "I don't give a fuck."

Chief Gillespie
(Rod Steiger, In the Heat of the Night)
Hero he has to check: Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier)
Chief Gillespie runs his town with an iron fist. This of course, includes his police force. And he's a product of his time, so being a bigot is pretty much in his blood. At first. Combine that with the thick southern accent and every time he speaks, country bumpkin comes out. However, this belies the fact that he's a brilliant psychologist. Not only does he know people well, he's not afraid to tell them about themselves either. We realize this when he rips off this beauty...
You're gonna stay here if I have to go inside and call your chief of police and have him remind you of what he told you to do. But I don't think I have to do that, you see? No, because you're so damn smart. You're smarter than any white man. You're just gonna stay here and show us all. You've got such a big head that you could never live with yourself unless you could put us all to shame. You wanna know something, Virgil? I don't think that you could let an opportunity like that pass by.

Inspector Todd
(Gilbert R. Hill, Beverly Hills Cop franchise)
Hero he has to check: Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy)
When I decided to do this list, there was no doubt Inspector Todd was going to grace the top spot. The man is just a ball of rage. The mere sight of Axel Foley makes his already ridiculously high blood pressure skyrocket. He is who Captain Dickson of the Jump Street series pays homage to. He is also the man I'd be most afraid to work for. You see, I don't have Axel's knack for comedic improvisation or for taking such authority figures so lightly. Therefore, I would probably stay out of it when he says...
I didn't just walk into this town from the cotton fields! Whoever killed your friend wasn't worried about your little narrow ass. If they were, you'd be lyin' beside him in that meat wagon. Just don't do a damn thing. Stay out of this!

So there's my two cents. Of course, I haven't seen every movie with a police chief in it, so feel free to let me know if I've missed some of your favorites.


  1. Great idea for a list! Inspector Todd is a great choice.

  2. Great idea for a list! Inspector Todd is a terrific choice.

    1. Thanks. Inspector Todd has always cracked me up.

  3. Harris was great, one of the best parts of the franchise. Don't think I've ever watched the one set in Russia, though.

  4. Awesome list and no it's not pointless at all! :) Oooh I LOVE that you included Lieutenant Thaddeus Harris! He's just hilarious, hands down my fave character in the Police Academy franchise!

    1. Thanks. I just had to include Harris. The poor guy went through so much.

  5. So glad you mentioned Chief Gillespie. A white police chief in the south who has to protect a colored man... for some reason I can't picture any actor besides Rod Steiger for that job.

    Also agree with Inspector Todd ("Axel, you on a coffee break?"), Lieutenant Harris, Captain Murphy, and Captain Haden. Additionally I'd have to nominate the following:

    - Captain Salazar ( Richard Portnow ) on Kindergarten Cop. He didn't do any yelling but he always had that serious tone in his voice that says don't f--k with me.
    *looks at dead body* "Yup that's her, and there goes our god damn case. Tell O'hara and Kimble that crisp is going to walk. Tell Joyce Crisp knows where she is and if she wants police protection she's got to come up with the money."

    - Captain Rubio ( Holland Taylor ) from Cop and a Half. This is one female no one, especially Burt Reynolds should cross even on his good day. She meant business.

    1. Thanks for your suggestions. I haven't seen either of those movies (at least in full, I've seen parts of Kindergarten Cop), so I can't really say what I think of them.

  6. That's certainly a curious list. I've never really thought about police chiefs before, so I'm not sure if I could say I have a particular favorite. Favorite cops I might be able to do (though there would be some difficulty and it would also be incomplete since there are plenty I still haven't seen) but I'm not sure who I'd say my favorite chief was.

    1. There are always going to be plenty we haven't seen so I'm pretty sure this list is far from being a definitive one. Just my two cents based on what I've watched.