Turner & Hooch is about a tidy small-town police investigator named Scott Turner who ends up taking in Hooch, a rambunctious Dogue de Bordeaux dog that was the only witness to the murder of his owner, Amos Reed. Hooch ruins most of Turner's possessions, including his car, but helps him meet and fall for the local veterinarian Dr. Emily Carson (Mare Winningham) and solve the case.
Five different writers, including Michael Blodgett (gigolo Lance Rocke in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls), were credited with the screenplay for what some thought was a surprisingly violent and dark feature for a "Disney movie." Here are some facts about the movie Tom Hanks later said was "exhausting" to make.
1. PRODUCERS LOOKED AT 50 DIFFERENT BREEDS TO DETERMINE WHICH WOULD MAKE THE BEST HOOCH.
Determining which breed of dog would make the perfect partner for Tom Hanks was no easy task. "We looked at 50 different breeds—Airedales, shepherds, Rottweilers," dog trainer and stuntman Clint Rowe said. "They wanted a dog that was big but not overly big." The filmmakers settled on the Dogue de Bordeaux. Fewer than 300 of the breed were in the United States when the film came out.
2. HOOCH WAS PLAYED BY MULTIPLE DOGS.
Beasley, a 17-month-old pup, played the main Hooch—and he only had five months to prepare. His stunt double was named Igor. In 2013, Hanks said all four of the dogs in the film passed away and "went to dog heaven."
3. TOM HANKS SPENT QUALITY TIME WITH ALL OF THE DOGS BEFORE SHOOTING.
To get the dogs to react to Hanks while filming, he had to spend time with his canine co-stars in the weeks leading up to filming to build a relationship that would be evident on camera.
"We got along well," Hanks said of the dogs. "You know, when you make a movie with a dog, you have to work with the dog for weeks prior to shooting it. Otherwise, he won't take his eye off the trainer. So, I would go off and play with I think actually three dogs that portrayed Turner & Hooch. It was a part too big for one dog."
4. HENRY WINKLER WAS FIRED AS THE DIRECTOR 13 DAYS INTO SHOOTING.
Henry Winkler was the film's original director, but didn't even last two weeks on the set. "Let's just say I got along better with Hooch than I did with Turner," Winkler told People in 1993. Shortly thereafter, Roger Spottiswoode was hired to take Winkler's place. "I did nothing in fact except take the lens cap off each day and enjoy watching Tom—who was brilliant—and the dog, who was also brilliant," Spottiswoode said.
5. HANKS HAD TO USE A CLICKER DURING SHOOTING.
Usually dogs in movies look at the trainer, who is standing next to the camera. "In this case the trainer taught both Hooches to look at the person who had the little clicker that made a noise," Spottiswoode explained. "So before every take, he would give Tom Hanks the little clicker and Tom would make the click and the dog would look at him and until then on until he handed the clicker back, the only person the dog was interested in was Tom."
6. BEASLEY COULDN'T BE TRAINED TO DRINK THE BEER.
When Rowe was asked what the hardest task for Beasley to learn was, he said that teaching the dog to grab Tom Hanks by the throat was difficult, which he didn't expect. "Also, drinking beer," he added. "He can crack the can, but he wouldn't drink the beer. We had to use chicken soup."
7. BEASLEY WAS KNOWN TO MAKE A RUN FOR IT.
Hanks was surprised to see a clip from Turner & Hooch in a montage of his work at a 2013 BAFTA: A Life In Pictures event, and it led to the actor remembering when they shot the bath scene. "We shot it probably 11 times, because the dog often runs off the set," Hanks said. "You can’t keep the dog in the moment, and we weren’t trying to do a thing where the dog’s behavior was shaped by the editing. We said the dog will have to be a dog and I will have to react off that dog being a dog. So it was actually very hard work."
After the editor turned it into a "kooky" bath montage, Hanks suggested to Spottiswoode that it would be better and funnier if they just used the entirety of the one good take instead. "He put it in there and it ended up working pretty good."
8. BEASLEY SLOBBERED SO MUCH HE RUINED A CAR SEAT.
Using four cameras, Spottiswoode shot Hanks and Beasley continuously for one hour for the stakeout scene. After the hour, they discovered that the new car's seat had eroded from all of Hooch's slobber. The director claimed Beasley was "sort of sinking" into the seat, which had to be cut and replaced.
In 2001, Hanks told Larry King that filming Turner & Hooch was the hardest work he ever had to do, physically and emotionally, and specifically brought up the stakeout scene. "I'm staking out a scene of a crime with my dog Hooch ... We had a car on the set that was surrounded by bungee-cams, literally cameras that were hanging from bungee-cords. And the whole thing was about, whatever this dog does, I react to. We will not ask the dog to do anything specifically, this dog will just do things ... And I will react. That was the hardest I've ever worked."
9. THERE'S AN ALTERNATE ENDING.
One test screening featured Hooch making a miraculous recovery from taking a bullet. In another screening, held half an hour later in the same multiplex, Hooch died. Screenwriter Daniel Petrie Jr. claimed there was no difference in the ratings from the two audiences, but the group that saw Hooch die was more "passionate."
"Some were saying 'I hated that, that was terrible,' whereas others were 'but there were puppies at the end!'" Petrie said. "It provoked this passionate response. The other screening? None of that. It was all positive, but muted."
Disney head Jeffrey Katzenberg left the decision up to Spottiswoode. "I thought about it for a day," he said, "I didn't really want to make the decision." He talked it over with the writers and Petrie and decided to kill him off like it was originally written. When he returned to England, friends and neighbors asked Petrie how he could kill a dog.
10. HANKS TOOK RESPONSIBILITY FOR KILLING HOOCH, AND SAID IT WAS A MISTAKE.
If you weren't a fan of the controversial ending, you now know who to blame.
"I have to make a confession: I was the main proponent of killing Hooch," Hanks said during a BBC Radio 5 interview. "It was a Disney movie and when we were putting it together I stood up at a table and pounded my fist and said, in the grand Disney tradition of Old Yeller, 'Hooch must die ... ' and so they killed Hooch. We killed Hooch and we never should have. We should have I guess kept that doggy alive, so we wouldn't have made the children cry."
11. HOOCH GOT HIS OWN LEARJET.
Beasley had it written into his contract that he would get his own Learjet for transportation. The arrangement, Spottiswoode noted, was fine until there was one bumpy ride and Beasley—out promoting the film—wasn't wearing his safety belt because it didn't fit. "The pilots completely freaked out," Spottiswoode said. "Not that Hooch did anything wrong, but they were in this little Learjet and there was this huge dog and it started to bounce and Hooch apparently was looking not pleased about the situation and he was not strapped down. And the pilots dove down and didn't want to fly him after that."
12. HANKS YELLING AT HOOCH OVER EATING THE CAR WAS USED IN A TOY STORY ANIMATION TEST.
In working out what Hanks might look and sound like as Woody in Toy Story, Pixar used a clip from Turner & Hooch. When Hanks saw the footage, he couldn't stop laughing and made Pixar's John Lasseter play back the video multiple times. He then signed up to play Woody.