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Freebie and the Bean is a 1974 American action-comedy film about two off-beat police detectives who wreak havoc in San Francisco attempting to bring down a local organized crime boss. The picture, a precursor to the buddy cop film genre popularized a decade later, stars James Caan, Alan Arkin, Loretta Swit and Valerie Harper.[2] Harper was nominated for the Golden Globe for New Star of the Year for playing the Hispanic wife of Alan Arkin.[3] The film was directed by Richard Rush. An article in Rolling Stone magazine alleged that Stanley Kubrick called Freebie and the Bean the best film of 1974.[4] Arkin and Caan would not appear in another movie together until the 2008 film adaptation of Get Smart.

Freebie and the Bean
Freebie and The Bean.jpg
Directed byRichard Rush
Produced byRichard Rush
Written byRobert Kaufman
Floyd Mutrux
StarringJames Caan
Alan Arkin
Loretta Swit
Jack Kruschen
Christopher Morley
Mike Kellin
Alex Rocco
Linda Marsh
Valerie Harper
Music byDominic Frontiere
CinematographyLászló Kovács
Edited byMichael McLean
Fredric Steinkamp
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • December 25, 1974 (1974-12-25)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$30,000,000[1]



Freebie and Bean are a pair of maverick detectives with the SFPD Intelligence Squad. The volatile, gratuity-seeking Freebie is trying to get promoted to the vice squad to garner perks for his retirement while the neurotic and fastidious Bean has ambitions to make lieutenant. Against a backdrop of Super Bowl weekend in San Francisco, the partners are trying to conclude a 14-month investigation, digging through garbage to gather evidence against well-connected racketeer Red Meyers, when they discover that a hit man from Detroit is after Meyers as well. After rejecting their pretext arrest of Meyers to protect him, the district attorney orders them to keep him alive until Monday.

After locating and shooting the primary hit man, and distracted by Bean's suspicions that his wife is having an affair with the landscaper, they continue their investigation seeking a key witness against Meyers who can explain and corroborate the evidence. In the midst of this, they foil a second hit on Meyers by a backup team, leading to a destructive vehicle and foot pursuit through the city, after which they learn that Meyers is planning to fly to Miami before Monday. Tailing him, they receive word that their witness has been located and a warrant issued for Meyers' arrest. Unbeknownst to them, a woman Red Meyers picked up at a local park is actually a female impersonator looking to rob Meyers.

During the arrest attempt Bean is shot by the thief, who flees with Meyers into the stadium where the Super Bowl is underway. Freebie corners the hit man in a women's restroom, and despite being shot himself, rescues a hostage and kills the hit man who nearly bests Freebie with his unexpected martial arts skills. The D.A. arrives after the shootings and tells Freebie that the warrant is canceled because the witness was assassinated on the way to the station. Freebie goes nuts and demands to be allowed to arrest Meyers, which is granted by the lieutenant in command of his squad, only to find that Meyers has died of a heart attack. Freebie is further demoralized to learn that the evidence they gathered was planted by Meyers' wife in an extra-marital conspiracy with his lieutenant.

Bean is not dead after all, however, and in the ambulance the two wounded partners engage in a free-for-all when Freebie thinks Bean has been playing a joke on him, causing yet another accident.


Production notesEdit

The comedy followed on the heels of two popular action films about the San Francisco Police, Bullitt (1968) and Dirty Harry (1971), and incorporates plot elements prominent in both.

Key scenes were shot on location in early 1973 in San Francisco at Candlestick Park, then home of the Major League Baseball San Francisco Giants, and later the home of the National Football League's San Francisco 49ers.

The plot includes the protagonists’ repeated "totaling" of a series of their own unmarked police vehicles during three different chase-crash sequences. One sequence was filmed on an elevated portion of the since-demolished Embarcadero Freeway, ending with their police vehicle car crashing into an apartment building. After the car lands in an elderly couple's bedroom as they are watching television, Arkin’s character collapses from nervous shock against the wall as Caan’s character calls for a tow truck, adding that their location is “on the third floor”. The couple retains their aplomb throughout.[5]


Plans to distribute the film in early 1974 were shelved due to concerns about competition with Peter Hyams' similar Busting.

Freebie and the Bean was finally issued as a Christmas release, and became a substantial box office success.[5]

It earned rentals in North America of $12.5 million.[6][7]

The film was released on DVD in 2009 through Warner Home Video's Warner Archive label.[8]


A short-lived nine-episode television series based on the film and sharing its title, starring Tom Mason and Héctor Elizondo in the title roles, was broadcast on CBS on Saturday nights at 9:00 PM in December 1980 and January 1981.[9][10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Freebie and the Bean, Box Office Information. The Numbers. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
  2. ^ Freebie and the Bean on IMDb
  3. ^ The Hollywood Foreign Press Association
  4. ^ Nick Wrigley Updated: 8 February 2018 (2018-02-08). "Stanley Kubrick, cinephile". BFI. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  5. ^ a b Clement, Nick (17 September 2017). "Moviedrome Redux: 'Freebie And The Bean' (1974)". Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  6. ^ "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 20
  7. ^ FIRST ANNUAL 'GROSSES GLOSS' Byron, Stuart. Film Comment; New York Vol. 12, Iss. 2, (Mar/Apr 1976): 30-31.
  8. ^ Warner Archive Collection
  9. ^ Richard Meyers (1981). A.S. Barnes (ed.). TV detectives. p. 276.
  10. ^ Vincent Terrace (1985). "Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials: 1974-1984". VNR AG. p. 154. Missing or empty |url= (help)

External linksEdit