Year 8, Day 157 - 6/5/16 - Movie #2,356
BEFORE: I've made great strides toward catching up so far this year - in the first half of 2016, I managed to go out to the theater five times, plus I watched 17 films that were released in 2015, 31 that were released in 2014, and another 15 that were released in 2013. So that's nearly half of this year's films, released in 2012 or after. But that's enough current movies for a while, ever since watching "The Brainwashing of My Dad" I've immersed myself in films from the 1970's and 1980's, and in a few days I'll continue that with the Burt Reynolds chain. When that's over I'm going even further back, to the days of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and after THAT I'm going back to the 1940's, with the Thin Man series, Abbott and Costello, and the last few Marx Brothers films. Bottom line, I won't be watching a movie from this millennium for the next month and a half. But essentially, that's what this whole project was intended to do, catch me up on the classics.
Roy Scheider carries over from "52 Pick-Up", and he'll be here tomorrow as well. I always liked him as an actor, I think because of his appearance in "2010", which I thought was a very underrated sci-fi film. Besides "Jaws", though, I can't remember what other movies he was in that interested me. Tonight's film is one of those "nearly unlinkable" ones, really the only place to put it is between two other films with Roy Scheider, and fortunately I have two.
THE PLOT: A tough detective who is part of an elite New York City unit is trying to find out who killed his partner, but uncovers a plot to kidnap mobsters for money.
AFTER: The concept here is that there's a secret unit within the NYPD police force, one that uses subterfuge and stealth to take down the criminals that regular cops can't touch, sort of like a "Mission: Impossible" force. But at the same time, someone is masquerading as cops to kidnap key mob figures, so suspicion for these actions falls on to the Seven-Ups, who then are doubly motivated to solve the case, which will also clear their reputations. The theme fits in nicely with last night's film, where Scheider also turned the tables on criminals, and also "A Walk Among the Tombstones" a couple of weeks ago, which featured someone kidnapping drug lord's family members for ransom.
The concept is smart, because who has more money than the mob, and as a bonus, they're not likely to call the police, especially if they think the police are the ones doing the kidnapping. And maybe believing that NYPD cops in the 1970's were corrupt wasn't that much of a stretch.
Part of the fun for me with this movie was catching a look at New York City in 1973, the opening shot is of Grand Central Terminal, with the PanAm (now MetLife) building in the background - but when the camera pans down, I didn't recognize 42nd Street at all, because it's changed so much since then. Then there was this big car chase later in the film, which looked like it started in a really dumpy area of Manhattan (the Bowery?) and then about 30 seconds later, it looked like they were driving up through midtown, and then 30 seconds after that, it seemed like they were on Central Park West, then over on Riverside Drive, headed for the George Washington Bridge. Oh, sure, you can make that trip by car, just not that fast. Only in the movies... But now I'm going to have to visit one of those "NYC movie locations revealed!" web-sites and look this film up.
(Ah, I thought that NYC Courthouse scene looked a little weird - that's because it wasn't the Manhattan courthouse, it took place at the old Brooklyn courthouse near Cadman Plaza. Other scenes were shot at the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx, the Bronx High School of Science, and the really dumpy railroad track scenes were shot near Co-op City, also in the Bronx. That Chock Full O'Nuts cafe was on 54th St. and Madison Ave - how did he get there from Grand Central so fast? The Commodore Hotel is not there anymore, it got turned into the Grand Hyatt, right next to Grand Central. And the garage where the car chase started was on 56th St., between 10th and 11th Ave. - I guess from there it's not too far to Central Park West.)
I think maybe if Hollywood's looking for a new franchise, they could re-start this one and go a long way with it. But perhaps this film's not as well-known as a TV series, such as "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", which is now a big-screen franchise.
Also starring Ken Kercheval, Tony Lo Bianco (last seen in "City Heat"), Victor Arnold (last seen in "All the Right Moves"), Jerry Leon, Richard Lynch, Bill Hickman, Larry Haines, Joe Spinell, Robert Burr, Rex Everhart, Lou Polan, Matt Russo.
RATING: 5 out of 10 screeching tires