I think the filmographic lineage may run like this. Pay attention, please, because I had to look this up. In 1967 Peter Yates, an ex auto racer, directs the English caper movie "Robbery," the most thrilling part of which is a car chase through the streets of London, down alleys where there are crowds of children playing and all that. It's a success.
A year later, Yates directs "Bullet", starring Steve McCool, I mean McQueen, featuring another even more spectacular car chase up and down the San Francisco Hills, with dumbfoundingly authentic engine sounds that seem to include double clutching, full race cams, no mufflers, twelve-cylinder engines under forty-foot hoods, supercharged, superdupercharged, and all five-thousand horsepower running at full tilt. Lots of shots of McQueen's gum-chewing visage scowling with concentration as he tries to bump another car off the highway, though a passenger in the other vehicle totes a shotgun. The chase is staged by Philip D'Antoni. Bill Hopkins drives the criminal vehicle.
A year or two later, sensing a good thing, Bill Friedkin directs "The French Connection," featuring a chase between a commandeered cop car(Gene Hackman) and an elevated train in New York City. Lots of shots of Hackman's cursing face as he wrestles the battered car through the streets. The chase is staged by Philip D'Antoni. Academy Awards follow.
Sensing a good thing, a year or two more brings us "The Seven Ups," featuring a chase between a car driven by Roy Scheider, with lots of shots of Scheider's cursing face as he tries to bump the other car, which is driven by Bill Hopkins, off the road, although the criminal car, to be sure, carries a shotgun-toting passenger. No hills in New York City, just bumps, but they are still sharp enough to elevate the cars a few feet. The pursued car screeches around a corner and dashes down a street on which a dozen children are playing. Shots of the screaming kids as they scatter off the pavement and allows the car to zoom through. But once is not enough. The children immediately run back into the street and must repeat the retreat for the pursuing cop car carrying Scheider.
I once witnessed a pursuit at high speed on the streets of Philadelphia. Both the criminal and the cops drove through the streets at about 25 miles an hour, coming to rolling stops at each Stop sign and red light -- very dull stuff compared to this movie.
Speaking of this movie, it's pretty good. "Robbery" and "Bullet" were cool. Everyone dressed neatly. But the New York movies are filthy. There's garbage all over the place and the subway cars are covered with graffiti. Shoot outs and beat ups take place in vacant lots surrounded by crumbling brick buildings, or in disposal dumps for industrial-sized freezers.
The acting is pretty good too. Roy Scheider seems whippet sleek. The other actors have faces made for the camera, especially Richard Welsh. And the story is engaging, if not entirely unfamiliar. What's best about the film is the way it captures New York City in its almost total indifference to human depravity and nobility. At a funeral, the limo drivers stand around with their collars up, butts hanging out of their mouths, kicking their cold feet together, utterly bored at the ritual goings on. The film wants us to believe that The Seven Ups are an elite group of untouchable cops who stop at nothing to get the job done, and here it's a bit of a sell out. They always seems to be threatening to do something unethical and illegal -- beat hell out of a suspect or physically damage a hospitalized and helpless hood -- but they always manage to avoid doing it. (If they actually did it, their characters would become lifelike and ambiguous and we'd rather have our heroes and villains of a more Biblical nature.) Very enjoyable, even if you've seen it before, and you very well may have in one or another of its previous incarnations.
Action / Crime / Drama / Mystery
Action / Crime / Drama / Mystery
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Buddy, Barilli, Mingo and Ansel, detectives with the NYPD, comprise a secret investigative unit called the Seven-Ups, who, largely undercover, focus on cases leading to felony convictions with prison sentences of seven years or more for the criminals in question. Many within the NYPD who know about the unit don't support the idea of it because of the often unethical way they work on the cases, but their superior, Inspector Gilson, defends the unit solely because of the results. On the sly, Buddy, who is the head of the team, gets much of the information for the cases from Vito Lucia, a childhood friend who still lives and works in the old neighborhood where much of the crime is based. Vito knows that his life could be in danger if the mob finds out that he acts as a snitch for the police. After Buddy starts looking into the loan sharking business of some local mob members, unknown to him some of those mob members are shaken down for a minimum $100,000 apiece, one by one kidnapped for ransom before they are released when the extortionists are able to abscond with the ransom money. The M.O. of the extortionists is for two to act as police detectives bringing the mob member in for questioning, before showing their true colors of kidnapping the person for ransom. The mob has no reason to doubt that the men truly are NYPD gone bad. Buddy even sees one of them taken in, a bail bondsman named Festa with mob ties, he knowing that what he witnessed was not what it appeared on the surface, however unaware that this situation was not a one off in the scuttlebutt he had previous heard about general unrest on the streets. By the time that Buddy learns of the serial kidnappings and the unofficial war the mob has with the NYPD because of it, Buddy and the team are determined to nab the mastermind behind the extortions as it has become more than a professional issue for them.
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