Wednesday, January 01, 2014

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! LAW AND DISORDER (1974) starring Carroll O'Connor and Ernest Borgnine!

I still remember when this flick hit them local concrete fallout shelters they call movie theatres back in the mid-seventies, and it sure looked enticing what with Carroll O'Connor, then riding on his ALL IN THE FAMILY megastardom being teamed up with former McHALE'S NAVY lead and respectable film star in his own right Ernest Borgnine. I mean, if you could find two dog-tired aging actors who could play the roles of downtrodden New York schmucks having to deal with the crime problem in a timely "serio-comedy" then let me know who exactly they would be! And no, Paul Lynde and Joe Besser do not count!

Anyway it's New York City inna seventies where crime is rampant and both Willie the cab driver (played by O'Connor) and Cy the beautician (Borgnine) are bearing the brunt of robberies in their ever running-down neighborhood. When they go to the cops to complain they get suckered into joining an auxiliary police force and have to deal with both their home lives, work and their night duties trying to keep things under control. A tough job especially when Cy's son's bike gets swiped in broad daylight and Willie's daughter (who thankfully is not the Gloria Bunker clone I thought she was gonna be*, even though there is a strange mirror image of ditziness to contend with) is hanging out on the streets with the local tough kids including this one irritating delinquent whose one sole line throughout the film's what else but "fuck you!" And the pud does it in this really irritating nasal voice which really makes you wanna slug him inna 'nads the way Willie and Cy wanna whenever the dooge (another family only word!) is hanging around.

To be honest, LAW AND DISORDER ebbs and flows with some scenes amusing another while others drag a bit. Some portions are pure cereal filler like the scene where that guy who used to be the psychiatrist on M*A*S*H gives an overemotional speech about the process of erection and handling rapists, while other vignettes (such as the one where Cy tracks down the thief who stole his son's bike) do have that proper amount of humor and seriousness mixed together that might not have you rolling in the aisles, but you'll probably get a good charge outta it anyway. And frankly I don't know why Karen Black was in this 'un as Cy's fellow beautician who gives him a hard time other'n maybe as an opportunity to capitalize on her own stardom, but if you like her she's here and you won't mind.

Overall, it's kinda like that manager on WELCOME BACK KOTTER who just stood there with the stone face but pointed to his throat saying "I'm there."

Of course this being a "serio-comedy" the film strangely enough takes a strange shift towards the end when Willie finds his ditz of a daughter stoned outta her mind and all of a sudden the film turns into a seventies crime drama that could match SERPICO or THE NEW CENTURIONS for on-screen brutal reality. Don't wanna give anything away but the climax, while not as all out violently powerful as I would have liked, was strong enough to give me a bit of a jolt and, maybe for once in the picture, made me realize that I wasn't watching some remake of CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? done seventies style!

Definitely worth a viewing whenever you can find it. I'm sure that the tee-vee print that was being shown inna eighties leaves a whole lot out but even if you get hold of that, it's still got the (occasional) pounce.
*...and don't worry because Willie ain't a Bunker clone either even if some similarities come popping out, perhaps uncontrollably.

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