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Three teenagers find a briefcase with a beat-up old can in it. They throw away the can and pawn the suitcase. When they read in the papers that the can was full of uncut heroin and belonged to a drug dealer who killed two narcotics agents in a shootout, they go back to look for the can, find it, and decide to go into the heroin selling business. However, the drug dealer's gang also wants the heroin, finds out the boys have it, and sets out to hunt them down and get back their dope. Written by
Irvin Kershner has directed some excellent, some famous, movies. This one was his first. It certainly isn't famous but it is indeed excellent.
It's about three young men who find a briefcase that contains, hidden among cosmetics, a can of heroin. The guys reminded me of characters from "West Side Story," though they are more middle-class. They kind of hang out, kind of have jobs. One kind of has a girlfriend. (She is played by Abby Dalton, the only name in the cast list I'd ever heard, and I'm not sure where I heard it.) That girlfriend notwithstanding, one of them has also drawn a head and unclothed torso of one of the others. This drawing is shown throughout the film.
Though it's a sensationalistic film, it is not pro-drug. I am going to risk some brickbats but I never liked "Easy Rider." And I'm a baby boomer. Yes, I liked Jack Nicholson but the whole stoned thing: No, not for me.
This little film has a jazz score. It plays out for us like a poem. It reminds me of Allen Ginsburg. It's smart, it's hip. It's everything a movie ought to be. And, I'd guess, it accomplishes this on a pretty low budget.
The movie has a Police Gazette type title. And it may have played at drive-ins. But make no mistake: This is real art.
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