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Sammy Davis Jr.,
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[after their confrontation with two racist policemen]
That's right. Two jerks came up here to do their job to find you, me and a white boy, which they weren't too thrilled about anyway, and you have to give them some lip. Save your heroism for something important.
It was important. Don't you know that, Claudia? Take a piece of you here, a piece of you there, so there's nothing left... except yessah, boss!
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"Young Man With a Horn" for a cynical, racially-heated era...a decent showcase for the assembled talents
Sammy Davis Jr. does well with a self-destructive, unlikable role, that of a jazz trumpet player (with the ridiculously Anglo-ized name of Adam Johnson) who finds true love for the first time with a virginal bleeding heart: a sensible civil rights activist who wants to reform the hot-headed musician of his hard liquor and hard-living. Adam, carrying around a multitude of shoulder-chips, lashes out at everybody and never seems to land on his feet; after burning all his bridges, he finds himself at the end of his professional rope--yet the faithful are still hopeful he can make a comeback. Davis mimes the trumpet well enough, but this character is tough to take (if he's not humiliating himself, he's hurting all his loved ones). Much better are Ossie Davis as a friend with a strong center and endless patience, as well as love-interest Cicely Tyson (her sparkling smile is particularly ingratiating, though she has a speech late in the movie about robbing Davis of his manhood that plays all wrong). Mel Tormé stops the show with a terrific rendition of "All That Jazz", while the superb soundtrack and Jack Priestley's gleaming cinematography are first-rate throughout. Director Leo Penn is best at the smaller bits of business; the action happening just left of center is far more interesting than the film's big dramatic moments, which tend to run away from Penn. Worse, the montage-heavy final act is movie-shorthand for the Last Hurrah, a worn-out cliché even in 1966. ** from ****
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