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It is now clear that the true golden age of American film was from the mid-60s until just before the release of Star Wars. Before then, there was too much Hays Code-constricted pap. With Star Wars, the green light was lit for most films to be directed at children and morons, a practice which continues to this day. THE SEVEN-UPS, truth be told, contains a couple hackneyed lines of dialogue -- "We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way" is one -- but I'm damned if I can find anything else wrong with it. (In fact, that line may not even have been stale when this film was made.) THE SEVEN-UPS demonstrates all that was right with the best films of the golden age: sparse dialogue, realistic acting, real locations (winter in a dirty New York has never looked better/worse), propulsive stories, and, yes, the best car chase ever filmed. Bill Hickman is the driver Scheider is chasing (you will recognize him from Bullitt), and the structure of the chase is fairly similar to the McQueen one, but I prefer Scheider's facial intensity here, the pacing, the terrific close-ups of the schoolchildren, and the shattering conclusion. (That VW bug going about 2 mph always bothers me in the Bullitt chase.) A stringy, screechy score by Don Ellis sets the perfect mood. THE SEVEN UPS: bleak, grim, action-oriented, grown-up. This is a film that couldn't be made today; there's no "gimmick" for the kiddies or preposterous ending. Thank you, Philip D'Antoni, Roy Scheider and Tony Lo Bianco: for as long as cop films are watched, THE SEVEN-UPS and its 1970s brethren (e.g., THE FRENCH CONNECTION), will set the standard.
Every studio that has made a police movie over the last twenty years
be forced to watch this film and learn a thing or two.
The story is this: A group of renegade cops known as "The Seven-Ups" seek revenge against the hoods that murdered one of their own. Original idea? Maybe not, but considering the film is loosely based on actual events and was made in 1973 it was way before its time. Sure there were the "Death Wishes" and "The French Connections," back in the day, but I would be hard pressed to find a more gritty and intelligent film to match wits with this one from an era long forgotten.
The always fantastic Roy Scheider (who regardless of his current status as an actor, i.e. being forced to play pathetic roles for a paycheck due to his age, etc by industry standards) plays the main character flawlessly, supported by a cast of hard hitting fellow cops are on the trail of a gang of hoods who are impersonating police officers and shaking down mobsters, only to rough them up (and in some cases kill them)for the money they are carrying.
When one of Schieder's crew gets killed in a botched robbery, and Schieder and his boys become suspects by their own department, they take matters into their own hands, and try to clear their names and find those responsible by any means necesary. That takes place in the first half hour, and everything minute to follow is one exciting moment after the next, including THE BEST CAR CHASE EVER! Period.
I could go on forever as to what a well-crafted film this is, but for those who have been sleeping under rocks for the past two decades (or some who are simply too young to have seen it the first go round) my words cannot do justice, but you can bet "The Seven-Ups" can...
Simply put, don't wait another minute to see this bad-ass, because they don't make 'em like they used too...
One of my favorites. As a child, growing up in the NY Metro area in the
late 60s and early 70s, I was often afforded the opportunity to visit
NYC with my grandfather or father, as they conducted business there.
The gritty, bustling, human, reality of that city, particularly in
winter, have stayed with me.
This film very aptly captures the stark, cold, matter-of-fact feel of the NYC winter season, while keenly exposing the underbelly of the region's infamous underworld of crime and policing. A great snapshot of a place and a time and a culture.
And the car chase is simply amazing. At least on par with the one in "Bullitt", and surpassing the chase in "The French Connection". I can watch, time and again, as the suspension comes unstuck on that Plymouth Fury police cruiser barreling toward the GW Bridge in pursuit, as it lurches into that sharp right curve, bouncing and scraping into oncoming traffic. The stunt driving coordinator for that scene did "Bullitt" and "The French Connection" as well as many other noatable movie chases. Good acting, too, and a decent plot line. The musical score is edgy and compelling, and the cinematography and direction are top notch. A great, if underrated 1970s cop drama. A keeper. Not out on DVD yet, though.
Comparable in style and content to: The French Connection and Super Fly. Early 1970's cop dramas set in the bleak NYC winter months.
I love the other reviews of this movie. They mirror my attitude. I am a
70's sort of guy, minus disco and "Star Wars" childishness. There was
nothing great about this movie, except for a chase scene. That is why
it was good, because it was tough, basic and economical. Roy Scheider
carried the movie, which was based on the crew, the 7 Ups, that backed
up Gene Hackman in the "French Connection". The people in it were
believable and average, who burned themselves pouring coffee, showed
fear in chase scene and almost lost it after a close call crash.
Maybe it would be easier to tell you what it lacked. There was no fancy weapons, just basic revolvers and crude sawed off shotguns. There was no tough guy philosophizing, ala Tarantino. There was no kung fu or samurai nonsense and no fancy trick shooting either. There was no clever guy who carries out some complicated scheme based on hundreds of things going just the way he planned including everyone else's reactions. The criminals were bad guys but they didn't shoot people for the hell of it. As a matter of fact, there was a body count of just three. something that the average movie these days would pass in the opening credits. It could be a G movie today! No bus load of orphan school children were kidnapped nor were terrorists threatening to kill half of the city. There were no high tech hijinks, nor were the crimes themselves very moving or ingenious, the highest tech thing I saw was a touch tone ATT wall phone. It had no subplots or amusing character developments. Also, no sex or women, except for one mobster's wife who did some screaming as the Buddy our hero had her menaced.
It was some little undertaker who exploited his connections with the local mob and the police to kidnap local mobsters for some easy payoffs. The undertakers. Vito, was played by Tony Lo Bianco who did a great job, as good as Roy Schneider, Buddy the head of 7 Ups cop, whom he informed and exploited. What ever happened to Tony Lo Bianco, he seemed like a Pacino shoe in, good looking and talented? What it did have was a great NYC backdrop to a simple crime story. Locations that were bleak and dehumanizing without being a sociological study. It had a simple plot that involved this kidnapping scheme where one of Buddy's cop got accidentally involved, literally accidentally dragged in then accidentally shot dead. Since Buddy and his 7 ups are a hot dogs unit, both the NYPD Brass and mobsters thought he was involved, since the kidnappers masqueraded as plain clothes cops to lure the mobsters into compliance. Obviously the mobsters figured they had lawyers and rights to protect them from normal police. Even the mobsters were plain, old and ugly, no Godfather royalty or Soprano hipness here.
It is a good basic movie with a standout chase scene between two 70's d Pontiacs. Even the cars were plain and economical, not even a GTO or a Trans Am, like the acting and the story. In the days of Batman uber-hype or "24" levels of intensity doomsday scenarios, this movie reminds us that less is better. It should be shown to movie screen writers and directors as a caveat not to dazzle, amuse then ultimately insult us with stunts, gadgets and clown psychotic behavior galore.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What you saw in BULLITT and THE FRENCH CONNECTION is nothing compared
to what you have here. The chase goes on for nearly 15 minutes and is
the best you'll ever see. This movie has become a classic crime drama
from the heyday of 70's film-making. It's a gritty and realistic
portrayal of the mean streets of New York City. Featuring one of the
slickest wise guys ever put on screen, Tony Lo Bianco's behavior in
this movie is cool as ice. He's ripping off his own associates and
making it look like the police are responsible. His childhood friend,
Roy Scheider, is a street detective who becomes puzzled by the
disappearances of the mobsters. You can tell that Lo Bianco's enjoying
the game throughout the movie. At times though, the film gets dull, but
then right when you feel like giving up on it, something big happens
and it pulls you back in. The score by Don Ellis sets the tone of the
cold, gray wintertime in New York City and to top it all off, my man
Joe Spinell shows up in an early role as Toredano the garage man.
Score, 7 out of 10 Stars
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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
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.
What an underrated flick. Great action.Great tension.The only thing (you could ask for) would have been Friedkin directing it. I know, I know. Same year as Exorcist. Still... One comment which was made referred to the plot being confusing which I slightly agree with. Friedkin might have cracked the whip on that part. I always thought you could do a lot of different things in a car wash. And Moon!!! Thank God for Richard Lynch. What an actor.And the driver. He should have acted more. Great menace.With those little glasses. Also underrated is Roy. He never got his due. He should have won for All That Jazz. FC II is great, but this is too overlooked. p.s. AVOID THE NEW EXORCIST. Wait for Schraeder DVD.
The Seven Ups from a reality standpoint is by far the best produced police drama ever to hit the screen. The story encompasses all the pitfalls and dangers of police undercover work and the alliances between partners as well as the relationships and betrayals of informers. The cast is superb and what made it real and gritty is none of the actors at the time were big stars. The best scene undoubtedly is the ending when Tony Lobianco is pleading with Roy Schieder The music steadily increases and Roy Schieder keeps walking away. The story line is timeless and can be translated every 20 to 25 years in modern remake form. I have been waiting for this movie to be produced on DVD
The Seven-Ups is well-acted and has an authentic flavour thanks to the
location photography, but it is by no means an exceptional film. In fact,
its main drawback is that it is far too workmanlike.... it often resembles a
not very interesting documentary, shot in grimy and grainy
The plot is about a secret undercover police unit in New York. They uncover a plot hatched by criminals to kidnap mobsters and hold them for ransom. Effectively, what is happening is that criminals from one side of the pasture are abducting criminals from the other side of the pasture and keeping them until a hefty fee has been paid for their release.
Quite often, the police dialogue and the deliberately grimy photography echo the feel created in The French Connection, but this is a tame retread of that film. The one thing that might pull in viewers is the film's ten minute car chase sequence, which is not only the best bit of the film but one of the very best car chase scenes from any film ever made. For that alone, The Seven Ups is worth watching at least once.
This is not a great movie, but it evokes a time and a place, and a style that goes along with it. A gritty 70's police drama, it takes place in a New York winter of gray skies, bare trees, wet gutters, litter and graffiti, when the crooks had no cell phones, cars smelled of vinyl and exhaust fumes, and the computer was the noisy thing that printed the suspect's rap sheet on a roll of yellow paper. The acting, it must be admitted, is routine, but Roy Scheider and the rest portray an undercover squad of calm professionals to whom danger has become routine. The story manages to be interesting, punctuated by one exciting Popeye Doyle style car chase through the Sunday streets (judging by the light traffic) and up the Taconic State Parkway, and two nerve-wracking scenes in the belly of an automatic car wash. But for all the occasional bursts of violence, it's also a quiet story of a friendship that can't withstand the temptations of crime.
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