Busting (1974)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  13 April 1974 (Norway)
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LA cops Gould and Blake get in over their heads when they don't heed orders from above and go after a big crime boss. While higher ups in the police department want the cop duo to just ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vice Detective Michael Keneely
Vice Detective Patrick Farrel
Carl Rizzo
Rizzo's Bouncer
Ivor Francis ...
Judge Fred R. Simpson
Mr. Weldman
Logan Ramsey ...
Dr. Berman
Richard X. Slattery ...
Desk Sergeant
Margo Winkler ...
Mrs. Rizzo
John Lawrence ...
Sergeant Kenefick
Rizzo's Connection
Cornelia Sharpe ...
Jackie Faraday
Erin O'Reilly ...


LA cops Gould and Blake get in over their heads when they don't heed orders from above and go after a big crime boss. While higher ups in the police department want the cop duo to just focus on nabbing petty criminals, the team does so while still going after LA kingpin Rizzo. Various fist fights, chases, shootouts and other carnage occur as the two cops go after Rizzo's crime syndicate. Written by Patrick Knightly <pjknight@polsci.umass.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What this film exposes about undercover vice cops can't be seen on your television set. See more »


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 April 1974 (Norway)  »

Also Known As:

Manos sucias sobre la ciudad  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the courtroom scene of Jackie the hooker's preliminary hearing, the Judge's name on his desk nameplate is "Hon. Fred R. Simpson" . This is also the name of the film's First Assistant Director. See more »


Near the end of the movie, during the ambulance chase, there are already skid marks on the road surface at the school crossing. These appear to be from previous takes on the scene as they match the ambulance's path perfectly. See more »


Vice Detective Michael Keneely: Wouldn't you think the man would've at least had the decency to stay for the sermon?
Vice Detective Patrick Farrel: The Lord's gonna smoke his ass!
See more »


References Gomer Pyle: USMC (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

A Bemused, Self-conscious and Dated Encapsulation of a Now Diluted Genre, and Entertaining Therefore
18 February 2011 | by (Cincinnati, OH, United States) – See all my reviews

Busting is a cop show encapsulated, purely episodic in structure as the two vice cop heroes team on various assorted cases, with unstable degrees of success. It's in keeping with the refreshing realism of this period in the film's genre, as it's exceedingly cynical, robustly indicating that crime does pay, and that the biggest criminals in society are dishonest politicians and businessmen who will never be penalized. Were the production not as befuddled and awkward, this rather poorly titled actioner could easily rank among the two French Connections, Bullitt and the Dirty Harry series.

Against an abrasive cityscape of backstreets and littered alleyways, Elliott Gould and Robert Blake star as vagabond vice squad detectives, the type who in actuality set the judicial system back decades. Elliott Gould, the tall one, incessantly chews bubble gum, ambles somewhat hunched and talks in the manner of someone fashioning himself on the star of an Elliott Gould movie, which is awesome. Robert Blake, an unlit cigarette inexplicably hanging from his lips, behaves like a guy who wishes he were tall and realizes he never will be. It doesn't trouble him, though it makes him a bit less compromising than most guys.

Gould and Blake inhabit their work lock, stock and barrel. They consume most of their time apprehending people who are more of a perceived threat to society than a real one: call girls, massage parlor staff and gay bar regulars. It's simply what they do to keep the wheels turning, like road cleaners. It's one of the existential quirks of Busting that when the vice boys do get mixed up in their work, when they find themselves pursuing the Mr. Big accountable for the considerable multi-million-dollar L.A. rackets in addition to the trivial ones, they get thumped, both by the crooks and by their Police Department superiors who may, it would seem, stand for the posture of the society whose protectors they are: The action sooner or later gets around to charging Allen Garfield, cast as a local peer of the realm, with practically all illegal goings-on in town. Garfield, as ever an exceptional actor, brings poise and a sense of being wholly together to the role.

As bemused as the Philip Marlowe Gould interpreted a year before in Altman's brilling Long Goodbye, this 1974 film was the first film by Hyams. His aptitude as a director is more apparent in this film than in any other he's done perhaps, especially in the visual highlights and in the performances. I have an idea that that the qualities of Gould and Blake, instead of the screenplay, are answerable for the distinctness provided the roles. They try a bit too hard for idiosyncrasy and funny habit, nonetheless they're effective at establishing particular characters.

Hyams engineered something of an achievement by crafting a rough cop film sans taking advantage of the right-wing scorn that warns us all to arm ourselves. I.e., it recognizes that when cops and robbers are firing guns at each other in open places, the lookers-on aren't impervious to the bullets. When Gould and Blake chase some heroin pushers through a supermarket in a continuous gunfight, the movie shares the panic of the bystanders to the extent that it does the tension of the pursuit. It's this plane of alertness that secedes this possibly pioneering buddy cop picture from the subsequent second-hand goods in marketeering mockery of the genre that was given that healthy dose of gritty reality in the 1970s, not only by transcendent pictures like The French Connection and classics like Dirty Harry, but even bargains like Busting.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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