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The Nickel Ride (1974)

PG | | Crime, Drama | 15 January 1975 (USA)
2:34 | Trailer
Small-time criminal Cooper manages several warehouses in Los Angeles that the mob use to stash their stolen goods. Known as "the key man" for the key chain he always keeps on his person ... See full summary »



1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
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Small-time criminal Cooper manages several warehouses in Los Angeles that the mob use to stash their stolen goods. Known as "the key man" for the key chain he always keeps on his person that can unlock all the warehouses, Cooper is assigned by the local syndicate to negotiate a deal for a new warehouse because the mob has run out of storage space. However, Cooper's superior Carl gets nervous and decides to have cocky cowboy button man Turner keep an eye on Cooper. Written by Woodyanders

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The action was his life... without it he was dead. See more »


Crime | Drama


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 January 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El hombre clave  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Selected by Quentin Tarantino for the First Quentin Tarantino Film Fest in Austin, Texas, 1996. See more »


The Nickel Ride Theme
Written by Dave Grusin and Peggy Lee
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User Reviews

Late-noir crime story drips with 70s angst but needs tighter hand at the reins
23 February 2003 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

With its murky, monochrome photography and jangly, percussive score, The Nickel Ride could be mistaken as a film from no other decade than the 1970s. That was when the feel and the technique of movies were breaking away from the `well-made' mold enforced by studios over the previous 40 years. Some directors pioneered those changes, helping to freshen film from staled conventions by finding looser, more oblique ways to tell a story; others jumped on the bandwagon, unsure of where it was headed or quite how to get there. Robert Altman was such a pioneer; Robert Mulligan, who directed The Nickel Ride, wasn't.

Like The Friends of Eddie Coyle of two years earlier (for which David Grusin also, as here, wrote the music),The Nickel Ride inhabits the talking-big-but-living-low world of organized crime at its lower strata. Also like Eddie Coyle, it takes as its subject the last-ditch schemes and final days of a loser. Jason Miller plays a small-time operator who has his fingers in a lot of shady pies: fixing fights, middle-manning hot merchandise, even hawking bail bonds. He seems to have a past as a grifter on the carny circuit, where he met his `cracker' wife (Linda Haynes), a hoochie-coochie dancer.

Miller has secured an old commercial site with bays into which trucks can disgorge their hijacked merchandise; he hopes it will become an irresistible depot for stowing contraband. But he keeps getting the runaround from his superior, John Hillerman. Next emerges a `Cadillac cowboy' (Bo Hopkins) who Miller comes to believe has been engaged to kill him. But he falls back on the swagger and bluster that have turned him into a local hero, postures that cut little ice in the ever more impersonal and cutthroat world of crime gone corporate....

Mulligan opts to let his story just sort of happen; unfortunately, we viewers need a little more help. Sorting out the many characters and their relationships becomes a chore, and often, thanks to the abrupt cuts, we don't know where we are or why we're there. And though a large part of the movie's strength is its raffish urban milieu, even that stays unspecific (I thought it took place in lower Manhattan, but it's set and shot in Los Angeles). The Nickel Ride is an existential downer of a mid-70s crime thriller, like Eddie Coyle and Hickey and Boggs. But, unlike The Nickel Ride, that last title (directed by Robert Culp, in his sole directorial outing) brightened its bleak vision with sharper moviemaking skills.

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