The Choirboys (1977) Poster


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Pretty close to the real thing...I know
digitalzen-121 January 2006
I was a cop with about 10 years on the street when I read Wambaugh's book, and figured the movie would be terrible. I thought Altman and his crew caught both the flavor of the book and of life on the mean streets of LA dead on.

Maybe you had to have been there. I was a great Hill Street fan (still am), but it was sanitized for TV, and much less like the real thing because of needing to maintain a plot line. Life ain't like that, and neither was The Choir Boys.

Cop humor is hard to fathom for outsiders. Cops are, in fact, a minority group anthropologically, meeting all the same criteria. Life out there doesn't go from A to B to C. It's chaotic. So was the movie, a little. Good job of catching the feeling.
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I loved the book and the movie, sorry.
m-knell28 March 2008
It seems like we're supposed to hate this one but I loved it, I'm sorry but there you go.

Maybe it was because it came out at the time when punk had just happened. To me the book & the movie were such a break from the usual stereotypical pro-authority nonsense we were being regularly served up at the time (and sadly we seem to have gotten back to these days).

Naturally the book was, by far, the better experience (a genuine 'laugh out loud' read to be highly recommended) but nevertheless I found both hilarious and a long overdue reality check on the forelock tugging blind belief in benevolent and always virtuous 'authority' (something which applies well outsides of the confines of any Police unit too).

I think it's a real pity we seem to have lost that very healthy irreverence & scepticism and are today saddled with way too much haughty hard-faced tedium and an expectation that we blindly trust authority figures.
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To each his own
nearhood17 April 2006
Once again I am forced to defend a decent movie. I saw this movie when it came out, I was in college. I thought it was very funny and was a blend of comedy and drama that was above most of the other fair at that time. I saw it again recently and while it had perhaps lost a little of its luster I thought it was still pretty funny. Of course, if you don't like anyone saying politically incorrect things (even if that person is presented as a total moron) then you might be too "delicate" to appreciate the humor.

Tim McIntyre was hilarious as Roscoe Rules and there was a young Randy Quaid, and James Woods as well. Charles Durning is effective in this film and far from hating the ending, I thought it was not "Upbeat" but rather merely stopped the movie from being a total downer.
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Two movies in one.
gridoon21 September 2002
"The Choirboys" is essentially made of two different movies: the first half (and more) is a plotless, "Police Academy" -type (even if it was made several years earlier) comedy, and a fairly consistently UNfunny one, too. It's not that the gags aim mostly at a juvenile level (which they do); it's that they are simply not funny 90% of the time. In its second hour, the movie takes a sharp left turn toward drama, and surprisingly this part works better. But beware! There is a truly immoral finale that will annoy you if you take it seriously. (**)
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Hateable, execrable, reactionary, apologist vomit
Warning: Spoilers
Robert Aldrich is one of the greatest directors of all time, of the films I've seen he produced two stone-cold all-time classics, 'Kiss Me Deadly' and 'Ulzana's Raid', one of my favourite guilty pleasures 'The Dirty Dozen', as well as highly notable cult films such as The Killing of Sister George and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and I'm sure many others I haven't seen. He was a prolific director noted for being able to film to a high standard in different genres and styles, defying the auteur theory of current popularity. Quite how then he created such an incredibly offensive movie then is a matter to ponder over and only worth considering because of the director's fame.

The film focuses on a group of puerile, violent, immoral patrol officers and their antics. Once a week they take over the local park for drunken hilarity, and shooting at ducks. Choir practice as they call it. It is hard to think of a more dislikeable bunch. We have uber-redneck Officer Roscoe Rules who enjoys beating up homosexuals; Officer 'Spermwhale' Whalen whose hobby is to continually question authority, undermine his department, and generally spread bad vibes; Officer 'Balls' Hadley, and his good lady, officer 'No Balls' Hadley, the continuous butt of sexual harassment and discrimination; Sergeant Scuzzi (played by Burt Young of Rocky fame) an unkempt unwashed slob from vice who everyone thinks is the precinct janitor; Officer Francis Tanaguchi, the squad's pet 'gook'. etc. These guys are more interested in playing pranks on their superiors and starting fights with 'greasers' than in protecting and serving.

What is astonishing is that apparently the portrayal of this scurvy bunch is actually realistic of police behaviour of the time. Some people think that this redeems the movie, I would suggest however that the treatment of these officers is far too sympathetic. We are supposedly meant to rejoice at the end when all officers involved in the shooting of an innocent gay teenager receive slaps on the wrist. The treatment of homosexuals as simpering, lisping queens is incredibly offensive, particularly the gentleman in the park walking a pink poodle and savouring an encounter with 'a naked man tied to a tree'.

Another reviewer claims that you can't expect much more off of a bunch of Vietnam vets with only high-school diplomas, my goodness have ideals sunk so low? I remember a scene in the film 'Electra Glide in Blue' when a Vietnam Vet who was a highway patrolman gave a 'perp' who was also a vet advice that he couldn't use his service record as an excuse to drop out and behave badly. There is much better moral authority from that movie. No-one needs an excuse for failure, and definitely the officers in this movie have none.

I think the film promotes a stereotypical view of sadomasochism and vice in general, and because it is apologist and even sympathetic in it's approach to the immorality and more importantly extreme irresponsibility of the police officers, I would call it a truly Fascist movie.
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Read the book
Nomad-722 August 1998
This is not a bad adaptation of Wambaughs book until the end. For some reason someone decided the movie needed an up-beat ending and blew the black ending of the book.
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EXCELLENT Example of 1970's Black Comedies!!!! Awesome Cast!!
zatoichi10118 January 2007
The Choirboys is flat-out one of my all-time favorite movies!!! I have read the list of reviews here, and the positive ones are more insightful than most of the negative reviews, which consist mainly of "moronic," "insulting," "an outrage," ... blah, blah, blah (or more precisely "wah, wah, wah").

Don't listen to them -- this is an EXCELLENT movie. Mind you, it won't win any academy awards, but the cast is a who's who of Hollywood superstars. But, of course, they weren't stars when this movie was made -- they were really just breaking into the business, for the most part. Heck, James Woods alone is worth the price of admission!! And do keep in mind that this movie was made 30 years ago -- the cinematography and over-all feel is kind of dark, although there are some hilarious scenes! And I do not apologize for any part of this movie -- of all "police comedies" it is by far the most "real," in that I can imagine very easily a department EXACTLY like the one depicted. (In fact, I MISS the days when cops were REAL PEOPLE -- and not a bunch of ex-Marine Drill Instructors akin to Robocops (no offense to The Marines -- but you know what I mean, don't you?).

Choir Practice, in the movie, is, of course, the weekly drinking fest where the boys (and girls) blow off steam. And typical of 70's movies, there is more than one story going on at the same time -- and a good deal of time is spent developing the array of characters, all with stories of their own.

I like this movie -- and if you like Dirty Harry and think he is AWESOME for KICKING ASS, if you think this world has gotten WAY TO PC for comfort, if you like to party and make no excuses for it -- then you will like this movie, too!
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Staggeringly awful cop flick, allegedly a black comedy (but you'll look long and hard for any trace of humour!)
Jonathon Dabell30 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Director Robert Aldrich doesn't often deliver a film that falls in the middle ground. Most of the time, Aldrich's name on the film either guarantees a good movie or an absolutely terrible one. The Choirboys is Aldrich at his very worst – if you thought The Grissom Gang and Hustle were bad, you ain't seen nothing yet! It is a tasteless and repetitively episodic story, a complete mess of a film which merely reinforces the very prejudices that it is supposedly criticising. Nothing about the film works, not even slightly. Joseph Wambaugh, who penned the original novel upon which the movie is based, was so appalled at this travesty that he took legal action to have his name removed from the credits! That should tell you all you need to know.

A unit of L.A. cops spend their shifts patrolling the city in search of violence and sleaze. When they're on duty they are little better than thugs with a badge, dishing out justice with total disregard for moral standards and public safety. When they're off duty they are even worse, spending their nights getting drunk in a local park and acting like hooligans. Slowly but surely, each character's motivations are revealed. For example, Officer Sam Lyles (Don Stroud) is shown to be an ex-Vietnam vet whose wartime experiences have left him claustrophobic. In one harrowing scene, he flips out whilst drunk in a locked police van and kills a hustler, a shocking act that the higher echelons of the L.A. force are only too keen to cover up. A pair of cops (Randy Quaid, Tim McIntire) are assigned to talk a suicide jumper down from a high-rise building, but their approach is so unsubtle and aggressive that she ends up flinging herself to her death. One cop, the handsome all-American Baxter Slate (Perry King), is found out as a kinky sex addict and disowned by his colleagues, leading to such personal shame that he commits suicide. And so it goes…. the cops continually foul up one job after another with their trigger-happy attitudes, their racist and sexist unprofessionalism, and their reckless disregard for true law and order.

There are those who hail The Choirboys as a blackly comic expose of the police profession. But in truth there is nothing funny about this horrible little film. Aldrich virtually hammers us over the head with extreme vulgarity and offensiveness to make his point, and the approach is so heavy-handed and unpleasant that the film becomes a challenge to sit through. The cast of terrific actors are particularly embarrassing in their thankless roles, none more so than Lou Gossett Jr, Charles Durning and Robert Webber (the latter especially degraded by his part as a callous superior officer with an immoral personal agenda). Christopher Knopf's screenplay offers no glimmer of salvation for the gallery of slimeball characters, so that as the film comes to an end after its interminable two hours the viewer is left with a nasty taste in the mouth and an empty feeling in the stomach. Avoid The Choirboys – it's one of the worst of all-time!
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Offensive and Reactionary
dave bumsh uk14 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Now, before you think I'm just part of some uptight moral majority that posts disgust at any film that goes beyond the pale, let me just state for the record that I'm really not easily offended. It's not so much the constant homophobia, racism & sexism in 'The Choirboys' that really got my goat (reprehensible though much of this is). It's the sheer, unabashed hypocricy that this film displays that really got this viewer steaming...

'The Choirboys'' would simply LOVE to convince you that it's a wild, anti-establishment, anarchic comedy-drama a la Robert Altman's 'MASH', when in reality it's simply one of the most morally conservative, shockingly reactionary and damned mean-spirited movies released to theatres during the 1970's. I'm surprised that William Friedkin's movie 'Cruising' is still remembered today as the ultimate in offensive stereotyping - viewing it now, it just seems too arch, OTT and plain ridiculous to really take seriously. But 'The Choirboys' does indeed remain as repugnant today as the day it was released (and disavowed by it's author).

*SPOILERS* The tone in the movie is chaotic, to say the least: from the sub-'Police Academy' comedy sequences (painful) to the soap-opera level intelligence of the supposedly raw, dramatic moments (which range from mildly offensive to "what the hell were they thinking?"). And the ending? Well, a Vietnam Vet cop (who feels guilty about causing the suicide of his 'pervert' friend, just coz the poor guy liked a bit of private, consensual S&M), freaks out and shoots "a park fag" in the neck, and we then witness the central character (Charles Durning) get everyone off of the ensuing murder charge - and director Aldrich swiftly makes it clear that we're supposed to be cheering these b**tards on! - (cue end titles, which run to a soundtrack of the main cast sneering and laughing maniacally in turn... which is disturbing on WAAAAY more levels than the film-makers planned, let me tell you). *SPOILERS END*

No doubt the filmmakers themselves, alongside a handful of critics, will have you believe that 'hey - this is the way it really is', and that 'The Choirboys' is in fact some gritty, underrated urban classic that refuses to pull it's punches. Balls. 'The Choirboys' is a rabid dog of a movie - a cackling, vitriolic excercise that seems to hate modernity, reality and humanity itself. Don't degrade yourself by giving this disowned puppy two hours of your time...
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Definitely a cop's movie
brianh3217 December 2006
Before you go on to complain about this movie, you need to realize it was filmed 30 years ago. I was 1 year old when this movie came out and I have grown up around cops.

I have very little doubt these antics used to go on but now they are left as a part of history.

How do you expect a group of guys with a high school diploma, Vietnam war service and a thankless job to behave? Have you ever gotten off work so late the bars are closed but you want to blow off some steam about the things that happened to you? Where do you go when the bars are closed? Just as Blazing Sadles could not be filmed today, I don't think you could film this movie either. I doubt society or departments approved of this behavior but I am certain a blind eye was turned. Now since the Rampart scandal, Rodney King and other incidents nobody can do this anymore.

If you want to try to understand why this movie is funny, try doing a Google search for, "Why cops hate you"
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It's too stupid to be satirical--and too offensive to be funny
moonspinner5516 June 2007
Joseph Wambaugh disowned this film-adaptation of his bestseller about department low-lifes within the Los Angeles police force, but the experience probably shamed him anyway--and anyone who gets through the picture will feel shame for him. Half-assed mixture of smut-minded hijinks and 'sobering' cop drama is so sloppily constructed I am amazed director Robert Aldrich didn't remove his name as well. Aldrich, once a filmmaker of merit, seems to have nothing on his agenda here except earning a paycheck (ditto cinematographer Joseph Biroc, who does some of the gloppiest, ugliest work I have ever seen in a major movie). The mostly-male cast members continually smirk and leer throughout (it's difficult to distinguish the characters' loutish behavior from the actual actors themselves--everyone comes off looking pathetic). The low-point of the movie comes when snarling cop Tim McIntire (in a career-ending turn) is hand-cuffed to a tree without his pants and is spotted by a mincing homosexual. McIntire threatens to tear out the guy's liver and break his spleen if he comes near him. Everyone on screen is doubled over with laughter, but the viewer is the butt of the joke. * from ****
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Group of cops get their loyalty tested by the system and a serious incident.
dale-516493 December 2015
I wish they still made movies like this. By that I mean one that has some sympathy for the adult male of the species.

This group of cops is varied in their attitudes , some bigoted, some liberal, some in the middle; just like civilians and real cops. The first part of the movie shows a lot of vice work and dated but funny comic routines, at a time when a single mother and a baby were not always inserted into every story. These cops go about arresting gays and prostitutes before laws and attitudes had changed.

The film was made in 1977, and for those too young to have lived it I am sure there are many cringe inducing scenes. One important and anachronistic episode shows an S&M hooker being caught physically abusing one of the police officer friends. The cops friend handles the hooker roughly , mad that she hurt his friend, and warns her to get lost.

If this film were made today, the hooker would be a single mother with a heart of gold, and the cop would be sneered at for being in this position to begin with. It was refreshing to see a movie with some sympathy for an adult male character, before the Hollywood mantra became "women can do whatever they want, men don't matter." Later in the film one of the cops with PTSD gets himself in trouble when he over reacts, and his friends try to cover for him. I have seen some younger viewers write that they were offended by the blue code of silence. I wonder if they would have been as offended if the perpetrator were a single mother and the victim was a man. I doubt it.
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What Went Wrong ?
Theo Robertson30 May 2005
On paper this should have been excellent . We have Robert Aldrich who made some very intelligent , cynical movies like ATTACK , THE DIRTY DOZEN , TOO LATE THE HERO and ULZANA'S RAID directing a novel by acclaimed author Joseph Wambaugh and featuring amongst others notable actors like Louis Gosset Jnr and James Woods before they became well known . But since it was made on celluloid and not on paper that doesn't appear to count for very much

THE CHOIRBOYS is a mess . There's little plot to speak off and is so cluttered up with characters that it's impossible to understand where the screenplay is going and of the characters themselves they're very unlikable . Since the characters are amoral policeman I thought perhaps someone had the idea of making this as a precursor to HILL STREET BLUES and I guess somewhere along the line that's what the intention was , of an off beat black comedy but the writing , directing and acting is so heavy handed it's like watching a very bad adult version of POLICE ACADEMY with only the sequence of a man taking his pink poodle in the park coming close to raising a smile

Did I start this review by asking what went wrong ? After seeing the movie in its entirety I feel I now have to ask did anything go right ?
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The funniest f....n movie i have ever seen !!
satriani787 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
To all you people who have said this movie sucks Go F... yourselves !! This movie is funny from start to finish.

In this age of political correctness it is good to venture back to a time where people could and did laugh at themselves. You seldom get the chance to watch movies like this anymore so watch this one.

Roscoe Rules make this movie with his quotes throughout. " I'm going to rip that oily little old mustache right off your face"


Good acting

Not politically correct at all

Will have you in stitches

If cops were only like this
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What's Going On?
sol121830 March 2006
(Slight Spoilers) Running neck and neck with the ridicules "Exorcist II: the Hieratic" as the worst movie of 1977 "The Chiorboys" is about the most off-the-wall cop movie ever made that was so bad that even the book's author Joseph Wambaugh,that the movie is based on, disowned it never wanting to be mentioned in the same breath with the film.

Having a bunch of beer and booze guzzling as well as mentally unstable LA police officers make complete fools of themselves is not very funny as the movie want's it's audience to think. These yo-yo's end up causing more trouble to the community as well as themselves then any gang of street thugs could possibly do and were supposed to like them? There are a number of cops who have very serious mental hang-ups that leads to suicide and in the case of police officer Sam Lyles, Don Stroud, involuntary manslaughter but what that shows is how lax the LAPD is in allowing men with serious mental problems into it ranks.

The cops in the movie "The Chiorboys" screw up almost ever assignment that their put on but what get's them in trouble is when Lyles, drunk and locked up in a police paddy wagon, goes wacko and blows away a park hustler when he tried to help him. Were shown at the beginning of the movie that Lyles has been suffering from a sever case of claustrophobia since he was in Vietnam but yet he managed to get into the LAPD where, being assigned a deadly weapon, he may very well be put in tight places where his phobia would take over his common sense.

There's also the sad case of officer Baxter Slate, Perry King, who's suffering from very dark sexual hangups dealing with S&M that leads him to get involved with a dominatrix. When discovered getting his rocks off by his fellow cops Baxter begs them for help, all Baxter wanted was for them to talk to him, but is ignored which leads to him, feeling ashamed and abundant, shooting himself.

With these two cases of police driven to he edge and beyond it's very hard to find anything funny in the movie that's supposed to be a police comedy/drama about the inner workings of the LAPD. Remarkably the most touching and understanding scene in the movie has to do with the uncouth and scuzzy head of the vice squad Sgt. Scuzzi, Burt Young. Talking to a young man picked up for soliciting in the park Sgt. Scuzzi takes the time to talk to him and treats the frightened 18 year-old with kindness and understanding like a father not a hardened cop on the beat. It turned out that Scuzzi letting the boy off without being booked didn't end his problems with him getting shot and killed later in the movie.

Very uneven at best and mindless and offensive, to every race color and creed, at worse "The Chiorboys" totally misses the mark that it, and author Joseph Wambaugh in his book, tried to make about the pressures of being a policeman in a major US city. We get a bunch of stories of cops who are so unstable and unprofessional that they come across worse then any of the criminals in the movie and end up getting the worse of it when their ever called upon to arrest or restrain them. There's even a very disturbing scene when two of the cops Rules & Proust, Tim Mcintire & Randy Quaid, are on a roof trying to stop a woman from jumping to her death. Rules encourages instead of trying to talk her out of it where she ends up jumping to her death.

The very contrive ending with officer Whalen, Charles Durning, confronting his boss Chief Deputy Riggs, Robert Webber, about him suspending some half-dozen officers, involved in the cover-up of the Lyles shooting was about as corny and unconvincing as it could get. That was supposed to be the high point in the movie that would make you forget just how silly and hare-brained it was up until then. Instead of making the movie "The Chiorboys" better it made it even worse if that at all was possible.
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Easily the worst film I've seen this year
Stephen Bailey31 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
My TV guide gave this movie 3 ticks (out of 4) and described it as a "gritty police thriller". They should be sued! The ONLY reason i stayed watching was that I couldn't believe how truly awful this film is, from start to finish. There's no plot and all the characters are unrealistic. Even James Woods and Robert Webber never seemed like real cops. It doesn't fit into any 'genre', except terrible. The 1970s sexism and the Japanese-American character (playing a racial stereotype) are plain embarrassing. I'm sure that all the actors involved in this rubbish (particularly James Woods) must cringe at every mention of it. To be avoided at all costs.
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JasparLamarCrabb27 April 2006

Atrocious! THE CHOIRBOYS features a lot of violence that just TOO violent and a lot of really unfunny stuff that does nothing to offset it. Director Robert Aldrich really missteps with this garbage. It's a rambling, offensive, woman hating, gay hating, people hating movie. The cast, largely made up of character actors who've done great work in the past, is truly wasted. Charles Durning is OK as "Sperm Whale," but the rest of the actors, particularly Tim McIntire and Perry King, are extremely annoying; mugging it up, trying to be cool-funny. King has a particularly regrettable scene with sexy dominatrix Phyllis Davis and then kills himself! You know something is off when the only real sane person around is played by James Woods! With Randy Quaid, Robert Webber and Charles Haid.

It's all a senseless waste of a lot of talent.
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Possibly the worst film ever made
Marco Trevisiol30 January 2006
I first saw this film over a decade ago and recalling from what I saw of it to be an abysmally lame and foul film. I then decided to have a second look a couple of years ago to see whether my initial reaction was correct and, if anything, I was too kind to it.

This is as bad a film as I've ever seen. It's not just because the film has gutter-level humour and is relentlessly crude. It's not just because it's technically inept and cheap, with 'outside' scenes obviously filmed on interior sets. And it's not just because a good cast and director is wasted on such a filthy, demeaning film.

Above all, what makes this film so wretched is the inherent dishonesty of this film, that it's an 'anti-establishment' film in the style of MASH. The notion is totally absurd when the subject of the film is one of the central pillars of the establishment in society - the police force. This is why their 'rebellious' behaviour is mainly targeted at the oppressed like homosexuals.

Genuinely 'anti-establishment' films of this era had the heroes attack the privileged, elitist echelons of the college scene (Animal House) or the armed forces (MASH). 'The Choirboys' is the direct opposite and a completely repellent 'establishment' film.
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30 years on we're not all singing from the same hymn sheet.......
ianlouisiana15 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Never forget that we are watching "The Choirboys" with 30years of hindsight.When it was first released in England I was a policeman in north - east London and the manager of the local cinema distributed free tickets to the local nick which,of course,we all took advantage I found it a fairly accurate picture of how cops all over the world let off steam and,in times of trouble,hang together lest they be hanged separately. I suspect you'd need to have been a big city cop to have fully appreciated the strain of working in a hostile environment where nobody but other cops is coming to help you if it all kicks off.So you look out for your colleagues,and when it hits the fan you all shelter under the same umbrella.Or at least you did back in 1977. And that's the way it was.In London,in L.A.,Berlin or Hong Kong or any other town with a street life I guess. The street life has of course carried on indeed become emboldened by the gradual lessening of will within the upper echelons of the police service to deal with it effectively.Now with so many "isms" pointed in their direction,cops in general are reluctant to enforce the law with regard to any but the most serious offences committed by street people.They have become the beneficiaries of what is known as the "Free Ride Act". Clearly knee - jerk liberals will see this as "a good thing" as they drink their latte macchiatoes made with soya milk.But it was a great deal safer to walk through the streets of London at night in 1977 than it is today. The depiction of a gay man with a pink poodle seems to have excited particular rage amongst reviewers,almost as if no gay man would be seen dead with a pink poodle,come on fellers,is it really an outrageous sexual slur?And of course sadomasochists are people too,we all know that but must we necessarily laud their unusual preferences?Or can we say we find them distinctly odd?Probably not on reflection. But in watching "The Choirboys" we are watching history.It is not our place to judge the attitudes of people 30 years ago, neither should we be in a hurry to just in case they decide to judge ours in turn. This movie is a reflection of its time,the LAPD cops merely a microcosm of American society at the time the movie was made. So,apart from its appalling political incorrectness,does it have much merit as a movie?No,not really,apart from a terrific cast.Mr Aldrich's films are usually full of sound and fury but very little of substance. If you think of "The Choirboys" as a sort of "Dirty Dozen" on the streets of L.A. you won't go far wrong.Bear in mind that isn't necessarily a recommendation.
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Bottom of the barrel
preppy-320 February 2006
Justly forgotten black "comedy" of a bunch of immature alcoholic policeman and their disgusting behavior in and out of uniform.

The plot is vague (to say the least) and the humor is either unfunny or just revolting. The film is chockful of offensive humor--there's racism, sexism (all the female characters I saw were hookers) and extreme homophobia (the gay guy with the pink poodle was just horrendous). Full of unpleasant characters.

I watched this on cable. 30 minutes in I was horrified--I was going to turn it off but I kept it on because this DOES have a cast of well-known actors. But (after another lousy half hour) I turned it off. It's really hard to believe such a talented director with such a good cast would make THIS! Also the author of the book this is based on disowned this. That should tell u something. When not offensive this is just dull. You don't see any of the actors in this gloating about doing this. Avoid.
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Just one of several reasons...
Michael Zimmers23 August 2004
...that truly excellent novels shouldn't be made into movies. Actually, Joseph Wambaugh (the author of _The Choirboys_ had several bad experiences with Hollywood directors mangling his work (The New Centurion, The Blue Knight), to the extent that he blasted the film biz in his scathing _Glitter Dome_.

In defense of director Robert Aldrich, Wambaugh's humor must be nearly impossible to convey through acting, but by the same token, it doesn't even appear that a good effort was made in this film, which seems to attempt to capitalize on a few lurid episodes of the novel that, when woven into the overall story, do much to characterize rarely-seen sides of police life, but when portrayed sheerly for shock value, kick this film squarely into "B" movie territory. It's a shame, since some decent acting performances (such as Louis Gossett Jr's) are evident, but they founder in this effort.

Overall: instead of renting the movie, buy the paperback. Infinitely more entertaining.
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Appalling, Heavy-Handed Sitcom Treatment of Police Classic
cottrellpj17 August 2000
OK, I had to buy this one for $8 Canadian from Chapters, as I'm a huge fan of Wambaugh's book. This film is so bad it's almost good. A reasonably talented cast completely wasted, in its' own way it's worse than the film adaptation of "Catch 22". The supposedly funny scenes are ruined by poor direction, the sets are incredibly cheap and the "uproarious" ending is a travesty.
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A good start to a terrible finish
Homer90015 December 2007
This was a lame attempt at adapting a great book about a group of cops and the toll their work takes on their humanity. The true humor, pathos and irony that was in the book is missing on the screen. We see the antics described by Wambaugh in the book on the screen, but we don't know why these celluloid cops act the way they do. It could have been a simple matter of a narrator or voice overs by the characters to give some insight into the psyche of these characters. Instead, we are left with the juvenile antics of a group of drunken cops prone to sexual deviance and a disregard for the public, without the public knowing why. Watched it once, I won't waste my time to watch it again.
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This ain't Dragnet
bkoganbing19 December 2017
I like to think that The Choirboys is Joseph Wambaugh's way of showing the police at play. His novel The New Centurions showed police at work. In both cases they work hard they play hard as well and sometimes combine both.

For those who grew up as I did with Dragnet as the way we thought of police The Choirboys couldn't be father from Jack Webb's straight laced view of cops than Mercury is to Pluto. This film follows a group of cops who can't share a bond with any other than themselves.

It's a fraternity no doubt and these guys carry on like frat boys. Oddly enough if you remember Goodfellas Lorraine Bracco observed that the Henry Hills never hung out with anyone other than other criminals and their significant others.

So much so that the group of them all hang out with Tim McIntire who none of them can stand. He's a pretty loathsome character, a racist redneck and a bully, still he's one of the guys.

Two of them come to a bad end for differing reasons, all of them are in a jackpot where Chief Robert Webber is looking to nail The Choirboys to the wall. The oldest of them saves them, but you'll have to see how.

The oldest of them is Charles Durning who at 53 is still on street patrol. He's basically a non-conforming guy who more than likely screwed up big time when he was young and now just doesn't give a crap. He'd like to just coast out for his 20 years and he's months away.

The Choirboys is something I'm surprised a police officer as Joseph Wambaugh was would write. I look at like Jim Bouton's book Ball Four and that less than reverent book of the New York Yankees in his stay there. This is kind of the stuff you definitely leave in the clubhouse.

This review is dedicated to my nephew Colin James Kogan who is a member of the NYPD going now on his third year. I told him that whatever it takes get off the street as soon as you can and never be Charles Durning when he reaches middle age.
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As enjoyable as a car crash!
Van_Zan15 December 2003
I had the misfortune of seeing this "movie" a few nights ago.

Now I've seen a lot of films that have been tagged as turkeys in one way or another but despite all the negativity surrounding them they were still watchable in some way.

The same cannot be said of "The Choirboys".

Because it has no plot its similar to watching a home video of a group of people, none of whom you know or care about, simply goofing around.

However here its worse as you have usually super actors such as James Woods making utter idiots of themselves. None of their supposed "comedic" moments are funny but instead leave you with a sense of revulsion.

The film fails on so many levels and is quite frankly an abomination.
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