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Sammy Davis Jr.
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The partner--and best friend--of a tough New York detective is murdered by killers working for a local mob. Infuriated at the inability of the Police Department to bring in the murderers, he decides--with the help of a few of his fellow detectives--to operate on his own, using whatever means necessary, to destroy the gang. Written by
Frank Sinatra clearly did not want Dirty Dingus Magee to be his movie career swan song. Seven years after that was released Sinatra did this made for television film Contract On Cherry Street which was good enough to have been a theatrically released film. Sad that the producers did not have enough faith in it. It's also good in that Sinatra turned in a real acting performance and did not rely on his hipster personality to walk through the part.
The Chairman Of The Board plays an NYPD police inspector who is in charge of an organized crime unit in the department. His problem is that no one really wants him to succeed because the wise guys have way too much juice and there are too many layers of underlings to wade through before the big guys could ever face justice.
Two Mafia families are currently rivals over a stolen car and chop shop racket and after a raid on a chop shop that one of them has, Sinatra's second in command Martin Balsam is killed by Johnny Barnes who is one mean psychotic button man. Sinatra then just blows him away even though Barnes wants to surrender.
No witnesses who would have talked would have blamed Sinatra or squealed on him, but Sinatra decides the only way to eliminate these people is for the cops to do their own hit on one of the Family heads and hope that starts a war. Then Murphy's law takes over and anything that can go wrong does.
Best performance in the film running slightly ahead of Sinatra is that of Harry Guardino who is one of Sinatra's cops and who hates Mafiosa from when he was a kid and saw his father forking over tribute to these people. He gets a real liking for the idea of being his own hit squad. Also Steve Inwood gets a real nice part and makes the most of it as a junkie informant that one of Sinatra's cops Michael Nouri has.
Contract On Cherry Street was filmed entirely in New York City and there are some real nice looks at the Big Apple at the time. I've heard it said that this film plays like an extended episode of Kojak. But I like Kojak.
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