|Index||5 reviews in total|
Talk about ego! In this movie, 5'8" 62-year old Frank Sinatra knocks around mob thugs and sends them home crying. Which for a film aiming for a realistic gritty tone, makes it hard to take seriously. Sinatra forms a special cop team to crack down on car thefts in New York City; the team is basically Michael Nouri as the idealistic kid, Henry Silva as the voice of reason (not something Silva was known for playing) and Harry Guardino as a vengeance crazed cop. Somehow, the dedicated team causes a gang war to erupt among the mob families and for a 1970's TV movie, there is a lot more violence than I would expect. The movie gets more and more out of control until Sinatra's mad dash to save the city at the end. Sinatra breaks so many rules, it is really hard to see how he would be able to stay out of jail, much less remain on the job. But hey, this is Sinatra's world and he makes the rules.
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.
In the 1970s, the TV networks put a lot of money into creating their
own collection of original films. The rationale was that they were
about as cheap as a series pilot (indeed some, like "Marcus Nelson
Murders" did become exactly that -- for "Kojak"; "The Night
Stalker/Strangler" for the Kolchak series), and did not entail
open-ended commitments like a series would.
This flick is certainly at the high-end of these (the low-end was things like "The Hard Ride" - - motorcycle-gang members with machine guns in Vietnam, in a low budget, low brow version of "Missing in Action"; the immortal "Killdozer"). Frank Sinatra shows his acting chops again (nearly for the last time, from here on there was only one episode of Magnum PI to be proud of), surrounded by the usual suspects of series TV and made-for-TV-movies (notably Harry Guardino, good as always.) The soundtrack is certainly movie-quality (as were most of this era's TV-movies.)
The movie suffers from having an enforced length -- 145 minutes to fill a 3-hour timeslot -- and thus there is painfully unnecessary padding of scenes and dialog, and long traveling shots with the obligatory shoe-leather-sound-effects. But there's a cracking good 90-100 minute movie in here.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Was this movie ever released on a DVD or even VHS? I'd love to get a copy. I liked it better than "The Detective". I'd enjoy hearing from any body who may know. I thought Frank and Harry Guardino were terrific together. Then again, I have a bunch of friends or were and are in the NYPD. He's gritty (Sinatra) and the plot was "metaphoric" cause we all know there are no vigilante's with badges, right. Nevertheless, being a NYC product I really enjoyed the flick. Perfect? No. But what flick is? I know, the original "Twelve Angry Men". I might add some 60+ year old NYPD Detectives might surprise you with their physical "outwardness". All in all, I'd love to locate a copy of the movie. Thank you in advance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Thoroughly average TV film has Sinatra and fellow cops resorting to murder
of gangsters to alleve their frustrations.
Early on I thought this would be an above average time, but it soon descends into the routine. Its main problem is that it's inconsistent in its pacing. Plus it is ridiculously overlong.
Only recommended to Sinatra fans; personally I got tired of viewing his tough cop bit.
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