Dave Anderson and Manny Durrell are two high-class sneak thieves who have never been caught. Joshua Burke is a retired detective who has enough evidence on the both of them to put them ... See full summary »
Dave Anderson and Manny Durrell are two high-class sneak thieves who have never been caught. Joshua Burke is a retired detective who has enough evidence on the both of them to put them behind bars. Instead, he offers to maintain his silence if the crooks will go straight and do work at a youth center for delinquents. At first, the crooks are reluctant and unwilling (and so are the kids). As time goes by they gain the trust and admiration of the kids and they start to enjoy the job. All goes well until someone out of the past tells them they have to do one last heist...or else... Written by
I've seen this film numerous times over the years. Most recently I introduced it to a new generation while removing my enamor for Poitier and Cosby and attempting to see it with a more critical eye. Even in purposely trying to criticize the film the best I could come up with is the Detective played by James Earl Jones makes Peter Falk's Columbo look like a sophomore. I never noticed it previously, but the recently retired cop character is observed looking at an empty safe in one scene and broken handcuffs in another, then meracuously he is able to deduce that our two favorite cons are responsible. Not only this, he is able to tell which one did which crime and exactly how. There is probably something that says that directors are allowed to bypass supplemental story details and cut to the chase. Now, having said this I return to my premise that this movie has so much heart, soul, and in comparison to many of today's silly comedies that seem to think that character development is not a requirement, it makes sense. The viewer actually gets a feel for the various personalities. Poitier is forever the straight man, humor deriving from his serious approach and competency amongst the unruly teens. Audiences can cheer and marvel at his ability to reach them. This is in contrast to the Ms. Thomas character who has a good heart but fails at getting through. Ms. Nichols plays a principal who is both beautiful and slick enough in the tongue to keep her enrollees at bay. Rather than gawdy scenes that provide momentary laughs through silliness, A Piece of the Action is a treasure in that it has numerous people interactions (Heart and Soul) that can be talked about for many years to come. For example, the young group I showed it to were able to pinpoint such scenes as "Tearful Testimony about little Timmy", "A Kick in the Butt for Something for Nothing",and "Barbara's Mad" as the easy favorites. While Cosby is naturally comical, his wooing of Nichols is more romantic. Consequently,the three favorite scenes by this poll do not involve Cosby, but rather Poitier and the young job seekers. This film is an integral part of my Black Film Presentations and I look forward to introducing to even more people.
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