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The Big Black Pill (1981)

TV Movie  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery  -  29 January 1981 (USA)
5.6
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 53 users  
Reviews: 6 user

Joe dancer is a private detective working in LA. He's given a big money case by Tiffany Farinpour, one of the Farinpour family who include powerful politicians. Tiffany needs Joe to find ... See full summary »

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Title: The Big Black Pill (TV Movie 1981)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Joe Dancer
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Tiffany Farrenpour
Neva Patterson ...
Eliza Farinpour
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Captain Jake Jacqualone
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Sister Theresa
Carol Wayne ...
Allegra Farinpour
Edward Winter ...
Jerrold Farinpour
Phillip R. Allen ...
Commissioner Wilkie
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Charlie
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Sister Clara
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Wally Haskell
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David Farinpour
...
Trotter
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Robert Phillips ...
Little Al
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Storyline

Joe dancer is a private detective working in LA. He's given a big money case by Tiffany Farinpour, one of the Farinpour family who include powerful politicians. Tiffany needs Joe to find her younger brother David who has left the family under a cloud. However in trying to find David Joe is warned off by several thugs before finally finding David in a small town just trying to live a quiet life. Seconds later David is killed by a hidden assassin and Joe finds all evidence of his life in the town has been erased and Joe is facing a murder charge. With the clock ticking Joe must find the killer in a plot that involves danger and deep family secrets. Written by Paul Hunter aka "Bob the Moo"

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Genres:

Crime | Drama | Mystery

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29 January 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Joe Dancer  »

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Followed by Murder 1, Dancer 0 (1983) See more »

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One long Bogart impression
10 December 2001 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Joe dancer is a private detective working in LA. He's given a big money case by Tiffany Farinpour, one of the Farinpour family who include powerful politicians. Tiffany needs Joe to find her younger brother David who has left the family under a cloud. However in trying to find David Joe is warned off by several thugs before finally finding David in a small town just trying to live a quiet life. Seconds later David is killed by a hidden assassin and Joe finds all evidence of his life in the town has been erased and Joe is facing a murder charge. With the clock ticking Joe must find the killer in a plot that involves danger and deep family secrets.

The story here wants to be really shady and deep, but it doesn't totally make it. There's some mystery along the way but the final twists are clear once the plot starts to come together. The sense of deep family secrets isn't convincing - this is a TV movie after all, how dark can it be? However, even when the plot is being a good crime thriller it becomes lazy in it's solutions. At some points I was grabbed by the plot - who was the killer? who wanted David dead? but then at key moments the answers come too easy - the killer cleans up all bullet casings and remove David's possessions but leaves his prescription glasses at the scene, in another Joe walks for miles only to find the exact spot a gunman had stood. Things like this (and there's several) let the whole film down and make you forget the build-up and only remember the rubbish answers.

Another problem is Robert Blake he so clearly wants to Humphrey Bogart that he created this character to let him get close to those hard-boiled detective roles that Bogart played so well (Dancer even points out that he has all Bogart's films on tape at home). At one point in the film one character says "we don't have to say anything stupid like in the movies do we?", but the problem is we do - the whole film consists of poor dialogue, mostly delivered by Blake. The worst element of his Bogart impression is his voice over/narration - it's terrible. While Bogart's voiceovers usually gave an insight into his mind and feelings, Blake's treats us like children, walking us through the plot and the clues, not allowing us to work things out for ourselves. In some cases whole scenes are narrated with the action happening silently underneath. It makes this feel cheap with the Bogart-isms forced to breaking point.

The performances are not great - no one really stands out. The only actor that caught my eye was Bubba Smith but only because he later found "fame" as Hightower in the Police Academy films. Overall the performances were as good as the material required.

Overall a good plot that is spoilt by some lazy solutions and a terrible Bogart impression by Robert Blake.


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