|Index||3 reviews in total|
Joe Dancer (Robert Blake) literally has his next case fall into his lap
(actually, his windshield) when a pizza delivery boy is thrown onto his
car. Dancer kills the 17-year-old boy, but his gumshoe ways have him
suspicious from the outset and he starts to dig deeper. What he
discovers is a interweaving story involving a Hollywood studio, a top
star, and the porn biz.
The third Joe Dancer film, this is actually a great improvement over the first, mainly because it drops the femme fatale cliché and deals with something more contemporary for the time period. Having Blake deal with the decrepit underbelly of Hollywood is a nice change of pace, even if it is creepy hearing Blake talk about a big Hollywood star who killed someone. The action quotient has also been upped and there is a great car-versus-helicopter chase that features some scary moments where the actors being chased on foot look like they are a few feet from being sliced up. Like THE BIG BLACK PILL, there are tons of recognizable faces on display here including Kenneth McMillan, William Prince, Sam Anderson, Royal Dano, Harry Caesar, and Sydney Lassick (as a porn kingpin!).
On a side note, the IMDb has a listing for this under this title and also (incorrectly I assume) MURDER ONE, DANCER ZERO.
Although I rate the movie as only fair overall, I recommend it for fans
of Robert Blake and for film noir and neo-noir fans. The quality of the
movie suffers at times from overacting and choppy story construction.
It benefits from the spunky and earthy qualities of the lead character,
private detective Joe Dancer. He confronts the Hollywood executives and
is unimpressed by movie stars and titles. He's intelligent and figures
things out quite rapidly. Blake does a lot of voice over narration and
does it well, and this connects the movie to some noirs of old. In its
portrayal of Hollywood decadence and corruption, it is neo-noir, as
well as in the uphill fight of a lone detective against powerful men
and police who sit on their hands. It's mainly in some clumsiness in
the film making itself that I rate it 5 instead of 6.
The story has many action scenes and events, far more than a more typical and sleepier detective yarn. You will not fall asleep. One extended stunt involves a helicopter and no stunt double for Blake. It looks like it was risky and took top flying skills to engineer it. The story has a good deal of complexity as well that should keep you wondering what's next.
Veteran William Prince (sort of the George Macready double) adds interest. So do some assorted actresses, who at times become very hysterical.
But Blake is the main event. As Joe Dancer, he holds little back. He confronts and he lays his cards on the table. He goes right to the point or the jugular.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**SPOILERS** Driving home from a long train trip private detective Joe
Dancer literally gets a case landed right into his lap when 17 year-old
Steve Brunell runs or flies right into his car windshield. Although
Dancer is totally exonerated by the police in Steve's tragic death his
distraught sister Jenny feels that he's in some way consciously, not
accidentally, responsible for it.
Taking on the case of Steve Brunell's death to clear his, and Jenny's, conscience Dancer finds out that Steve was somehow involved, as an eye witness, in the murder of this red headed, a john Doe in the city morgue, young man! The man was later made to look like he was killed, like Steve, in a car accident.
With the very reluctant help of his LAPD friend officer Hurbie Quinlin Dancer uncovers the real reason for Steve's death, or murder. And that has to do with him being the wrong man at the wrong place at the wrong time! Steve who was the pizza delivery boy for Rosa's Pizza accidentally happened to come upon a scene, at this rented house, of popular action/adventure actor Judd Hampton having three way sex with hookers Jill & Jackie. This lead to the red headed man to crash the party, claiming to be the outraged husband of one of the hookers, and have it out with the movie star!
***MAJOR SPOILER*** With Hampton, after knocking the "outraged husband" out cold, fleeing the scene with almost nothing but his shorts on the red headed guy is later murdered, with Steve at the scene of the crime, by this hood hired by movie mogul, the head of Polaris Studios, Asa Lamar. This was done in order to blackmail Hampton to star in Lamar's upcoming 30 million dollar action adventure film!
It takes a while and a number of murders of witnesses including Jill & Jackie, as well as their pimp the sleazy porno movie producer Phil Easton, for Dancer to get to the bottom of what's behind young Steve Brunell death or murder! Steve while delivering a pizza saw too much, the red headed guy murdered by Lamar's hit-man, and had to be terminated to keep him quite!
Being the powerful man that Lamar is he had both the local police and district attorney in his hip pocket. This made it impossible for Dancer to get him arrested for Steve's murder. For extra insurance the cunning Lamar had his #1 or main man Mr. Iberville do all the dirty work for him as well as cleaning things, or dead bodies, up in keeping him from being connected to them. Knowing that he, at least for the moment, can't lay a hand on Lamar Dancer makes the "Big Trade" with him. This "Big Trade" in fact has Lamar, at the expense of Mr. Iberville, end up getting away Scot-free for some half dozen murders!
P.S As for Jenny Brunell, or actress Robin Dearden, her shrill and hysterical acting was so unconvincing that she was obviously written out of the film, after a blotched car and helicopter chase, and sent packing back home to Iowa for her, and the movies, own good.
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