The Swap (1979) Poster


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"It's best to leave the dead buried".
classicsoncall23 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
It might have been better to leave the movie buried. The film opens in the year 1969, with totally cheap 1960's production values, so imagine my surprise when I look it up here on the IMDb and suddenly find it listed as a 1979 flick, AFTER Robert De Niro's starring roles in "Taxi Driver" and "The Deer Hunter". A little research helps, and it turns out this film started out as "Sam's Song", left unfinished and unreleased, presumably because it was pretty atrocious, with the intervening ten years not helping it much. If one didn't know better, you'd have to ask yourself how De Niro ever became a major star, much less get picked for another acting role after being seen in this. But of course he probably wasn't seen in this back in the late Sixties - gee, it's starting to sound like one of those time travel stories that wind up making my head hurt.

To give you an idea how bad this is, the female lead is portrayed by two different actresses (Jennifer Warren and Sybil Danning), and I constantly kept wondering why the film maker might have done that (now I know). I'd swear that Sam's girlfriend, later Andrew's wife Carol was also played by two different actresses, but the credits don't go there. To save you the trouble of going there yourself, De Niro's character is a maker of porn flicks, and an aspiring politician running for governor can't afford to have one of his productions see the light of day. I don't know about you, but I had the gov picked as the guy behind Sam's murder as soon as his personal assistant appeared on screen. The horny women were just a distraction to keep you guessing. Come to think of it, so was the title, because any swap that conceivably occurs in the picture turns out to be rather innocuous.

Even though De Niro's name heads the cast credits, the actual lead role for this one is handled by Anthony Charnota as Sam's brother Vito on the trail of his killer. By the time it's over, Vito leaves a trail of dead bodies behind him, even though he was being closely tailed by a detective named Benson; the cop never figured in the story's resolution. I had to laugh when the picture borrowed one of those gimmicks from 1940's Westens with an unknown person shooting the older Erica through a window and Vito giving chase. Who shot Vito? I don't know. Neither will you.
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An early example of stolen footage to prop up a poor thriller.
DigitalRevenantX77 October 2014
In 1969 a young Robert De Niro starred in a drama called Sam's Song. It didn't make much in the way of profit but it got him noticed. Ten years later, a filmmaker wanted to get De Niro onto his project but didn't have the resources to do it. So he took to stealing much of Sam's Song & incorporating it into his own film. The result was The Swap.

Vito Nicoletti is released from prison after serving a twelve year sentence. He is on a mission to find out who killed his younger brother Sam ten years before. Meeting up with his late brother's friends, Vito finds that Sam was a porn filmmaker & had an underage girlfriend before he was killed. After a few close calls on his life, Vito sits down to watch the films that Sam had made in an effort to understand the murder. But upon watching the films, Vito realises that he had already met the killer.

The Swap was a complete disaster in terms of story-telling. When De Niro found out about the film's existence, he nearly launched a lawsuit. But this cheap thriller is so poor that it cancels itself out, leaving it to be relatively obscure today. The main problem is that De Niro's character is turned from a young romantic lead into a pornographer & a paedophile thanks to whoever wrote the film's script. This is part of why the film fails to entertain. Anthony Charnota makes a poor hero but at least he takes himself & his work seriously despite his gruff demeanor. Lisa Blount, about three years away from making a slightly better impression in the zombie film DEAD & BURIED makes a strangely cold love interest / sidekick to Charnota's ex-con.
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Poorly made and badly acted mystery/revenge movie...
dwpollar4 May 2010
1st watched 4/29/2010 – 2 out of 10 (Dir-John C. Broderick & John Shade): Poorly made and badly acted mystery/revenge movie billed as an early starring role for Robert De Niro but could have done much better with more of him. The De Niro character gets killed at the beginning of the movie and the rest of the movie involves his brother, Vinnie, getting out of jail 10 years later and trying to find out who killed him. The real star of the film is the actor who plays Vinnie but De Niro got the top billing even though he is in a lot fewer scenes. The acting was very bad for the most part in this movie coming from the main character. It was somewhat interesting trying to figure out where the story was going but it was pretty easy to piece things together at about the midway point of the film. The soundtrack was kind of strange in that it changed abruptly at different parts of the movie when it really made no sense. Before the movie was over it became laughable watching the cardboard actors say their silly lines and I was glad it only lasted 86 minutes(although it could have been shorter to take away my suffering). De Niro was fine in the movie but he wasn't the star and everyone has to start somewhere but I'm sure he'd even look at this film as a lowpoint in his career. Avoid this one – even with his name attached, the movie's not worth it.
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About what you'd expect from a cheapo film that exploits a few small clips from an earlier bad film.
MartinHafer11 August 2014
One of Robert De Niro's earliest films was a bad and forgettable film called "Sam's Song". A decade after its release, some unscrupulous boobs decided to integrate a few tiny clips of him from this film into a new film in order to capitalize on his recent successes such as "The Godfather" films as well as "Taxi Driver". And, to further exploit his fame, they gave him top billing even though he's barely in "The Swap" at all! Apart from the intro and a few tiny clips used here and there, he isn't even in the film!

As for the plot, it is also a rip-off. Clearly it's a reworking of the excellent Michael Caine film, "Get Carter". In both, a guy is in prison when his younger brother is killed--and he's determined to find and punish those responsible. Caine's film is a classic--this other version features wooden acting, terrible editing of the old and new film footage and almost zero energy. Overall, it's an awful little film that is better forgotten.
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Only interesting as a curio
arfdawg-115 May 2014
Vinnie gets out of jail after serving 10 years and tries to find out who killed his younger brother - played by a young Robert de Niro.

Some plot.

DeNiro is VERY young in this movie that looks like it was financed with mob money.In fact, his scenes are taken from a 1969 movie called Sam's Song!!!And when I say scenes, DeNiro is literally in the movie 90 seconds despite getting top billing!!!!

The crazy director went on to teach at City University in NY. Sybil Danning has blue hair. Why? We never find out. A couple scenes later it's brown.

The movie is pretty bad.
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Released from prison Vito Nicoletti tries to find his brothers murderer.
matazel-121 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is a re-cut from Sam's Song (1969) so this is like a redone re-release. I guess that's why some of the actors were dropped from the listing for this movie (e.g. Sybil Danning). No big deal as this was not a big movie. Bad acting, bad lighting, bad sound, bad movie.

Cut from a bad movie which was cut from some bad footage, I think from two different movies or something. Other than finding his brothers murderer I could find no plot, I'm still not sure if there's a good guy.

See the listing for "Sam's Song" for a better description of this movie.
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Have footage, will profit
Chase_Witherspoon18 May 2013
Incorporates scenes from the 1969 film "Sam's Song" of Robert DeNiro (as Sam) playing an aspiring director who meets a couple (Warren and Mickey) and an apparently single woman (Crawford) with whom he develops mutual bonds over one party-filled weekend at the beach. But when he's murdered, his fiercely protective brother (Charnotta) vows to avenge his death and ten years' later upon his release from gaol, he pieces together Sam's final days to seek retribution.

Neither DeNiro nor Warren - whose stars had risen in the intervening years between the 1969 footage and this 1979 re-edit - appear in the subsequently shot scenes, though naturally much is made of their names in the credits for marquee value. Both Mickey and Crawford reprise their roles, but Charnotta is essentially the central character here, his interrogations abetted by Lisa Blount as his frustrated chauffeur who once 'worked' for his brother. James Brown has a couple of scenes as a detective warning Charnotta not to dig too deeply into his brother's murder, and the sultry Sybil Danning playing the modern-day Warren role is entirely wasted sitting behind a desk.

Tedious attempt at a film noir, bereft of action and suspense, just a dreary series of one-on-one conversations interspersed with flashbacks of the melodramatic romantic quartet, making the most out of DeNiro's scant, unrelated footage. Though there's an occasional promise of something entertaining, it never eventuates. Even the film's climax is a non-event, hampered by a shoestring budget that teases, but fails to deliver.
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De Niro fans beware of recycling
SnoopyStyle26 November 2015
In 1969, Sam Nicoletti (Robert de Niro) is a film editor. He gets killed by a mysterious stranger. Ten years later, Sam's brother Vito gets out of prison. He starts investigating Sam's death as De Niro appears in flashbacks.

In 1969, an unknown Robert De Niro starred in a little movie called Sam's Song. It is little seen. Director Jordan Leondopoulos uses footage from that movie to incorporate into his new movie. He obviously couldn't get De Niro or anybody from the first movie. This is a jumble mess. I would love to watch a young De Niro in a nothing movie like Sam's Song. This is watching snippets of disjointed sections of that movie. I couldn't follow Sam's story and Vito's story is horribly stiff. Sam's Song looks like a bad indie and the new footage looks infinitely worst. Other than seeing a younger De Niro, this is not worth the effort.
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Clumsy film-noir tripe, with only the DeNiro footage a highlight
dumdummcelravy7 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This low-budget "thriller" is actually just a bookend for footage from an unreleased film DeNiro starred in 1969 called SAM'S SONG, a comedy- drama. I don't know who thought this would be a good idea, but the end result is a haphazard mess. I'm surprised DeNiro didn't sue Cannon Films for this.

The new footage features Anthony Charnota as Vito Nicoletti, Sam's "brother", who is released from prison and attempts to find the killers responsible for Sam's "death" (don't ask). He meets up with the characters from the 1969 footage hoping to get possible answers from them, but more plot twists occur than actual entertainment. The 1969 scenes with DeNiro are worth it alone.
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oldie but not a goody
jim boscariol8 January 2012
Great material for some future SNL skit. This one was a real stinker even back in the day as I recall. There's not much good that one can say about this film however it does give a reasonably realistic feel for the times back then.... but "groovy" it is not. I think this movie could be redone as a comedy however several attempts may have already been tried (aka Starsky & Hutch, The Legend Of Ron Burgundy,and, well you get the picture). I'm sure Mr DiNiro still winces when this one is brought up in conversation....but hey, it was "the crazy sixties" and decent indie vehicles were just in their infancy back then. The plot is overly simplistic and the film quality is grainy and basically matches the content for quality, or lack thereof. I wouldn't consider this film as "awful" but it won't be on my next Saturday Night At The Movies list for sure. (terrible waste of good popcorn!)
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