After many juvenile detentions and six years in prison, the small time thief and burglar Max Dembo is released on parole. Max has an initial friction with his nasty parole officer Earl Frank, but the officer agrees to let him live in a hotel room if he gets a job within a week. Max goes to an employment agency and the attendant Jenny Mercer helps him to get a job in a can industry. Max is decided to begin a new life straight and visits his old friend Willy Darin and his family. When Willy brings Max home, he injects heroin and leaves his spoon under Max's bed. Max dates Jenny and on the next day after hours, he finds Frank waiting for him snooping around his room. Frank finds the spoon and sends Max to prison for tests to prove whether he had a fix or not. Despite the negative result, Frank leaves Max for a week imprisoned. When Max is released again, Frank gives a ride and presses him to tell who had a fix in his room. Max hits Frank, steals his car and seeks out his former friends ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Uncredited, Michael Mann worked on adapting the film's source novel "No Beast So Fierce" by Edward Bunker for the movie's script. The book later acted as a point of reference for Mann for the Neil McCauley character (Robert De Niro), when Mann made Heat (1995). See more »
There's a mark on the inside of Max's motel room door in one scene, then the next scene there is no mark (this is because, according to the commentary, they redid the motel room in a studio for night shots). See more »
[Max, Jerry and Carol are enjoying a backyard barbecue. Carol leaves to grab some drinks]
Get me outta here. They're killing me. I can't make this scene anymore, get me outta here... You got something, I know you got something...
Yeah, I got something.
Well, let's do it.
Don't you wanna know what it is?
I don't give a damn what it is, let's just do it... What is it?
Bunch of old guys play poker over in a motel out in the valley. They got about twenty thousand dollars on the table. We just tip ...
[...] See more »
Whatever the weaknesses of STRAIGHT TIME, the strengths render them meaningless. This is at the center a small story about a small man of no consequence in the world. Dustin Hoffman's character is never going to do Great Things with his life. He's probably never going to hold a meaningful job thanks to his criminal record. Whether it's due to the inequities of the system or his own character's weaknesses, it doesn't matter. He'll never have a family or make a contribution to society. But we still care about him. Hoffman's amazing performance makes us care and gives him meaning that few actors could imbue.
The storyline is slow and downbeat. Nothing good is going to come to the inhabitants of this movie. However, that is the unrepentant message of STRAIGHT TIME and it is delivered with amazing power and stark desperation. I can see why this sad premise was a commercial flop but there is not a single false note in the entire heartbreaking two hours. The stellar supporting cast features early roles for Gary Busey, Kathy Bates and M. Emmett Walsh. One of the great noirs of the seventies and a must see for anyone who is a fan of Hoffman or film noir in general.
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