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 decides to go 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 to restart his ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This modest movie captured the blown out angst of the 70's better than any other film and is a worthy addition to the great tradition of noir gangster dramas that began with High Sierra (starring Bogart). It is also a high point in Dustin Hoffman's career, perhaps his greatest performance. Unlike pictures such as "Rambo," it does not so much romanticize the violence as make the viewer pity the protagonist for his tragic choice. I wonder if any parolees who saw this movie decided to go straight rather than risk the dangers of returning to a life of crime. I also wonder if any parole officers who saw it were persuaded to be more humane in their treatment of ex-cons. Haven't seen one this good in a long long time!
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