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The Big Black Pill (1981)

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 »


Reza Badiyi


Robert Blake (creator), Michael Butler




Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Blake ... Joe Dancer
JoBeth Williams ... Tiffany Farrenpour
Neva Patterson ... Eliza Farinpour
James Gammon ... Captain Jake Jacqualone
Veronica Cartwright ... Sister Theresa
Carol Wayne ... Allegra Farinpour
Edward Winter ... Jerrold Farinpour
Phillip R. Allen Phillip R. Allen ... Commissioner Wilkie
Sondra Blake ... Charlie
Eileen Heckart ... Sister Clara
Wilford Brimley ... Wally Haskell
Kevyn Major Howard ... David Farinpour
Kenneth Tigar ... Trotter
Bubba Smith ... Big Foot
Robert Phillips ... Little Al


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"

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

29 January 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Joe Dancer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Filmways Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


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

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User Reviews

Terrible but fun to watch
15 July 2014 | by tomgnelSee all my reviews

Robert Blake obviously created this story with "China Town" as its inspiration. His character, Joe Dancer, is entangled with a rich and powerful family with deep roots in LA. He is enticed and misled by a beautiful heiress. Other members of the family try to hire him away. There are some embarrassing secrets that are at the bottom of the plot as well as some political intrigue. Does this sound familiar?

The plot is helped along with some incredible "jump cuts" and implausible action scenes. Blake jumps off a water tower onto a moving train while carrying the body of a full grown adult! When he lands, no attempt is made to disguise the fact that the "body" is actually a poorly constructed dummy. Later, Blake handily disposes of a thug played by the towering Bubba Smith in a train yard fight. How the diminutive Joe Dancer achieves this feat is neatly obscured in darkness.

Unlike Jake Giddes, Jack Nicholson's flawed character in "China Town," Joe Dancer comes across as almost superhuman. I personally believe that this film reveals its star and creator, Robert Blake, to be an egomaniac of unusual proportions, even for Hollywood.

This is one of those films that is so bad, it is fun to watch. It is a testament to how a famous actor with a bad idea and a lot of influence can spin a flimsy plot into a Hollywood production.

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