29 user 24 critic

Street Smart (1987)

A New York journalist lies when his fake story about a pimp describes a real pimp up for murder.


Jerry Schatzberg


David Freeman
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Reeve ... Jonathan Fisher
Kathy Baker ... Punchy
Mimi Rogers ... Alison Parker
Jay Patterson ... Leonard Pike
Andre Gregory ... Ted Avery
Morgan Freeman ... Fast Black
Anna Maria Horsford ... Harriet
Frederick Rolf Frederick Rolf ... Joel Davis
Erik King ... Reggie
Michael J. Reynolds ... Art Sheffield
Shari Hilton Shari Hilton ... Darlene
Donna Bailey Donna Bailey ... Yvonne
Ed Van Nuys Ed Van Nuys ... Judge
Daniel Nalbach Daniel Nalbach ... Singer
Rick Aviles ... Solo


Magazine reporter Jonathan Fisher, in danger of losing his job, promises to write a factual hard-hitting story of prostitution. But when he tries to get information from the subjects, he is ignored. So he ends up faking a well received story of a pimp, describing his life and crimes. But police think the story is of a real life pimp who is wanted for murder and start pressuring him to reveal the identity of subject in his story, and all he knows. The pimp the police suspect, also thinks the story is about himself, and wants to know what Jonathan knows, and who told him. Written by Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


To get even he must get STREET SMART See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


One of the locations used was the old Seville Theater, in a rundown section of St. Catherine Street, near the old Montreal Forum. By that time, the theater had been closed for quite a while, and they redressed it as an adult movie theater on New York City's 42nd Street, leaving many to believe that the Seville Theater was being turned in a porno palace. After filming was done, everything was taken down, and the theater still remains closed to this day (December 2006), but is basically a shell, as the owners have let it fall into disrepair. However, the city has deemed the front of the building "historically important architecture", and will not allow the building to be torn down, unless they incorporate the front of the building into a new project. See more »


Right when Punch and her pimp enter the party, the editor announces them at the door..They cut to a woman on the stairs and Punchies leopard skin leotard clad legs are stretched out behind her. They have a scene on the stairs a few minutes later. See more »


Ted Avery: [laughing and reading Jonathan's article about the pimp] It's wonderful! Listen. Listen to this! "Although he doesn't vote and never has Tyrone has no modesty about his own political potential. If I was the president, he says, I could fix the world in 30 seconds. I sent everybody pussy and they don't have no time for trouble." It's terrific. It's first rate. It's a real breakthrough! Let it change pussy for something else.
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Featured in A Century of Black Cinema (2003) See more »


Only in Your Arms
Written by Paul Chiten & Michael Bishop
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User Reviews

Life's a city full of strange streets --
29 August 2002 | by rmax304823See all my reviews

A superior movie, except that the ending is completely contrived and unbelievable. Morgan Freeman generally gets the palm for his performance in "Street Smart" and deserves it for turning in a masterful performance. Called in to straighten out some difficulty between one of his girls and her trick, he calms everyone down, the soul of reason, until the trick is distracted, then Freeman kicks him in the family jewels and does a number of his face too. It's a shocking burst of violence. And his rattlesnake-like ability to strike quickly isn't limited to important economic confrontations either. During a basketball game, one of his shots is blocked. He shoves his opponent to the pavement, suggests that he'd look particularly good dead, then notices that everyone is standing around agape, smiles reassuringly, pats the guy on the shoulder and hands him a good deal of money to buy and bring back -- "Some chicken, ribs, stuff like that." He calls out, "Keep the change," to the grateful survivor of this encounter. All of Freeman's violence comes as a surprise, particularly when Chris Reeves tries to cool him down and Freeman whips around and holds a broken bottle before Reeves' face, with the steady, sure hand of a surgeon. Almost invariably, these episodes are followed by big friendly grins, pats on the back, assurances that things are back to normal, generous offers of food, drink, or money. The change takes place in less than a second.

Freeman is smarter than anyone else in the movie too. The main figure in a celebrated journalistic effort, he and his girl are invited to the publisher's party where everyone showers them with attention while they chat about "the Hamptons." Afterward, Punchy exults over the attention but Freeman sees through it all. He knows condescension when he sees it, and he is filled with resentment. Trying to put something over on Freeman is like trying to slip sunrise past a rooster.

But Kathy Baker as the used Punchy deserves credit as well, although her part isn't nearly as showy and dramatic as Freeman's. She's just beyond the bloom of youth, rather used looking and heavily made up, and her figure, while ripely pleasant wouldn't draw stares in a supermarket. She's very appealing indeed in her vulnerability and aloneness.

Chris Reeve is usually ignored in reviews. I don't know why. He's rarely anything but bland, but this is by far his best performance, and he invests his character with ambition, confusion, fear, and compassion -- not an easy role. The scene in the hotel bedroom with Kathy Baker, in which she seduces him knowing that behind that facade of journalistic objectivity lies a man who would just love to get it on with her, whether or not he realizes it. She demonstrates how she made it with her first john and makes Reeve play the partner. The silly made-up dialog fades and is replaced by "Natural Woman" on the sound track. The two have a relaxed, enjoyable-looking, mutually appreciative little love scene.

It's a pretty good movie and involves us emotionally in several different ways. Alas, as I say, the end is almost an embarrassment. The bumbling Reeve character turns into a genius, and other characters into the fools they never were. Don't let that stop you from watching this.

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USA | Canada



Release Date:

20 March 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Street Smart See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada See more »


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$325,835, 22 March 1987

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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