Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Across 110th Street!

"Across 110th Street"--gritty, violent, cynical--is among the best of the black movie genre of the 1970s. In fact, with its unrelenting nature, documentary-style camera work and explosive performances, "110th Street" deserves a place among other set-in-NYC classics of the day, including "Taxi Driver," "Mean Streets," "Report to the Commissioner" and others.

Released in 1972, the movie stars Yaphet Kotto and Anthony Quinn as two detectives at odds as they attempt to solve the fatal robbery of a Mafia count room in Harlem. But the powerful supporting cast of black character actors such as Paul Benjamin, Ed Bernard, Norma Donaldson and the gravelly-voiced Richard Ward--especially Ward---carry the film. Tony Franciosa also does fine work as the dimwitted, but violent mob hood who is in pursuit of the robbers.

The movie is brilliantly acted--the speech Paul Benjamin's character delivers in his rundown basement apartment is Oscar-worthy, if you ask me---bleak and pointed. And Bobby Womack kills on the theme song.

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