7 November 2013 | Hey_Sweden
An excellent crime drama.
While not truly "blaxploitation", the integrated cast is of major interest in this story (based on a novel by Wally Ferris) strongly and memorably depicting racial differences. Two detectives, a veteran Italian-American named Mattelli (Anthony Quinn) and an up and coming black, Lt. Pope (Yaphet Kotto), are forced to work together while investigating the case of three black men (two of them disguised as cops) who ripped off money from a Mafia controlled bank. Now it's up to Mattelli and Pope to find the three men before the Mafia is able to get their revenge.
There's some wonderful acting in this tough and gritty film, given straightforward treatment by director Barry Shear and featuring plenty of authentic Harlem locations. It's got quite a lot of hard hitting violence, and may be uncomfortable to watch at times for some viewers. The music by J.J. Johnson is superb and there are also great songs by Bobby Womack on the soundtrack. There's one ingenious cut a little past the 77 minute mark. The pacing is quite effective and the storytelling always interesting and compelling.
Quinn is solid as the old school, bigoted veteran and Kotto is his match as the more disciplined, efficient younger man. Anthony Franciosa is fun in a key supporting role as a mob henchman, and the cast is peppered with many familiar faces. Delivering standout performances are the raspy voiced Richard Ward as gangster Doc Johnson and Paul Benjamin as determined career criminal Jim Harris. Viewers will enjoy themselves spotting actors and actresses such as George DiCenzo, Antonio Fargas, Paul Harris, Gloria Hendry, Gilbert Lewis, Charles McGregor, Robert Sacchi, Marlene Warfield, Mel Winkler, and Burt Young.
Overall this is potent entertainment and deserves its place among the great NYC-based films of the 1970s.
Quinn and Shear were the executive producers.
Eight out of 10.