The 1960's was a tough time for the Police of our country. Along with the Armed Forces, the relentless criticism hit from all sides. The Liberal News Media hit about the hardest and was joined by Hollywood.
This was also the Era of the "BLACKSPLOITATION" Film. That is, movies with mostly Black Actors, in Urban Action Films involving Organized Crime, Narcotics Trafficking, Prostitution, 'Super Flies' and one Bad Ass Black Private Detective to do the job that the local Police Department can't or won't do, and clean up the place.
Eventually, we saw some more intelligent, widely appealing films with Black Themes. These had a great appeal to all of the National and World-Wide Movie Going Audience. We had SOUNDER(1972) and CLAUDINE(1974), which are two good examples.
As with all trends, this Black Urban Action movie fell by the wayside, only to be replaced by another short-ride vehicle. But what would it be? Concurrently with the rise of the Black Film, we saw a trend toward presenting Movies featuring Cops who would do their job, no matter what. Fanatically the pursued our enemies, the Burglar, the Mugger, the Rapist, the Serial Killer, all were arrested and "given the Third Degree", that is interrogated over and over, and again if necessary.
It all began with Clint Eastwood as Inspector Harry Callahan in DIRTY HARRY(1971) and based on the Robbin Moore's true life story THE FRENCH CONNECTION(1971)' with Gerne Hackman, Roy Scheider,Fernando Rey, etc. . The Movies gave the public a Fanatical Hero Cop to ease some of their worries, if even for the two hours of the film's running. A Fictional Hero is, after all, better than none.
The period saw some the better, more brutal modern-day shoot-'em-ups, with many different actors. We had: Charles Bronson in THE STONE KILLER(1973), Roy Scheider in THE SEVEN-UPS(also '73), Michael Morriarity in REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER(1975). This period also saw two (2) John Wayne Tough Guy Cop vehicles in McQ(1974) BRANNIOGAN(1975);the latter his being a Chicago Police Detective and in the former it's the Seattle P.D. that he's portraying.
It seemed that every studio wanted their own "Dirty Harry" so, we continued on this course and 1974, Billie Dee Williams signed for his Tough Cop Film. And so we saw the release of THE TAKE in May of that year.
In that proverbial old nutshell, Veteran San Francisco Detective Reed(Billy Dee )has accepted a position with a smaller New Mexico P.D. The Boss, Chief Berrigan(Eddie Albert)wants and needs someone with Sneed's experience in dealing with Organized Crime. And "deal" he does, as he almost immediately goes on the pad of Local Gang Boss, Manso (Vic Morrow).
We also find out that the very bright and well educated("So why are you just a Cop, Snead?"). He has also re-located because of a Lady,and such a Lady! Dr. Nancy______(Tracy Reed) and he had been an item, but she took off, 'cause of his job, and he is still carrying a torch for her! (And she is a Doctor, yet!) Early on, we see how Detective Sneed is established as a tough-guy cop, albeit in a more subtle manner. But it is not for the violence portrayed or the disgusting criminal acts that makes this film notable; for it is really tame in this area.
This is the one and only film that is known to this writer, that really looks at corruption in a calm and truly analytical manner. The main character Sneed does accept payoffs. He is very open to many of his being on the "take"! He appears to perform his job as well as any, even better, maybe. But he has this payment coming monthly from bad guy Manso and his crew. How can this be? Most often we have our characters presented in Black & White. They are either good or bad. We see no in betweeners, no varying shades of gray.
THE TAKE gets this point right out in the open, begging the question, can a guy be his own "Privateer" and still uphold the law as he has sworn to so.
We were given this unexpected morsel of 'Food for Thought'. So what about it, whataya t'ink?
NOTE: We almost forgot to give our "HATS OFF" salute to some fine performances in supporting roles. We have A.Martinez as young Detective and Sneed admirer, Tallbear, Albert Salmi(Lt.Dolek),Sorrell Booke as Investment Broker Oscar,James Luisi-Big Time Hood Benedetto and Frankie Avalon as Small Time Gangster/Stool Pigeon-Danny James.