Monday, February 25, 2013

Night of the Juggler 1980

    A neat, tight little film that unfortunately is pretty much forgotten today, director Robert Butler's 1980  Night of the Juggler is an excellent NYC thriller. Starring a shaggy haired, bearded James Brolin, who plays Sean Boyd, an ex-cop/truck driver who chases the kidnapper of his daughter from one end of Manhattan to the other during the course of the story.  The kidnapper played with creepy intensity by Cliff Gorman  (money is his main focus, but you get the idea of something more evil lurking under the surface) has kidnapped Brolin's daughter Kathy (Abby Bluestone) in error, mistaking her for a rich real estate mogul's daughter.

   With the kidnapping occurring 15 minutes into movie and followed by 30 minute chase that has the antagonists moving from from cars to foot, on to the subway, back to cars and ending 100 min. later in the steam tunnels under Central Park, this is movie that pretty much never lets you catch your breath. Along the way we find out that Brolin was a Serpico -like cop who testified on police who were on the take and was subsequently fired.  This leads to Sgt. Otis Barnes, a psycho cop who's out to get him played by a wild-eyed Dan Hedaya (best known as Carla's's ex-husband on T.V.'s Cheers) chasing him. Also featuring Richard S. Castellano (The Godfather) as a sympathetic cop, Julie Carmen and Mandy Patnikin as a cab driver.

    A virtual breathless tour of a dirty, gritty NYC from the bombed out ruins of the Bronx (where Brolin runs afoul of a Warriors type street gang) to a pre-Disney Time Square where he tears apart an adult peep show - complete with a cameo by porn actress Sharon Mitchell.  James Brolin is really good here (he seems to do much of his own stunts) as the determined father who spends almost the entire movie running or beating people up. Director Robert Butler did this after coming off a bunch of T.V. (The Waltons) and Disney (The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes & The Barefoot Executive) among others.  A movie that REALLY needs a nice DVD or blu-ray release as all we've had is crappy budget VHS releases. Hopefully someday.

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