For all you boppers out there in the big city, all you street people with an ear for the action, we wanna relay a message: Night of the Juggler , despite a not-so-good title, is a rare piece of major studio exploitation sleaze disguised as action thriller, that will grab you by the proverbial biscuits and won’t let go. It stars James Brolin (father of Josh, looking like Christian Bale) as an ex-cop turned truck driver who scours all the NYC boroughs in search of his kidnapped daughter, leaving behind a trail of havoc everywhere he goes. Hollywood has for a long time now indulged in the bad habit of casting only über pretty people in their movies. Here, we are taken back to a time when character actors stood out for their unique and rough features. Cliff Gorman owns the role of the racist, perverted motormouth psycho. The wild eyed Dan Hedaya as a cop with a huge chip on his shoulder is quite memorable too, but it’s Richard S. Castellano as the lieutenant/real-ass authentic New Yorker, who steals the show.
Right up with the actors is the Rotten Apple itself, in all its dirty, busy, former glory. The city really deserves top billing as well. (In one scene, Brolin’s ex-wife angrily accuses him of loving New York too much.) Every shot of a hot dog stand, crowded subway, and peep show booth (look for porn legend Sharon Mitchell in a small role) is a shot to relish.
Be forewarned, Night of the Juggler is by all means politically incorrect. Black pimps, Latino gang members, deranged Caucasian nutjobs, it’s all here, warts and all. Interestingly (or perhaps, not so interestingly), the movie’s basic plot is a Hollywood formula that really hasn’t changed that much 35 years later. But that really doesn’t matter here. Like a NY slice, you know what you’re getting ahead of time, and you fuckin’ like it.
Directed by Robert Butler . Rated R.
(Props to FroggyFlix for the upload)