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Okay, last week I made an error when I said this movie starred Fred Williamson.  It actually stars Richard Roundtree.  You can understand my confusion though since they put Fred on the cover.

 



I believe that this is a first for the It Came from the Thrift Store column; putting people on the video box that aren’t even in the movie! 

 

Richard Roundtree plays a black fireman who is hired by a New York firehouse filled with racists, led by Vince Edwards.  Not only does Roundtree have to put up with his racist co-workers, he has to deal with the black people in the neighborhood who think he’s sold out to The Man too (they call him “Whitey”).  Eventually, Roundtree proves himself on the job and when he catches a notorious arsonist, he earns the respect of his firefighting team.

 

My first disappointment in Firehouse came from the fact that there’s no Fred Williamson in sight.  That disappointment grew once I realized that this wasn’t an honest to goodness movie but a feature length television pilot for a short lived series.  (The constant fade outs for commercial breaks are a dead giveaway.)  Also, KISS’s awesome song, “Firehouse” isn’t on the soundtrack.  I thought that tune would be tailor made for this flick.  Oh well.  Three strikes and you’re out, movie.

 

Luckily, the cast is very good.  Roundtree puts his charisma to good use and gives a commanding performance.  No matter how clichéd the movie got, Roundtree at least made it watchable.  And I thought Edwards did a fine job as the head racist and the rest of the supporting cast is extremely well rounded for this sort of thing too.  We also get the always reliable Richard (The King of the Kickboxers) Jaeckel, Michael (Barton Fink) Lerner, Andrew (Return to Salem’s Lot) Duggan, Paul (American Graffiti) Le Mat, and DeWayne (Otis Day from Animal House) Jessie.

 

The firefighting scenes in the film are a combination of obvious stock footage and OK special effects.  There aren’t many of them, but they do help break up some of the monotony.  All the stuff involving Roundtree and the racist firemen is a bit heavy-handed; although Shaft’s performance is strong enough to make it tolerable.  But even he can’t save the turgid soap opera scenes with his wife.  These chunks of the film are bland and boring and bring the flick to a screeching halt.  No wonder this thing got canceled.

 

Expect to see lots more burning buildings next time on It Came from the Thrift Store when we’ll do a Godzilla double feature…

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