October 21st, 2010

ACROSS 110TH STREET (1972) ** ½

Some brothers gun down a couple of Mafioso and steal their dough, which naturally gets the Mob’s panties in a bunch.  A racist cop (Anthony Quinn) investigates but the politicians force him to partner up with a black policeman (Yaphet Kotto).  The duo has to put their differences aside in order to apprehend the killers. 


While Across 110th Street is far from perfect, it does cover some interesting ground.  Not only does it effectively depict the tumultuous race relations between the two cops, but also between the Mobsters and their black business associates.  It’s this aspect that almost elevates it from the usual blaxploitation films of the era.


The best thing about the movie is the dynamic between Kotto and Quinn.  Both actors give terrific performances and together, they make a memorable pair.  Whenever these guys are verbally sparring with one another; the flick rocks.


The problem is that the story is just too jumbled for it’s own good.  There’s a lot of needless stuff with the Mobster (Anthony Franciosa) looking for the dudes that ripped him off, as well as a pointless subplot involving the robbers themselves.  If the flick’s primary focus was on the mismatched cops, I think Across 110th Street could’ve been a winner.  But even though the pacing drags and the plot meanders, it still has one of those ballsy nobody-really-wins unhappy endings that Hollywood doesn’t really bother with anymore.


Robert Griffin (Jon Hall) is hit over the head and left for dead by his unscrupulous associates who steal his half of a valuable diamond mine.  When he tracks them down and confronts them, they steal all of his proof and send him packing.  Griffin then meets a kindly old doctor (John Carradine) who knows the secret of invisibility and he agrees to be his pet guinea pig.  Once Griffin becomes invisible though, he runs out on the doctor and uses his newfound anonymity to get… The Invisible Man’s Revenge!


I’ll tell ya, Jon Hall must’ve had a better agent than either Claude Rains or Vincent Price because he gets to remain visible for over half of the movie.  (They only got to be seen at the very last frames of the movie.)  Hall’s great at being a smug bastard too, so the filmmakers obviously wanted to give him a lot of face time.  He also has a nice rapport with the Universal stock company (Evelyn Ankers, John Carradine, etc.).


And the special effects are great this time around.  Although you can see some of the wires whenever the Invisible Man is holding something, there is some really terrific stuff here.  Like when Hall splashes water or flour on his face and you can see the outline of his facial features walking around in thin air.  That was pretty cool.  The highlight though comes when he helps his buddy win some money at darts.  This scene doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the flick but it’s still really funny.


If the film does have a fault it’s that Hall is a bastard from the get-go, so you don’t really root for him to get his revenge.  Plus, it takes away some of the suspense because you no longer have to worry about him going insane from the serum as he’s nuts to begin with.  Then there’s the dodgy continuity.  Hall’s character is named is Griffin, but he doesn’t seem to be related to Claude Rains’ character.  He’s also is completely unrelated to Invisible Man that Hall played two years earlier in Invisible Agent.  Other than that, The Invisible Man’s Revenge is a consistently entertaining sequel.


The Invisible Man’s Revenge is on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1944 at the Number 6 spot, which places it right below To Have and Have Not and just above The Chinese Cat.


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