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COPS AND ROBBERS (director: Aram Avakian; screenwriter: Donald E. Westlake/based on the novel by Donald E. Westlake; cinematographer: David L. Quaid; editor: Barry Malkin; music: Michael LeGrand; cast: Cliff Gorman (Tom), Joseph Bologna (Joe), John P. Ryan (Patsy O’Neill), Ellen Holly (Ms. Wells), Nino Ruggeri (Mr. Joe), Charlene Dallas (Secretary), Gayle Gorman (Mary), Lucy Martin (Grace), Joseph Sullivan (Jack), Shepperd Strudwick (Mr. Eastpoole), Dick Ward (Patrolman Paul Jones), Dolph Sweet (George), James Ferguson (Liquor Store Clerk), Frances Foster (Bleeding Lady); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Eliott Kastner; MGM; 1973)

“Seems confused about what to do about regular guy cops who get bitten by the greed bug and become dirty.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A pleasant but only a semi-plausible caper comedy unevenly directed by Aram Avakian (“End of the Road”/”11 Harrowhouse”), that has a happy ending but it seems confused about what to do about regular guy cops who get bitten by the greed bug and become dirty. It’sbased on the novel by Donald E. Westlake, who also writes the screenplay.

Hardworking, risk taking, underpaid buddy NYC cops Tom and Joe (Cliff Gorman and Joseph Bologna) are family men suffering from burn out, who live in the dullish Long Island suburbs and work in the same Manhattan precinct. Tom is a detective on the robbery squad, while Joe is a beat patrolman. On the drive to work, Joe tells Tom that on a spur of the moment decision he robbed last night a liquor store while in uniform and easily pulled off the heist. Tom brainstorms and suggests they cook up a scheme to each make a million bucks and retire to the location of their choice.Tom pays a visit to the arrogant Mafia bossPatsy O’Neill (John P. Ryan), a fence, who has a bowling alley in his apartment. Tom, hiding his identity, arranges a deal whereby the cops steal $10 million dollars of unregistered securities that say pay to the bearer and the Mafia boss will give them $2 million for the bonds. On the day of a ticker-tape parade down Broadway to honor the astronauts, the cops use the parade as a diversion to rob a Wall Street firm. Despite things not going right during the robbery, the cops are still able to rip-off the Mafia boss by outsmarting him during an exchange of the securities for the money in Central Park on a park declared bicycle day only and cleverly escape in a squad car through the park though chased by the mafia goons on bikes.

It’s superficial stuff, the cops are not particularly sympathetic characters, the anti-establishment scenario is tied to the times and has no power on its own, and the morality logic is a bit twisted. But it’s mildly entertaining, and since it makes no claim to offer a message it’s bearable as a minor conventional caper flick that works as long as you don’t ask questions how it works.

REVIEWED ON 10/23/2012 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”