(director: Paul Bogart; screenwriters: Robert Hoban/Frances Kierman/story by Ed Harvey; cinematographer: Frank Stanley; editor: Michael McLean; music: Chico Hamilton; cast: Dean Martin (Joe Ricco), Eugene Roche (Police Capt. George Cronyn), Denise Nichols (Irene Mapes), Philip Michael Thomas(Purvis Mapes), Thalmus Rasulala (Frankie Steele), Cindy Williams (Jamison), Geraldine Brooks (Katherine Fremont), Robert Sampson (Justin), Joseph Hacker (Markham), H.B. Barnum (Luther), Ella Raino Edwards (Sally), Michael Gregory (Detective Tanner), George Tyne (Detective Bartlett), Frank Puglia (Uncle Enzo); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Douglas Netter; Warner Home Video; 1975)
“I couldn’t defend this crime film even if I would happen to be the best liberal lawyer in San Francisco.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Dean Martin’s final lead role is as a successful liberal San Francisco defense attorney, in this obscure, tired melodrama about hot-button racial crimes. Dean is a lonely widow, seeing a conventional woman (Geraldine Brooks) his own age. His wife died at childbirth. For laughs there’s Dean’s pet shaggy dog named Hank, who retrieves drinks for him. Veteran television director Paul Bogart (“The Three Sisters”/”Marlowe”) directs as if it were a made for cable program. The story is by Ed Harvey. The writers are Robert Hoban and Frances Kierman, who write a muddled script. After Ricco (Dean Martin) gets a black militant, Frankie Steele (Thalmus Rasulala), acquitted of stabbing a white woman on the technicality of the police planting evidence, the suspect becomes linked to the killing of two white police officers. A young boy (H.B. Barnum) comes forth to Ricco identifying Steele as the cop killer. Ricco informs the lead homicide investigator on the case, Captain George Cronyn (Eugene Roche). But Steele flees from a police raid on his headquarters. Then an assassin attempts to kill Ricco at an art museum. The lawyer can’t believe Steele would want to kill him after he successfully defended him, and launches his own investigation. A shootout and chase follows, and finally in the last five minutes the humdrum crime drama leads to an unsatisfactory surprise ending that comes out of the blue. The result is a Dino flick where there are only a few one-liners, no booze and no chasing after the hottie gals. Dino without his usual props is a bummer. The 58-year-old Dean shows no energy or interest in his character. I couldn’t defend this crime film even if I would happen to be the best liberal lawyer in San Francisco.
REVIEWED ON 9/1/2016 GRADE: C