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SLAMS, THE (director: Jonathan Kaplan; screenwriter: Richard DeLong Adams; cinematographer: Andrew Davis; editor: Morton Tubor; music: Luther Henderson; cast: Jim Brown (Curtis Hook), Judy Pace (Iris Daniels), Roland Bob Harris (Captain Stambell ), Paul Harris (Jackson Barney), Frank DeKova (Capiello), Ted Cassidy (Glover), Frenchia Guizon (Macey), John Dennis (Sergeant Flood), Jac Emel (Zack), Quinn K. Redeker (Warden), Betty Cole (Mother), Robert Phillips (Cohalt), Dick Miller (Taxi Driver); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Gene Corman; MGM; 1973)

“Aims to prove that blacks like whites can also play amoral criminal hero roles with a straight face and a smirk.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The prison drama is produced by Roger Corman’s younger brother Gene. Jonathan Kaplan (“The Accused”/”Heart Like A Wheel”/”Project X”)directs this low-budget actioner, keeping it misanthropic, violent and mindless. It aims to prove that blacks like whites can also play amoral criminal hero roles with a straight face and a smirk.WriterRichard DeLong Adams keeps the script moving along with its bloody action scenes replacing the need for intelligent dialogue. The center piece is the inspired climax escape scene.

Curtis Hook (Jim Brown, ex-NFL star) is a cool bad dude, who gets sent to a slammer in LA after stashing away $1.5 million in Mafia heroin loot during a robbery. Hook is arrested after taking part with a pair of wise guys in the robbery of a Mafia oil tanker–where inside the mobsters trade smack for cash. Hook’s crew gasses the mobsters to death, but when Hook only takes the money and not the heroin he has to gun down his two Italian partners to escape from them, who disagree with that noble gesture to keep drugs out of the ghetto. Though badly wounded, Hook finds a way to drive the van to an amusement park and to hide the money in the ocean before arrested.

Hook must cope as a prisoner in this poorly run violent jail by dealing with queers (the pic reflects a homophobic attitude), a stereotypical Mafia boss Capiello (Frank DeKova) running the jail, a slimy corrupt prison captain Stambell (Roland Bob Harris), the corrupt prison guards, and by trying to remain neutral during a racial war between blacks and whites. The two prison enforcers respectfully for the blacks and whites–Macey (Frenchia Guizon) and Glover (Ted Cassidy)–also must be handled by Hook. Hook has value to the Mafia boss and the police captain, who want to partner with the independent-minded hood for the hidden drug cache, offering in exchange to help him escape. Meanwhile Hook plans his escape to the Caribbean with loyal girl friend Iris (Judy Pace) and with the help of criminal friend Barney (Paul Harris).

Why the hardened criminal deserves to escape with the drug money and to be considered a heroic figure never is answered, unless you believe since Hook resisted taking the dope in the heist that his criminal behavior deserves a full pardon.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”