(director: Gordon Parks; screenwriter: Lorenzo Semple Jr./from the biography by L. H. Whitemore; cinematographer: Dick Kratina; editor: Harry Howard; music: Jerry Fielding; cast: Ron Leibman (David Greenberg/Batman), David Selby (Robert Hantz/Robin), Pat Hingle (Novick), Sheila Frazier (Sara), Dan Frazer (Krasna), Joseph Sirola (Lieutenant O’Shaughnessy), Arny Freeman (Barry Kellner), Bernard Kates (DA Heller), Alex Colon (Carlos), Charles Turner (Joe Hayes), Al Fann (Frank Hayes), Pat Corley (Captain Bush), Barton Heyman (Lt. Stratton); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: R; producer: William Belasco; MGM; 1974)

“Wacky fact based crime story.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Based upon the true story of two heroic NYC cops, David Greenberg (Ron Leibman) and Bobby Hantz (David Selby), who were dubbed in the street Batman and Robin for their high arrest numbers and honesty. Photographer-turned-director Gordon Parks (“Superfly”/”Shaft’s Big Score!”/”Shaft”)seems to have fun directing this wacky fact based crime story with an ear for comedy and cartoonish performances. Lorenzo Semple Jr.’s (wrote for the Batman TV series) screenplay is based on the 1973 biography by L. H. Whitemore.

David Greenberg (Ron Leibman) and Bobby Hantz (David Selby) meet at the police academy in NYC, sometime in the late 1960s, and the two wise-asses develop a deep friendship, and share a belief in not going by the book to get the bad guy and not giving a rat’s ass who they tick off. Even while at the academy, they team up to make significant arrests. As rookies, they are assigned a traffic beat in Manhattan. But when collaring criminals on their days off, they upset their stodgy bosses and get transferred to the crime-ridden Brooklyn slum of Bedford Stuyvesant. The noble cops, working in a downtrodden area and in an environment that featured dirty cops, went after the drug dealers and brought down the infamous Hayes brothers, the neighborhood’s biggest supplier. The boys did it despite being hated by many of their fellow precinct cops and not going by the book, and despite the many attempts by their colleagues to trap them into being cops on the take.

It follows an episodic story line, that shows their contact with the black prostitute Sara (Sheila Frazier), with the black community and the drug kingpins, their peculiar relationship with their tormented precinct police captain (Dan Frazer), their antagonistic precinct police lieutenant (Joseph Sirola), and how they were hated by the arrogant police Inspector (Pat Hingle) who even tried to get evidence they were corrupt despite their quality arrests by attempting to bribe them.

The pic comes at a time before the Knapp Commission began to internally investigate the large amount of corruption on the force. It works as a Serpico-like pic but one with a more comical approach.