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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, March 20, 2023

Street People (1976)

This is a change of pace for me here at the site. I normally don’t cover crime dramas but here the cast and the fact that it is an odd US/Italian production caught my attention. The movie starts off with a Crime Boss, Salvatore, who insists he wants to retire and go legit. To that end he is working with his nephew, Ulisse, who is his lawyer to setup legitimate business ventures. He also has imported a crucifix from his hometown in Sicily anonymously. He had to since he and the priest have a history together and aren’t friendly.

The crucifix gets hijacked, and we find out it is full of drugs (heroin I think). This leads to Ulisse, who we find out works for the family and is keeping an eye out on his Uncle Salvatore, being told to find out what the hell is going on. The family was unaware of the shipment and has no idea who stole it. Both are big issues for them. Ulisse recruits a friend named Charlie, who is also a race car driver, to help him sort it out. After some twists and turns, the drugs are found, those responsible for the unauthorized shipment are punished, and a car goes over a cliff.

This movie is a mess but not terrible. This is an odd example of the whole not measuring the sum of its parts. What I mean by that is there are a lot of great scenes and decent performances that together should make for a decent movie, but don’t. Our lead actors Roger Moore (Ulisse) and Stacy Keach (Charlie) are both decent with what they are given. Keach especially is funny when he takes the hijackers car on a test drive and goes smashing it thru the streets of San Francisco. Together the pair do have good chemistry with Moore’s classy British attitude playing nicely off Keach’s crude American sensibilities.

We also get a cool car chase, some gunfights, a few fistfights, Roger Moore hanging out of the sunroof of a car wielding a shotgun, and lots more action. You would think that this movie was fun. But for a ninety minute long flick so much of it is slow and meandering. In addition to the good stuff there is a lot of talking amongst the family bosses about who is responsible. Then we get an inexplicable twist ending where it is never explained why Ulisse suddenly remembers what ends up being a very important plot point… spoilers he forgot his Uncle Salvatore killed his father! I mean that could happen right?

There is an extended bit with Ulisse going to Sicily to collect some information to figure out what is going on in San Francisco. It is obvious that this was shot because Moore was in England and could easily head to Italy to shoot so from a practical standpoint it makes sense. But when cut into the movie it becomes a distraction and doesn’t fit with the rest of the narrative. It feels tacked on and disrupts what should be us following the pair tracking down the hijackers. Oh, and in the end after spending time establishing the trio of bad guys they quickly dispatch them as the real bad guy behind everything suddenly becomes obvious. What was the point of them at all?

While doing research for this review I found an interview with Moore who stated that neither he nor Keach knew what kind of movie that the director and producer were trying to make. I think that is the best way to sum this one up. It had a lot of good ideas tied tenuously together with a paper thin plot that falls apart halfway thru. As much as I wanted to like Street People it’s bad. There are some great Italian crime flicks out there to watch. This is most certainly not one of them.   

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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