Action Double Feature: 99 And 44/100% Dead & The Nickel Ride
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The Nickel Ride: Cooper (Jason Miller, The Exorcist), known as the key man because of his large ring of keys, manages several warehouses containing the Mobs stolen goods. When the Mob has stolen so much that they are running out of space, they send Cooper to negotiate for a new warehouse. His boss gets nervous and, believing the big-hearted key man to be more of a risk than an asset, orders him to be watched. Also starring Linda Haynes (Rolling Thunder) and Bo Hopkins (The Wild Bunch). Directed by Robert Mulligan (To Kill A Mockingbird).
99 and 44/100% Dead: In a future where the laws of reality have been suspended, Harry Crown (Richard Harris) is a hit man whos been hired by Mafia don Uncle Frank (Edmond OBrien) to eliminate Big Eddie (Bradford Dillman), a rival gangster who has been moving in on his turf. Big Eddie counters with his own enforcer, Marvin Claw Zuckerman (Chuck Connors), and as the rival killers attempt to destroy each other, some wild high-speed chases ensue. Directed by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Seconds).
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Top customer reviews
The keeper of this set is a movie I hadn't seen or heard of before: Robert Mulligan's 'The Nickel Ride.' It's a quiet thriller-- a character study, really-- about a respected, aging mafia property manager ('The Exorcist''s Jason Miller) who discovers too late that his services have become obsolete to those who employ him. No surprise that this modest project flew under the radar, as it features no major stars and generates only a little heat in the action/suspense department (notoriety crib-death when you're released in the same year as 'Jaws,' 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and 'Dog Day Afternoon'); but performances all around are sensational, and the beaten-down '70s Manhattan mood (interrupted with great metaphorical impact in the second act by a bucolic-cabin-in-the-woods scenery change) evokes a compelling sense of time and place. Picture and audio are also first-rate. 3 1/2 stars for the film; 4 stars for presentation.
What really seals the deal for this set is THE NICKEL RIDE, by another critically acclaimed director, Richard Mulligan (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE). The film features the late Jason Miller in the lead role, who's a hometown hero in the area I live (Northeast PA). Miller's two claims to fame are his 1973 Pulitzer Prize winning play THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON (also a 1982 film that he directed, partially in Scranton) and his role as Father Karras in THE EXORCIST. Miller's also terrific in THE DAIN CURSE, an underrated 1978 TV mini-series that faithfully adapted Dashiell Hammett's famous novel and ranks up there IMHO with THE THIN MAN, THE GLASS KEY and THE MALTESE FALCON......
Miller plays Cooper, a mob "keyman" who's in charge of their warehouses in then super grungy and gritty New York City. "Coop" is under pressure trying to finalize a deal for a new warehouse, all the old ones are full. On top of that, the crooked cop he's dealing with is trying to put the squeeze on him for more $$$, one of his buddies is having trouble with a boxer unwilling to throw a fight, his boss (John Hillerman, BLAZING SADDLES, MAGNUM P.I., in an atypical creepy role) is passing along pressure from above, and he's saddled with mentoring a overly-friendly cowboy wannabe (Bo Hopkins, MONTE WALSH, THE GETAWAY) who may or may not be "gunning" for his job...literally. Miller is perfect as man having trouble accepting changing times and alliances, the weight of his worries and increasing paranoia driving him to the breaking point. I was especially impressed with Victor French (LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN) as Cooper's bar-owner best friend Paddie, like Hillerman in an atypical role, I didn't even recognize him at first! The anamorphic widescreen Panavision transfer is fittingly grainy but virtually spotless, the only extra is a trailer. If your a fan of gritty downbeat mean streets realism, this nickel's heads up......
The comic book inspired opening credits and morbidly bizarre prologue warn what's to follow, a mish-mashed semi-comic overly-mannered satire about a war between rival gangsters. An atypically (3rd time) laid back Richard Harris (MAJOR DUNDEE, CAMELOT, GLADIATOR) whose blond pageboy and over-sized glasses reminds one of a male Edith Head, plays "Harry Crown" the best Irish hit-man around, who's hired by gang-boss Uncle Frank (O'Brien) to help him defeat his rival, Big Eddie (Bradford Dillman, COMPULSION, THE WAY WE WERE). Harry re-hooks up with sexy girlfriend Buffy (Ann Turkel), who's a 3rd Grade Teacher (!) when she isn't hanging around nightclubs. She warns him that HIS rival, Marvin "Claw" Zuckerman is also in town working for Big Eddie. "Claw," who lost his left hand because of Harry, is played by Chuck Connors (THE RIFLEMAN, THE BIG COUNTRY, SOYLENT GREEN), milking it for all it's worth. There's a scene where he shows a hooker all his prosthetic attachments worth the price of admission alone. The first half's plot set-up with the over-mannered dialog and performances eventually gives way to a standard run-of-the-mill chase and shoot-em-up programmer. There's also a ho-hum romantic subplot between Harry's young sidekick Tony (David Hall) and Uncle Frank's "adopted daughter" Baby (Kathrine Baumann). Both Turkel and Baumann are lookers, but anyone expecting any '70's gratuitous T&A will have to make-do with Richard Harris' bare derriere. Edmund O'Brien looks great as the natty gangster and gets to chew Cuban cigars and the scenery for the last time. It's sad knowing this was his final credit, he slowly succumbed to the ravages of Alzheimer's disease until his passing in 1985. Also worth noting, according to Christopher Frayling's excellent Sergio Leone biography "Something To Do With Death," the opening prolog's underwater graveyard tour was stolen from an idea the Italian master was considering as the opening of his long-gestating ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA! The anamorphic Panavision transfer looks great with nary a scratch, the only extras are theatrical and TV trailers. A strange artifact for sure, but lightens the mood considerably after watching THE NICKEL RIDE. Without his credit you'd never guess this was a John Frankenheimer film in a million years......