I’ve had this soundtrack since I was bout 16 years old. Bobby Womack writes and sings the title anthem Across 110th Street with just so much heart and passion that it’s not surprising it got picked up to feature on future soundtracks later on down the line. Most notably and incredibly well used in QT’s Jackie Brown but it also turned up in American Gangster with Denzel Washington.
The soundtrack is composed and conducted by the man with all the J’s trombonist J.J. Johnson. I tell you I nearly laid an egg when I picked it up and saw that ridiculously awesome cover photo with all the smoking gangsters and a table full of cash. (A posed photo that doesn’t appear in the film I may add.)
Remember getting home and dropping the needle on the record eagerly waiting to hear what sounds were going to be beamed into my ears. Oh sheeet! when the opening tune came blasting out through the airwaves I just stood there like a statue, taking it all in. Four minutes later I’ve returned the stylus to the beginning to rewind that sucka, the rest of the LP can wait a bit.
Later I find that there is in fact three versions on the theme tune, the other two being the instrumental, were JJ goes crazy with his trombone and a Part Two jam which mixes the whole tune around giving a great different take on it. Also of note on the soundtrack is the funky jam “Harlem Clavinette”, the firing fast Bobby tune “Quicksand” and the impossibly bliss and mellow “Harlem Love Theme”. It’s safe to say this soundtrack is one of my treasures.
Now I got to see the film in the early 90’s on VHS rented out from some local video shop which to honest was just someones front room, it now has been converted back into a house and you would never of known to this day that a shop filled with VHS cassette tapes used to be there.
Remember the feeling of seeing the tune play out in the opening scene with the panning shots of Harlem and driving down the street seeing all the shops, fashions and awesome looking cars passing on by. It’s an exceptional introduction to the film and you know what dude, that song just fitted like a glove, perfectly.
Watching it again this month was just a marvel, loved it on a whole new level. I could watch Yaphet Kotto washing his dirty laundry and still be enthralled in his performance. He has a wonderful presence to him. Yaphet plays Lieutenant William Pope, a by the book professional brought into the police precinct to look after things, much to the annoyance of Captain Frank Mattelli played by Anthony Quinn. A hard nosed no-nonsense unorthodox cop who gets results of sorts by just being tough. So it’s inevitable that these two are gonna butt horns together.
Tagline – If you steal $300,000 from the mob, it’s not robbery. It’s suicide.
After a robbery turns real nasty, resulting in the gunning down of a bunch of gangsters and a few cops. Three black dudes go on the run with the huge money haul they had grabbed. But you know the score, with any plan it’s only a matter of time until the cracks start to appear and you got black and white gangsters gunning for you and the cops closing down on your tail. Doom is fast approaching.
Paul Benjamin plays Jim Harris the leader of the robbery gang with Antonio Fargas aka Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch having a fantastic time with a bed full of hookers. lol.
This film gets thrown in with the blaxploitation genre but I really feel that it fits in with just about any good seventies cop drama of the time and has a real tight script, fantastic performances and is a extremely well made gritty film. It’s exciting, really violent and has a superb pace to it. If you haven’t seen it I thoroughly recommend you giving it a go.
Quentin Tarantino and the uber sexy Pam Grier nail the incredible opening scene of Jackie Brown (1997) whilst Bobby Womack smashes out his theme tune Across 110th Street. It’s just too perfect for words, check it out.