Night of the Juggler (1980) Thanos’s Dad Rips Through NYC To Find His Kidnapped Girl

Lieutenant Tonelli (Richard S. Castellano) raced up the steps as fast as he could for a round man like himself. Out of breath he took charge of the crime scene. What now? You could see it washed over his face, he’d seen it all, it was a constant in his life. Crime of New York City coming at him twenty four seven. “What’s it this time?” he shouts. The duty cop replies, “It’s another bomb threat from those Puerto Rican National Liberation Front lot.” “You gotta be kidding! Not them again!” He takes a deep breathe, exhales, and shakes his head whilst rubbing his temples. “I gotta feeling it’s gonna be another goddamn New York day!” He wasn’t wrong. Lt Tonelli would soon be caught up with the carnage about to hit his New York streets.

Not far away, running late, was Sean Boyd (James Brolin). He had just finished his work shift driving trucks. Hurrying through the busy streets to get back to his little girl, his sweetheart, Kathy (Abby Bluestone). It was his daughter’s birthday and her mum had let her spend it with Dad. She preferred him. They all knew it. He was always fun. Sean picks up hot dogs on his way. Sean banters with the vendor who replies, “You can’t kill New York and you certainly can’t kill the hotdog!“. Sean smiled as he bags the food, breakfast sorted. He was ready to surprise her with tickets for the ballet and a trip to Ronnie MacDonald after. She was on a diet and she would let him know but this was daddy time. First, she had to go to school, he walked with her halfway through the busy park. They split before they would meet later. As soon as he turns his back… She is snatched with a YELL!

Tagline – In the heart of every victim is a hero and he’ll tear apart a city to prove it.

Gus Soltic the Mole Man (Cliff Gorman) was a troubled young man. Maybe autistic? He was alone and bitter. His whole world, his neighbourhood, had changed. The urban landscape laid in ruins. Left to rot. Crime had risen, buildings and shops vacant and murder, rape, and crime, filled every day. He was lost, damaged, and consumed with hatred. He wanted money to compensate his misgivings. Many hours he planned how. To kidnap the teenage daughter of a wealthy businessman. To demand a million dollars ransom or he would do unimaginable things. His prey ran through the park routinely. Every school day at the same time. He’d wait. She’d come to him. Then he would grab her in pure daylight. Pull her straight into his car. So quick that no one would even notice as the busy bustling Central Park carried on doing its thing. His plan was perfect. It went off like clockwork. The only problem? Gus didn’t realise he’d kidnapped the wrong girl… This was Sean’s little girl, and he was gonna tear the city apart like a bulldozer.

Sean Boyd looked like Serpico. They had both gone down similar paths. Both New York City cops that had blew the whistle on the rampant corruption deep within the force. Sean had lost his job as a result. He was now a delivery truck driver. Still his NYPD blood pumped through his veins and it exploded him into action. The second he heard his girl scream he was running on a war path and Gus hadn’t written that option into his perfect executed plans. Panicked, he drives, ploughing through cars, pedestrians and traffic signs. This was a busy park. The carnage and disarray threw people running in all directions. Sean was focused. Eyes on his daughter. He never tired. The adrenaline fired him to the max. Each time Gus got the better of him, Sean would surprise him. Whether it was help from a concerned and overeager cab driver Allesandro (Mandy Patinkin). Screaming “Son of a bitch wants to play chicken hey?” as his jumps the curb in fast pursuit. Too fast. Crash! The cabbie is out of the picture and Sean is back on foot tearing down the 42nd Street, Manhattan. The chase is frantic. He’s twisted his ankle, it could be broken. Never stops running. Gus and Kathy in sight all the time… Then they are gone…

The path of destruction went back for many blocks. Steam rose from car radiators, broken fenders blocked roads as irate drivers blasted their horns and threw out profanities in frustration. The streets were filled with anger. The cops had to stop it. Frantically, Sean had been beaten down and arrested. He was the chief suspect for this City wide carnage. Roughly, he was dragged to the busy public hospital to have his leg looked at. Sean was obviously mad. No one would listen to him. Lt Tonelli turns up. Could he clean up this mess? “You’ll a frigging one man riot Boyd! Hit and run, assaulting a transit officer, grand theft auto. For crying out loud Boyd don’t you know that stuff is against the law.” Sean Boyd replies in earnest, “It was a ten thirteen, I was pursuing a felon.” “I know, I know but Boyd you forgot one thing? You ain’t a cop no more.” Lt Tonelli demands Sean be taken down the precinct, file a report whilst getting him off the street before he gets killed or others while trying.

Tagline – HE IS FIGHTING BACK…NOW, THE HUNTED IS THE HUNTER!

Nothing holds Sean back. He recalls that the kidnapper, possibly, dropped something around 42nd street. It was the last place on the chase before he lost them. He was vaguely sure one of the porno girls picked it up out a peepshow. Slim, short dark hair. He tied to picture her. It could be something? But first he had to escape the precinct and a sadistic Sergeant (Dan Hedaya) with nothing but pure hatred for this snitching ex-cop.

Lt Tonelli will soon join the dots together when a call comes in from a wealthy household complaining that a psychotic man keeps phoning demanding money for their kidnapped daughter. If the ransom is not received at the given time she will be cut up into little pieces. The teenage girl was still at home? Was this madman implying that he would take her? Lt Tonelli bugs the phones and tries to negotiate. Could the Lieutenant puzzle together the identity of the abductor, his whereabouts, the motives and also help this young girl before anything tragic happened. And hopefully stop another runaway freight train smash rampaging through his city bringing even more paperwork for him to write out! It was gonna be a hectic day…

A Few Things

  • Night of the Juggler was written in the mid seventies by author William P McGivern. He had worked for a few years as a police reporter for the Philadelphia Bulletin which may give to the realism of this stories. Juggler is later in his career that had seen three fantastic film story lines he had penned being turned into film. Like Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) with Harry Belafonte and Robert Ryan and The Big Heat (1953) starring Glen Ford and Gloria Grahame and also the Edmond O’Brien cop goes real naughty, Shield For Murder (1954).
  • Director Sidney J Furie, who had directed one of my favourite spy dramas starring Michael Caine as Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File (1965), had started work on Juggler. During the intense chase action scene it is said that James Brolin managed to break his leg. You can see in the film that he ends up limping a lot. This brought on tensions during the production leading to Furie being replaced by director Robert Butler. Both directors have numerous accolades in film and television. To me, there didn’t feel like any break in the quality of the action to where the cross over may of been.
  • Sean Boyd’s visit to the peep show is frenzied and riotous. It’s funny and seriously bonkos! I believe, from what I read, the peepshow booth itself was actually a set piece they had knocked up. The whole sex club walk through foyer is a truly brilliant and a wonderfully chaotic scene.
  • During his frantic tearing through the streets he gets a helping hand from a beautiful Latina in the fine form of Julie Carmen who plays Maria. She’s a much more classy version to Mercy (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) from The Warriors (1979). Night of the Juggler has a vibe of Walter Hill’s street gang classic, what with it being filmed in the same era. Juggler was her debut film. Julie Carmen will be known to many dribbling young lads as the super sexy vampiress Regine Dandrige in Fright Night Part 2 (1988). Oh my days she was so darn hot! Julie also starred alongside Sam Neill in John Carpenter’s horror In the Mouth of Madness (1994).
  • James Brolin made a great low budget cult movie in The Car (1977) and a couple of my fav science fiction movies in Westworld (1973) and Capricorn One (1977). Richard S. Castellano played Clemenza in the daddy of gangster movies, The Godfather (1972). Cliff Gorman was the gangster rapping Italian Sonny Valerio in the great Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999). Mandy Patinkin, in a small but fun part, is a familiar face on TV from being in hit shows like Dead Like Me, Criminal Minds and the recent Homeland. Which leaves Dan Hedaya who’s known for The Usual Suspects (1995), Mulholland Drive (TV1999/2001) and the Coen Brothers brilliant debut Blood Simple (1984).

Verdict

I may of mapped out the beginning but don’t worry there’s so much more. This movie is frantic, exciting and right in your face. It’s a pure fire adrenaline rush of a film. I noticed a review with the title “A Time Capsule of Sleazy NYC” that suits it down to a tee. Being filmed in mid 1978 it really shows NYC in all it’s wild grittiness. When you witness the chase scene you can only imagine it was caught on the fly, in a guerrilla style of film-making. I just couldn’t imagine, in anyway, that the department of New York City would of sanctioned the carnage of the chase though the main streets. However in the closing credits there’s a big thank you to the police, water board and the parks and recreations board “for their exceptional cooperation.” I was surprised, hehe.

The mind-blowing problem with Night of the Juggler is when you go try and find it. For some reason it never got a released on DVD let alone Blu-ray! I have no idea why? Please let me know if you have knowledge to this or better still, if you know of an impending future release. So as I type the only way to watch it is in VHS quality rips that have been uploaded to Youtube. The quality is very grainy and in a few scenes, so dark you can’t quite work out what going on. However, luckily these are only a few times. The main bulk of the action, in the daylight, is there for all to see. So, on a plus side it’s amazing that you can get a fantastic chance to watch this movie but it’s unfortunate that it’s the best you can get, at this time. Like the film I reviewed called Enemy Territory (1987) you can add it to the, “crying out for a proper release“, list. If you want to see it, you have to embrace the old ways and take yourself back to the time when you wouldn’t of even battered an eyelid to the quality. Night of the Juggler is here to stream. However feel free to try a few of the uploads, there’s lots of them, as one might be better than an other.

For me, it gets a solid wolfie rating of 8.5/10 and the hope of watching it again real soon in high-definition?

Hope you get to see it, feel free to pop back and let me know if you do. If you have seen it? What did you think?

Happy viewing…….. Mikey Wolf.

17 thoughts on “Night of the Juggler (1980) Thanos’s Dad Rips Through NYC To Find His Kidnapped Girl

  1. Mikey, you have made a most egregious mistake…a mistake so awful that it negates any exclamation points…a mistake so hideous that it reminds me of my mother saying nary a word as she sipped her soup while I frantically tried to explain my most horrific f@$# up…
    You asserted that James Brolin looks like Serpico…No. He does NOT look like Serpico…He looks like Adonis. Like Michelangelo’s David…(I’m sipping my soup now.)
    Okay. You are forgiven. Ha! Just kidding…sort of…
    I remember Night of The Juggler. How could I forget that fantastic title?! And your review is befitting of the title, I must say. How foolish of me to shirk seeing it back in the day! Now I’ll have to settle for a washed out VHS copy on YouTube…Ah! Serves me right.
    Wonderful review, Mikey.
    –Pam

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha I just gone round the house and made sure all my doors and windows are locked before the arrival of the irate Texan comes a knocking with her fists of fury. LOL
      HEHE I love it Pam. You know what if I was that way inclined I’d only have James on my arm plus his son is easy on the eye too. Al got the hard cold cash though but too short for me. hehe. JB all day.
      I didn’t really mean “looked like” even if it does say that. More that he’s got a big beard and was a whistle blower.
      Maybe I should of said “was” like or looked like Serpico “on paper”? If I change it none of these two comments will make any sense!!! smiley face..
      Either way I deeply apologise for my sins and hope that one day in time you feel that you can, in someway, forgive my impertinence.

      It’s a crazy title isn’t it. Plus I waited an hour and a half to find there was no juggling show?
      Fingers crossed this little review will set off a chain of events that one day gets to fire up another angered lady in a ball of hot steam. So much so she goes about getting a high-def copy printed to show me the difference between super hunk JB and, well…., AP.
      Than I can rub my hands together and say “My secret plan worked!” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Mikey! This never got a proper release on disc and yes, that’s a crime. I saw this in a theater in NYC when it was released and it knocked me for a loop. It’s one of those crazy flicks set in this city that’s perfectly grimy and proud of it. I still want a more pristine version on disc at some point, though.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Greg. WOW buddy you got to see it in the theater! In it’s rightful settings of NYC. Me thinking of that now seems crazy and surreal. A young Greg sat there with his popcorn watching real life happen on the screen. It must of been like looking through a window in the theater into the city LOL. Then you get up to leave and walk through all the film set! Like the most immersive cinema experience.
      “I still want a more pristine version on disc” Me too dude, me too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, here’s a fun addition- I think it was a few weeks after seeing the film when I was off to Times Square to catch another film or go play some arcade games and while hopping aboard the shuttle at 42nd Street, a slim cute woman gets on the train and I immediately recognize her from her short, but memorable cameo in the film.

        It was Sharon Mitchell, who I didn’t know was also an adult film actress (well, at the tender age of under, I had no idea until a few years later!). She may have been going to work at one of the many adult clubs in the area, but that’s just a guess and in any event, at that that time, if you asked me what a adult club was, I’d have said that was how cavemen got their spouses (yikes!)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Superb story Greg thanks so much for sharing.
          Haha that did make me chuckle to myself thinking of the adult actress Sharon Mitchell. SM’s a famous fictional barmaid character on one of Britain’s longest running soap operas Eastenders.
          Of course I had to go look at google images. Wow it was her in the film. She only has a small part (small parts to be honest lol) but it’s a really good scene she’s in and gets to help JB after his beating.
          For more research into SM work I might have to track down “Motorcycle Mistress Mamas” or maybe “Star Ship Intercourse” LOL.

          Like

  3. Pam’s poetic reveries on James Brolin are hilarious. He does indeed look good in those pics!
    I’ve never heard of this movie. Where have I been? Who knows? I didn’t get into “man” movies until I was older, though. But your opening description was almost like watching it, lol !! Great lead-in !!! I would definitely see it today, looking VERY forward to “You wanna play chicken?!!” and “You ain’t a cop no more!!”, among whatever else is in there, hahaha.

    Love The Car, Westworld, Dead Like Me, Mulholland Drive, and Usual Suspects (although I don’t remember Brolin in Westworld! Say wha…?! Please don’t tell me he was the main guy running from Yul Brenner. Please don’t!)
    I also don’t recall this Julie lady in Mouth of Madness, a movie hubby loves but one that really gets under my skin, probably ’cause it does such a good job of making you FEEL like you’re in the actual mouth of madness. But I HATE things like driving along a street and passing the same bike rider you just passed a mile back. I hate that, lol !!!
    She reminds me a little of our very liberal NYC representative OAC. Of course, Julie is movie star prettier, but still…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha yes Pam’s JB love and the Mikey smashing was very funny 🙂
      Don’t worry, I hadn’t ever heard of it before either. I spied the cover poster of his big face ripping through the city landscape and I was SOLD! It didn’t disappoint in anyway. Well squinting through the dark grainy scenes weren’t great but hey, you gotta suck it up if you wanna see it..
      The poor guy legging it from the baldy YB gunfighter in black was Richard Benjamin. JB played his buddy who travels to the “fun” park with him.
      Not sure I got the balls to go back and watch Mouth of Madness even if it’s just to see Julie Carmen! I will defo watch Fright Night 2 again though. A double review would be good fun I feel.
      Oh yes I see the OAC comparison with Julie. I did like her Breakfast Club roof dance that she was way too cool in and and super hot. (Such a funny back fire story that was)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Have not seen this since the VHS rental days and I’m hungering for a revisit and a blu release. Just remember it was an in your face thrill ride with Brolin who was at that time on a roll with movies that excited me. Great pick.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mike. It was so much fun. Up till then it was the first I’d heard of it. That poster of him literally ripping through the buildings sold it to me hook line and sinker. It was so good. With the comment below this one, it doesn’t sound like we will be seeing a blu-ray any time soon. Boo.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. NIGHT OF THE JUGGLER is unlikely ever to see a DVD or Blu Ray release. This movie was produced by the General Cinema Corporation which operated a large theater chain back then. When it went bankrupt in the late 80’s a bank took possesion of its assets ncluding this movie (and the Gary Busey movie FOOLN’ AROUND) and has no interest in doing a deal with any distributors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What can I say Michael, this is one fantastic piece of knowledge. Amazing to hear but at the same time it’s very sad to think this, imho, thrilling and excellent movie will never get cleaned up and given the release it so deserves. Oh I was so hoping to watch it again in some sort of higher definition. HA I hadn’t even heard of that Gary Busey film Foolin Around. I wonder if they are stored somewhere in a vault? Though the reality is they probably been thrown in a trash bin many years ago.
      I went off and read about General Cinema Corporation. I seen the Popcorn Bob and Pepsi Sue characters before I’m sure though it may of been on something like Mystery Science Theater 2000 or the like.
      Fingers crossed someone stumbles upon the Night of the Juggler reels but I see that’s not likely.
      Thank you so much for the great comment. I really appreciate it.
      All the best… Mikey

      Like

    • It’s a little bit clunky yes in a few places, mainly, possibly, the Dan Hedaya psycho terminator police sergeant. But it was all good to me. I love dropping myself into the era and can forgive many things of times. I couldn’t believe it had never crossed my radar before. I had so much fun with it.
      Yes it so needs a DVD/Blu-ray clear up and release but as the comment above say it’s most probably never gonna happen with General Cinema Corporation bankrupt case. Boo. I could sit and watch it right again. Brilliant to hear you had it on VHS. Respects EB 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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