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.

The Long Haul (1957) Truckers, Gangsters And A Smoking Hot Bombshell

A review for this British fifties thriller centered around organised crime controlling the trucking industry called The Long Haul (1957)

What’s going down?

When American serviceman Harry Miller has served his time in Allied occupied Germany at the end of World War Two he dreams of returning back home and settling down. He’d married and had a son with the English born Connie. She’d lived her life away from home to be with Harry. Desperate to see her family before making the big trip to America she asks Harry to move to her hometown of Liverpool. Uncle Jeff has a trucking company. He’ll have work for you. Save some money, get ready to move and say goodbye to family. What’s the worse that can happen? Keep out the way of Joe Easy and his gangsters and all will be ok?

Harry Miller not impressed with his wife’s idea – “Who want’s to work for Uncle Sam when you can work for Uncle Jeff!!

The main players

Victor Mature plays Harry Miller
Diana Dors plays Lynn
Patrick Allen plays Joe Easy
Gene Anderson plays Connie Miller
Peter Reynolds plays Frank
Liam Redmond plays Casey
Michael Wade plays Butch Miller
Murray Kash plays Jeff

Tagline – Drivers Fight Crime and Corruption in Battle for Control of Truck Industry!

Sure I’ve seen them in something?

I know everyone says it but Victor Mature could easily be Sylvester Stallone Dad. I’d shamefully admitted when I’d reviewed the excellent Violent Sunday (1955) that I’d been sure I’d never seen him before. I now know I had in Samson and Delilah (1949). However, after that statement and a collection of knowledgeable great recommends in the comment section, I have now watched Kiss Of Death (1947), I Wake Up Screaming (1941) and Cry of the City (1948). All films I’d happily watch again and hopefully find time to review. Also he was hilarious playing alongside Peter Sellers in the comedy After the Fox (1966). Skimming through Victor’s bio on IMDB I came across his personal quotes. He really made me laugh. Here’s a few.

I’m no actor, and I’ve got 64 pictures to prove it.

On retiring in his mid 40s “It wasn’t fun anymore. I was OK financially, so I thought what the hell… I’ll become a professional loafer.

I loaf very gracefully. There’s a lot to be said about loafing if you know how to do it gracefully.

Recently (in 1992), I was asked to play Sylvester Stallone’s father in a movie, so I gave them my price. It’s been a few weeks now and I haven’t heard, so it’s probably not going to happen.

I wasn’t pampered the way a Tyrone Power was. Zanuck would say to producers, “If you’re not careful, you son of a bitch, I’ll give you Mature for your next picture.

Diana Dors, with that jaw dropping voluptuous figure of hers had always been national treasure of British TV. Always saddled with the inevitable title of Britain’s version of Marilyn Monroe. Apart from lots of 70’s saucy comedies I’m shamed to say I hadn’t seen any of her serious work. This sounds bad but I’d always thought she was probably all looks and not a great actress. The Long Haul really proved this to be wildly wrong. OK she might of looked out of place turning heads in the greasy spoon truckers cafe but to be honest Dame Edna would of had the same effect to these fatigued lonesome truckers! Diana comes across soft and caring and really stood out, literally. She also has a great collection of funny life quotes.

They asked me to change my name. I suppose they were afraid that if my real name Diana Fluck was in lights and one of the lights blew …

I’m forty now and I can’t go on playing good time glamour girls and tarts forever. I want to play women my own age, now and in the future.”

The figure was fabulous, but my face was never much, little eyes and lips like rubber tires, I did well because I was the first and only British blonde bombshell.

I’ve played my share of drunken sluts, good time girls, and whores. Being bumped off is really no novelty for me. I’ve been shot, hanged, strangled, gassed, burned to death, and even pushed off a cliff. And for an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955), I was sawn in half by an electrical buzz saw.

I was the first home-grown sex symbol, rather like Britain’s naughty seaside postcards. When Marilyn Monroe’s first film was shown here, The Asphalt Jungle (1950), a columnist actually wrote “How much like our Diana Dors she is.“.

The gangster who controls the organised crime through the trucking industry is Joe Easy, played by Patrick Allen. Where he had been in many other productions I believe this was his first major part. At first I thought it was Stanley Baker with a bigger chin! They do look rather similar I thought. Patrick Allen has been in Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder (1954) and the British classic not classic, The Sea Wolves (1980) to name a few. One amazing thing is Patrick had a smash hit single in the charts! He was the narrator for British Protect and Survive public information films and his voice was used in 1984 Frankie Goes to Hollywood’sTwo Tribes“.

Notes on production?

The Long Haul was a novel by a writer called Mervyn Mills and published in 1956. It would soon be picked up by husband and wife team, Tony Owen and Donna Reed for their film company Todon Productions.

Director Ken Hughes is in the hot seat on organising duties. He also flips the novel into a screenplay. Ken Hughes made the, very recommended, two bit hustler and the strip club dancing girl movie, The Small World of Sammy Lee (1963) Plus (I haven’t seen it) he may not of want to be remembered for Sextette (1977) with Timothy Dalton dating an aged Mae West. The reviews are not kind at all and I’m actually tempted to give it a go. Feel free to give me the nod on other works

A 1955 Leyland Octopus, a 22 ton 8 wheel truck, is used throughout the film. Surely it had to be the ultimate advert for the truck sales? The end is filmed in the Scottish Highlands and honestly the stupidest route through the harshest landscape you could ever imagine taking an 8 wheeled truck. Giant boulders, sharp edged rock filled trials, freezing rivers. The Leyland truck throws itself at whatever dangerous situation comes it’s way. It must of sold by the “truck” load.

Hits like a sledge hammer

With a quick coffee break, Harry comments to his work colleague, Casey, about his choice in dinner guests at the halfway trucker’s stop. “Those boys look sharp?” he worries, to which Casey replies, as he pours some whisky in his tea, “Yeah sharp as a razor!“. Ready to move on, Harry returns to his truck. Those two wide-boys were stealing out the back supplies out the back of Casey’s vehicle. A frenzy of fists and thuds around the head as the Harry kicks and punches with the force of a freight train through these guys. Then, with a flick of the hand, out comes a switch blade. “Yeah sharp as a razor!“. The stakes in this fight had just changed. Still Harry doesn’t let up! Casey arrives with shock horror on his face. His cash in hand, off the back of a lorry, deal gone sour, he wouldn’t be getting paid for his side hustle!

Cutting remarks

Joe Easy – “You know the trouble with you Frank? You’re in the wrong business. With your stomach you should be selling ladies underwear.

Harry Miller –One thing you did to me, no woman should ever do to a man. You stood in my way. You knew I didn’t want to stay here and the minute I gave into you, what happened? Everything went wrong! Everything!

Lynn –I’m hungry and I want to go eat somewhere.
Joe Easy –If you want to eat something, then eat something.
Lynn –In this pig eat house?
Joe Easy – “Listen, you were serving in a pig house like this when I picked you up, baby. Watch out I don’t drop you right back among the pigs.

Verdict

Harry Miller is tough. Years in the army had shaped him. He was fundamentally a decent man. Honest and steadfast but as the cards stack against him he becomes closer to tipping over the edge. Smashing fists and billy clubs batter their way down on many skulls and faces. Beaten and bruised they just keep on trucking. Victor Mature himself might, jokingly, say he can’t act but from all the films I’ve seen him in whilst doing this film blog I always much enjoy seeing him on the screen. He looks tough and believable in the fight scenes and you feel for him and his sad puppy dog eyes when it all starts crashing in around him. And Diana Dors was a nice surprise for me. She was excellent every time she appeared on the screen. It must be extremely hard to convey your acting chops when your beauty is the showcase of the film, all lit up in full focus. I thought she portrayed a real sense of tenderness in her acting that pushed passed the wonderful hour glass figure, platinum blonde and to die for, bosoms….

All in all The Long Haul has enough action and drama to keep you glued to the screen. It’s well worth tracking down. It’s a gritty little thriller and melodrama. It’s here on YT at time of writing.

Rating score

Wolfman’s rating 8/10       IMDB 6.8/10

Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf

I leave you with two great publicity press photos.

Turn the Key Softly (1953) Joan Collins And Friends Are Released From Prison

Here’s a small review for Turn the Key Softly, a British thriller from 1953 about three female prisoners released on the same day from Holloway Prison. The drama follows the three convicts on the first day of their release. Waiting patiently in their prison uniform’s for their release orders. The three are from varying backgrounds and standing in society. Each had committed a different crime but nothing that had resulted in long hard time, yet…

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Doomwatch (1972) A British Thriller Reviewed For Mystery & Suspense Magazine

I was excited to be asked if I’d like to do a review for an American Mystery and Suspense magazine. I said “Are you sure?” “Have you read my reviews?” “They are not in anyway normal!” The editor must of been on happy pills because he still went for it. Which I’m very grateful for. So here it is…. A full spoiler review of a 70s Brit film called DOOMWATCH and it’s MASSIVE!! So be warned if you did have a wave of madness come over you and contemplated reading it!!! hehe. The original review can be found here Mystery and Suspense Doomwatch Review.



So you can’t quite imagine yourself venturing out to see this British low budget mystery thriller called Doomwatch? Well why not? Let the Wolfman take you on a spoiler-filled journey instead. It’s generally me having a giggle at the film’s expense, I’m afraid. Having said that, I will quickly add, it’s actually a pretty good story. It’s just surrounded by pure crazy!

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Trespass (1992) Bill Paxton & Ice-T In The Legend Of Mullet’s Gold

Burning ash embers and thick clouds of grey toned smoke filled the hallway. Two brave firemen smash through a burning apartment door. On his knees, an agitated old man frantically digs through his belongings. He turns, his eyes half crazed, full of fear. With shouts of confused nonsense, he pushes a scruffy old envelope towards the firefighters. Taken by surprise the firemen helplessly try to reach out to the deranged old man. In a flash of madness, he wildly runs deeper into the burning flames, screaming to his agonising death. 

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3 Film Challenge To Live In Each Movie

A good friend sent me an idea for a film challenge last week, probably knowing it would either make my head explode or help my working day go that little bit faster. A time waster to busy the mind as I worked away.

  • You get to live in 3 movies for 3 days?
  • Each one has to be different but your last film you would have to stay in forever!
  • What would you choose ?
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