Monday, May 1, 2023

A Look Back At Ed McBain's 87th Precinct Film 'Fuzz'

I began to read and enjoy Ed McBain's 87th Precinct crime novels when I was a teenager in the 1960s. 

(Ed McBain is seen in the below photo). 

I also read his literary novels, written under his name Evan Hunter, such as The Blackboard Jungle, and A Matter of Conviction, a novel about New York street gangs that was made into one of my favorite films from the 1960s, The Young Savages. The film starred Burt Lancaster and Telly Savalas.

Evan Hunter changed his name legally from his name at birth, Salvatore Lombino. He died in 2005.

One of the 87th Precinct crime novels I enjoyed was Fuzz, written in 1968.

The crime novel featured the 87th regular cops, such as Detective Steve Carella, and a reoccurring bad guy in the crime series, “The Deaf Man.”

I also watched and enjoyed the 1972 film Fuzz, based on McBain’s novel, which starred Burt Reynolds as Carella and Yul Brenner as “The Deaf Man.” McBain wrote the screenplay for the action-comedy.  

Lee Pfeiffer at offers his take on the 1972 film Fuzz.

In reviewing "Fuzz" when it opened in 1972, Vincent Canby of the New York Times noted that the film looks more like a dress rehearsal than a finished movie and was obviously intended to appeal to viewers who had a limited attention span. In contrast, Roger Ebert said he was put off by the exploitive elements of the movie poster, but in the end called it a funny, quietly cheerful movie. I guess I land in the same ballpark as Ebert, although I'm not without criticism of the film, which was based on author Ed McBain's popular "87th Precinct" novels that explored the excitement and absurdities found in a modern, big city police department. The film has an impressive ensemble cast: Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch (reunited after co-starring in "100 Rifles"), Tom Skeritt, Jack Weston and Raquel Welch, who appears rather fleetingly despite her prominent billing. Oh, and the bad guy is played by Yuel Brynner, who appears rather late in the film in a limited number of scenes.

The film is primarily played for laughs and it's scattershot plot jumps around at a dizzying pace. The action takes place in the aforementioned 87th Precinct in Boston, a run-down venue located in a troubled part of the city. The plot focuses on a harried group of cynical detectives who report to their equally cynical, burned-out boss, Lt. Byrnes (Dan Frazer). The precinct is depicted as decrepit and as worn-out as its inhabitants. There's a lot of chaotic action going on throughout the day with various local miscreants and eccentrics clogging up the works, much to the frustration of the burned-out cops.  The plot sees seasoned veteran cops Steve Carella (Burt Reynolds), Bert Kling (Tom Skerritt) and Meyer Meyer (you read that right) (Jack Weston) trying to cope with the chaos- as well as the arrival of a strikingly beautiful policewoman who has been assigned to the precinct, Eileen McHenry (Raquel Welch). Among the cases being investigated simultaneously are the identities of the creeps who have been setting local hobos on fire, a serial rapist, various petty crimes and a late-breaking, high-profile threat posed by an unknown man who phones in death threats aimed at local public officials. When the ransom he demands isn't paid, said officials are bumped off in a high profile manner despite intense efforts by the police to thwart the plots. The villain is known as The Deaf Man (Yul Brynner), a sophisticated brute with the persona of a Bond villain, who employs a small team of loyal and very competent crooks to help him carry out the various assassinations.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link: 


And you can watch the film via the below link:

Fuzz (1972) Burt Reynolds, Yul Brynner, Raquel Welch - Action, Comedy - YouTube

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