It’s Burl here with a little 80s neo-noir! I guess it’s more just a thriller - it doesn’t attempt to recapture the noir style like Body Heat or something, but at the same time it has many of the tropes we associate with the noir genre, in particular a main character who finds himself in a quicksand of trouble thanks to his own poor judgment! The patsy in question is played by famed leatherman Roy Scheider, whom we know so well from Jaws and Sorcerer, and the picture is called 52 Pick-Up!
Scheider plays a wealthy industrialist who hasn’t forgotten his blue-collar roots, and who, despite being married to Ann-Margret from Grumpy Old Men, is playing a game of bohankie on the side with the lamentably late Kelly Preston from Mischief! A blackmail gang made up of John Glover from Gremlins 2, Clarence Williams III from Tough Guys Don’t Dance, and living gumdrop Robert Trebor from My Demon Lover take the requisite pictures and put the screws to the fancy car-driving beefjerky!
You can guess where it goes from there! Scheider immediately confesses to his wife, then sets about resisting the blackmailers with all his leather! They raise the stakes, and soon grisly murder becomes a flower in their bouquet! Scheider is implicated, so can’t go to the cops, and because this is an 80s movie it eventually comes down to such predictable events as a gun battle in a house and, finally, an exploding car! Ha ha!
John Frankenheimer, who brought us The Train and Prophecy, is the somewhat unlikely director of the picture, and he gives it the kind of B movie sauce someone like Alan Pakula or Sidney Lumet would have eschewed! It’s a little bit too bad the Elmore Leonard story was relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles, and the L.A. location is never used to its full potential; but on the other hand, the cast all do fine work! The leads are all good, as are the blackmailers, and there’s solid support from the likes of Vanity, whom we recall from Deadly Illusion, and Doug McClure from Tapeheads and Humanoids From the Deep! Clarence Williams III is especially good here, as the sort of scary fellow you’d be better off avoiding!
It’s no super-barnburner, but this is a well put together 80s thriller that gets lost in all the Jagged Edges and Morning Afters and what have you! And, ha ha, it’s a Cannon production, so it’s not afraid to get a little sleazy around the edges, with the pornoo parties and so forth! I enjoyed 52 Pick-Up, and I give it two and a half deadly car cassettes!