Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976)

Director: Peter Yates

Writers: Stephen Manes, Tom Makiewicz

Composer: No score

Starring: Bill Cosby, Raquel Welch, Harvey Keitel, Allen Garfield, Larry Hagman, L.Q. Jones, Bruce Davison, Dick Butkus, Milt Kamen, Barra Grant, Valerie Curtin, Severn Darden, Toni Basil, Arnold Williams

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They don't call them that for nothing!

Plot: Two privately owned ambulance companies compete for the city contract in LA. The focus, F+B Ambulance Service, has the wildest crew on the block. Cosby (Mother) plays the veteran driver to whom rules are meant to be bent. Keitel (Speed) is a cop on suspension for suspicion of drug peddling to minors who needs to pay the rent. Welch (Jugs) is the dispatch secretary with secret ambitions who won't give the boys in the bunkhouse the time of day. Drama and comedy bleed together over who makes the right decisions to land them in the money and keep them out of the hospital.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Here's an unusual movie that feels like it could only be made in the 70s.  The first hour plays as a comedy and then there's a scene with the drivers dealing with a pregnant movie that instantly shifts it to a drama and social commentary and that's about where it stays until the end of the picture...that is until Mother (Cosby) hits the siren on a running gag with nuns crossing a street (which is super funny).  Cosby is great and he really shows off his acting chops like he did in another serious drama, the 60s show I SPY.  Welch (as Jugs) just beams on the screen.  She's a great presence and she's a good actress.  She's got moxy! Haha.  Keitel underplays it (as he often did), being the silent, cool type.  But then next to Cosby and Welch he's going to seem low key.  It's not a bad film but it does have an unusual tonal shift that almost makes it feel like there was a top level studio power struggle or something.  And I don't mean to suggest that that's a bad thing.  I rather liked it but as a whole it's only moderately enjoyable.  I'd say it's a must see for any fans of the three leads plus you'll probably recognize a few familiar faces including L.Q. Jones and Arnold Williams.  The 20th Century Fox DVD has a great widescreen print and quite a few extras in the way of lots of trailers including this film's teaser, theatrical and Spanish trailers (all anamorphic widescreen), a TV spot (fullscreen of course) and trailers for Raquel Welch films (all anamorphic widescreen except where noted) with BANDOLERO!, FANTASTIC VOYAGE (fullscreen), FATHOM (non-anamorphic widescreen), MYRA BRECKINRIDGE and ONE MILLION YEARS B.C..  Even though I don't need to see the film again, it's almost worth keeping the DVD just for the great widescreen trailers.

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