Stone cold classic of gritty, dirty, bankrupt 70s New York. An ensemble almost entirely made up of amazing character actors. Matthau is the kind of every man hero we don't get as much any more. Funky ass score. Love the humor in the denouement. The remake can take it in the dumper.
This film is absolutely impeccable. The dialogue, acting, camera work, setting, pacing, etc, is all tight, effective, and flawless. At times humorous, violent, suspensful, sarcastic, but never boring or lagging in any way. I haven't seen the remake but I'm puzzled to find that anyone could believe for a second that they could upgrade this.
I know its a cliche to say this, but they don't make movies like this anymore. The authentic NY atmosphere and speech, the genuine intensity, narrative arch and performances PERFORMANCES. Robert Shaw is chilling, young Hector Elizondo is scary and Matthau...goes from depth to comedy in a split second. Classic.
One of the great music scores of any film, but also one of the best on location films ever. Up there with Dassin's Naked City and French Connection for my money. The cast is impeccable. Everyone is just top notch and gives their characters so much life. Probably Matthaus best non-comedic role, although his face at the end is hysterical. 5 easy stars. Essential 70s classic
Self destroys in the last half hour, being entirely predictable and unrewarding. Walter Matthau knows nothing all the time, but is given a lot of screen time. Some details could expand to social commentary but they never do. I wished the Color Gang won the day against this lame New York.