Across 110th Street (1972) Poster

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Harlem at its most Hellish ...
Coventry9 April 2009
Unlike in most reviews there are to find on "Across 110th Street", I will try not to participate in the debate about whether or not the film classifies as a genuine Blaxploitation effort. I will, however, elaborate as much as I can on all the things that "Across 110th" does represent … and that is quite a lot! This is a bona fide gritty, vile, uncompromising and unceasingly violent action-thriller from the glorious early 70's. It's a hardcore-to-the-bone tale of corruptness and survival with solid acting performances and a tight screenplay, yet without pushy morality lessons or unnecessary sentimental interludes. "Across 110th Street" is arguably the best Blacks Vs Italians thriller ever made, and this intervened with a strong story about two completely unmatchable cops that are forced to work together results in an unimaginably powerful and unforgettable movie; albeit one that only can be enjoyed by people with strong stomachs and nerves of steel as the bloodshed is relentless and the level of suspense is unremitting. Petty thief Jim Harris and his two accomplices decide to steal a large sum of money from the Italian Mafiosi that are running the show in Harlem. The heist goes terribly wrong, though, and Harris kills no less than five gangsters and two police officers. The Italians send their most lethal psychopath to Harlem and the black gangster community organizes their own manhunt as well. Meanwhile the police force deals with internal racial issues. The aging and corrupt but veteran Captain Mattelli is forced to hand over the investigation to Lieutenant Pope, who's fresh out of university and still full of ideals. This is one of the grittiest and frighteningly realistic depictions of the crime-infested New York City district during the early 70's. There are hardly any amiable characters in the entire film, the ambiance is constantly on the verge of depressing and the downbeat ending comes a massive slap in the face. The racial tension between the "main" police officer characters is always present and noticeable, yet moral values and speeches are never shoved down the viewers' throats. The performances are incredible, particularly Anthony Franciosa as the crazed mafia killer and Paul Benjamin as the small thief turned murderer. But the utmost respect is for Anthony Quinn, for courageously illustrating a dismal and raw cop-character with his status in Hollywood. The soul soundtrack is amazing and the actual Harlem filming locations make the film all the more authentic. Barry Shear's direction is surefooted and tight, and I can't believe I haven't checked out some of his other work yet. I still have a copy of "The Todd Killings" lying around, so I hope it's as masterful as this film!
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What's the frequency Kenneth?
film-critic3 August 2008
"Across 110th Street" was more than just a cliché (yet it was full of them), it was deep and developed (yet had a simplistic story about cops and criminals), it was gritty and honest (yet overly-so enough to make you gasp, not laugh), and it was pure, uncut, cinematic genius from beginning to the wildly unseen ending. There were plenty of pitfalls for "Across 110th Street" to fall into, but it continually saved itself by being genuine and dark throughout. While the editing, albeit pure 70s cinema, was completely tangent, the film itself demonstrated the raw force of truth, giving us a rare (yet fictional) story of the changing of the guard in Harlem, the truth of its streets, and the minds of its criminals.

Sounding like a scene right out of "Dead Presidents", our story begins with three African Americans stealing money from the mob, only to transform the simple robbery into a battleground, equipped with machine gun fire and plenty of cops caught in the line of fire. Needless to say, both sides – the Italian mob who currently has a strong hold on the crime in Harlem – as well as both the upcoming African American police Lieutenant (played by Yaphet Kotto) and the decaying corrupt Captain (played by Anthony Quinn) – are ready to do whatever it takes to bring these men to justice. Our plot device suddenly becomes a ticking clock, with our minds in constant question as to who is going to get to the finish line first. What keeps this cliché device from sounding stale is director Barry Shear's ability to take us through each of the three story lines with nobody eating from the sweet cake of victory at any given time. "Across 110th Street" is not a comfortable story. The characters are flawed, the imagery is sandpaper rough, and the language is honest. Shear has made this film during a time where corruption is used to represent the mindset of the community. Harlem is not shown in a productive light, but then neither is the police nor the mob. What makes "Across 110th Street" feel like a science experiment is that you see the decay of the community implode systematically. From the simple thugs who begin the robbery, to the Italian mob who is just as brutal but with better suits, all the way to the police who use the same tactics, but are protected (supposedly) by a badge, this film explores the explosion of corruption in a bold new way that eliminates cliché, yet builds on honesty.

Shear's ability to build the story into the camera's frame is only the stepping stone of this film. The unrelenting ending could only have occurred with the power of the actors in front of the camera. Their work is simple, at times one could even call it amateurish, but Quinn and Kotto do a phenomenal job of keeping the story, and their characters, grounded at all times. Their beats could have been tightened, but their flaws build upon the chaos of this story. Their facial expressions alone are worth their weight in gold, especially Quinn's ending glare. As Quinn and Kotto were our leads for this film, what stands out is how similar they are to their flawed mobsters and criminals. With our lead mobsters racism coupled with our medial issues of our criminals, we see a blend between them all. While they are all different characters, Shear brings them all together with small similarities. For someone jumping into the middle of this film, one would have trouble guessing who were the "real" bad guys, the guys with the guns or the guys with the badges. That is the next layer of "Across 110th Street" that could be used in any film studies class across the nation. Not just the visuals of a time filled with racial disgust, but also the fact that the racial divide wasn't in just black and white. Harlem owns the police, yet they are there to uphold the law – while perhaps not exactly like that in Harlem today – one can see this happening throughout the world in modern society.

Finally, one cannot end a review of "Across 110th Street" without mentioning the music – which was icing on the hypothetical cake. To me, the sounds captured the era, the chaos of the music coupled well with the violence happening on screen. The two blended perfectly together, giving us not just a taste of an explosive Harlem, but also the sounds that may have accompanied it. As a child of the 80s, I never was witness to this – so to see it (albeit in a form of fiction) only helped to heighten the awareness of this era in NYC.

Overall, "Across 110th Street" was a violent, loud, and turbulent film that was laced with clichés that were forgotten by the next scene. One could easily watch this film on late-night television and never quite see the power behind Shear's camera, or Quinn's acting ability (that final scene still haunts me), or the challenging music that accompanied our visuals, but watching it on a bright and sunny Saturday, the excellence of this film comes full force. The acting was at a perfect pitch for this film, the corruption that Shear demonstrates from across three spectrums adds a level of honesty to a film that could have easily been lost by another director. "Across 110th Street" reminded me of early Scorsese work, the raw grittiness of the city, a city that Shear loved (he filmed in Harlem), coupled with the powerful imagery took me to "Mean Streets" and "Goodfellas", but not "The Departed". This is a cannon of a film, one that should be watched and retained for the sheer honesty of the work, while it is fiction it holds a bit of truth to the turbulence of the world.

Grade: ***** out of *****
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A gritty street-smart thriller shot on authentic Harlem locations
altmanfan18 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
110th Street in New York City is the dividing line between Central Park and Harlem. In the film Across 110th Street that line becomes apparent. The film opens with two white men arriving at a brownstone in Harlem. We learn that they are mob bag men sent to collect the week's gambling receipts from two black associates. Amidst their money counting there is a knock on the door—two black men dressed in NYPD uniforms barge their way in,gun down the four men in the room and take the $300,000 they were counting. They then shoot their way past two real policemen with the help of their getaway driver. This opening scene sets the tone of the film and it is a grim tone at that. After the robbery-murders, the scene shifts to an apartment in Central Park where the mob boss informs his son-in-law and glorified errand-boy Nick D'Salvo (Anthony Franciosa) that he is in charge of exacting revenge against the men who ripped them off. Naturally,the mob is not the only organization interested in finding the killers. With two cops dead, the NYPD are keen on finding them as well. Captain Frank Matelli (Anthony Quinn) a veteran detective well-known in Harlem, is assigned to the case. He finds out in short order that in spite of his high rank, he is ordered to report to Lieutenant Pope (Yaphet Kotto) because of the racial politics involved. Matelli, who is a racist and not above roughing up a suspect, chafes at the order, but abides it. Pope tolerates Matelli because of Matelli's informers and friends on the force who can help solve the case. As the film plays out D'Salvo and Doc Johnson the black crime boss who runs Harlem for D'Salvo's father-in-law hunt down the three men responsible for the theft and murders. At the same time, Pope and Matelli are looking for the same three men and trying to get to them before D'Salvo does. Director Barry Shear makes the most of the authentic Harlem locations in which this film is shot. It is very interesting to look back on what Harlem looked like in 1972. Most of it was not very pretty or charming. Anthony Quinn (who was one of the executive producers) brings a certain gravitas to his role as the bitter, veteran police captain. Quinn was always a very expressive and naturalistic actor and he does not disappoint in this role. Yaphet Kotto also delivers an outstanding performance in his role as the progressive Lieutenant Pope. The scenes where he and Quinn lock horns are emotionally charged and quite good. Franciosa comes close to going over the top as the vengeful Nick D'Salvo but he never quite gets there. The film features a supporting cast of faces familiar to fans of the blaxploitation genre–although this is not a blaxploitation film. Blaxploitation films such as Black Caesar, Shaft or Sweet Sweetback's Badass Song feature black protagonists who get to "stick it to the man" and be the hero. In Across 110th Street there are no heroes. No one is the "good guy". This is a violent and relentless film. But it is realistic, very well made and worth watching for fans of the crime genre.
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Great gangster depiction from the early 70's
Bogey Man25 July 2002
Barry Shear directed and Luther Davis wrote (after a novel by Wally Ferrsi) Across 110th Street in 1972 and the film stars Anthony Quinn as Mattelli and Yaphet Kotto as Pope. Pope and Mattelli are two police detectives, Mattelli white and Pope black, who investigate a bloody machine gun murder that took place in Harlem, in a location in which there rarely are any white people doing something else than business. Somebody stole big amount of Italian mafia's money and it all ended up in the bloody shoot out, and only the thieves got away alive. The two lead characters try to solve this thing before it is too late, since the mafia is willing to use violent ways in order to get its money back..This is a premise for this classic film.

I really love the atmosphere in this film since it is something that totally lacks in most of today's films. The setting in Harlem is very ugly, dirty and gritty and therefore true to life. This film doesn't hide anything, it shows the true faces of life in this big city and all the diseases from prostitution to murder that live inside it. This film is pretty close to Don Siegel's masterpiece, Dirty Harry (1971) which also showed very gritty urban setting without any bit of humor or something to ease the realistic and merciless atmosphere. The photography is also very great and technically there are no worth mentioning flaws in this film. The action scenes are exciting - albeit not too plenty - and everything in this film is as powerful and effective as the director and screenwriter intended to.

The most tragic character is Quinn's Mattelli, who is 55 and not so willing to continue his life in police and with all this scum. Kotto's character is younger and still willing to keep on, but at the end of the movie, he may have another thoughts about his life, too. The end scene is very powerful and memorable mostly because it is so tragic and sad and also intelligent and thought-provoking. The whole last 10 minutes is very remarkable as the tension is in top and no one knows how this will end and, more importantly, who will be alive at the end. Bullets when fired do their jobs and never leave anyone alive in this violent and greedy world.

The performances are totally wonderful, and I personally like Quinn the most in this difficult film. He acts very convincingly and has some hard scenes and segments, which show his abilities as an actor. The violence despite being brutal in mental way, is very strong physically, too, as the mafia tortures people without remorse in order to reach its target, but also they should have finished before it became too late. Violence and crime never pays, and this is again one movie to depict and tell about it. This film may not be too "graphically violent" by today's video game and R rating standards, but compared to most of today's films, violence is far stronger and emotionally challenging in this honest film, which never glamorizes its brutality with stupid one liners and humor efforts. This is among the most realistic crime films I've ever seen. The moneybag at the end leaves some hope for tomorrow, even though the hope is for most of the protagonists themselves too late.

Across 110th Street has some pretty non-believable scenes and segments, which are not explained too carefully and seem little unconvincing, but they are very few and are easy to forgive after all the merits and positive things this film gives. This film is as classic as Dirty Harry and I give this 9/10 rating and recommend it very highly for lovers of gritty gangster and crime films, which never have any stupid efforts to amuse and entertain the audience with humor or other popcorn methods.
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An excellent crime drama.
Hey_Sweden7 November 2013
While not truly "blaxploitation", the integrated cast is of major interest in this story (based on a novel by Wally Ferris) strongly and memorably depicting racial differences. Two detectives, a veteran Italian-American named Mattelli (Anthony Quinn) and an up and coming black, Lt. Pope (Yaphet Kotto), are forced to work together while investigating the case of three black men (two of them disguised as cops) who ripped off money from a Mafia controlled bank. Now it's up to Mattelli and Pope to find the three men before the Mafia is able to get their revenge.

There's some wonderful acting in this tough and gritty film, given straightforward treatment by director Barry Shear and featuring plenty of authentic Harlem locations. It's got quite a lot of hard hitting violence, and may be uncomfortable to watch at times for some viewers. The music by J.J. Johnson is superb and there are also great songs by Bobby Womack on the soundtrack. There's one ingenious cut a little past the 77 minute mark. The pacing is quite effective and the storytelling always interesting and compelling.

Quinn is solid as the old school, bigoted veteran and Kotto is his match as the more disciplined, efficient younger man. Anthony Franciosa is fun in a key supporting role as a mob henchman, and the cast is peppered with many familiar faces. Delivering standout performances are the raspy voiced Richard Ward as gangster Doc Johnson and Paul Benjamin as determined career criminal Jim Harris. Viewers will enjoy themselves spotting actors and actresses such as George DiCenzo, Antonio Fargas, Paul Harris, Gloria Hendry, Gilbert Lewis, Charles McGregor, Robert Sacchi, Marlene Warfield, Mel Winkler, and Burt Young.

Overall this is potent entertainment and deserves its place among the great NYC-based films of the 1970s.

Quinn and Shear were the executive producers.

Eight out of 10.
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Betraying The Mafia
claudio_carvalho11 October 2018
In Harlem, two Italian mobsters meet three black gangsters that work to the kingpin Doc Johnson (Richard Ward) to collect dirty money from their associates in an apartment building. Out of the blue, the smalltime thieves Jim Harris (Paul Benjamin) and Joe Logart (Ed Bernard) knock on the door disguised as police officers to steal US$ 300,000.00 from the Mafia. However, they startle when the suitcase with the money falls on the floor and Jim kills the five men with a machine gun. They flee to the runaway car driven by Henry J. Jackson (Antonio Fargas) and they kill two policemen. The idealist NYPD Lt. Pope (Yaphet Kotto) and the violent Capt. Mattelli (Anthony Quinn) investigate the case while the Italian Mafia and the black gangsters hunt the killers down. Will Jim Harris and his accomplices be found?

"Across 110th Street" is a great action-crime-Blaxploitation film from the 70´s. The realistic plot would be politically incorrect in the present days but reflects life in those years. The performances and the art direction are magnificent, with tacky, dirty and ugly locations and costumes. My vote is seven. Title (Brazil): "A Máfia Nunca Perdoa" ("The Mafia Never Forgives")
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Blood, Bullets & Brutality
seymourblack-117 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"Across 110th Street" is a powerful crime drama that's action-packed, fast-moving and very violent. Its numerous conflicts, rampant racism and volatile characters generate an incredible amount of tension and the quantities of blood, bullets and brutality featured are absolutely extraordinary. What distinguishes this movie from so many other similar ones, is its tremendously well-drawn characters. They provide a fascinating focus for everything that happens and also provide insights into their motivations. This makes them seem really authentic and through them, the ways in which poverty and desperation can lead to criminality is illustrated in a style that makes its point strongly without ever becoming too heavy-handed.

During a meeting at a Harlem apartment during which a couple of Mafia gangsters and their local associates are counting out their week's takings, two men dressed in police uniforms steal the cash amounting to $300,000 and kill all five men before making their clumsy getaway during which they also kill a couple of police officers. The Mafia boss is determined not to lose his operations in Harlem and so appoints his son-in-law, Nick D'Salvio (Anthony Franciosa) to hunt down the gang who carried out the heist and retrieve the money they've stolen. D'Salvio is also aware of how important it is that these men need to be punished in a way that will deter others from doing the same thing in the future.

NYPD Captain Frank Mattelli (Anthony Quinn) assumes that he'll be assigned to the case but is soon informed that he is to work with Lieutenant William Pope (Yaphet Kotto) who has been put in charge of the investigation. Mattelli, a white, racist Italian-American who's nearing retirement is incensed by this decision but is left with no choice in the matter. Pope is significantly younger, well-educated and black. He operates "by the book" and is disgusted by Mattelli's methods which mostly involve beating his suspects senseless in order to try to illicit information from them.

Nick D'Salvio conscripts the help of some Harlem hoods led by Doc Johnson (Richard Ward) and together, they work determinedly to pursue the men who stole their cash so that they can reach them before the police do. A number of surprise developments and the continuing friction between everyone involved then cause a number of further problems before each of the thieves is eventually identified and hunted down.

The three incompetent thieves who stole the Mafia money did so because they were so desperate to escape the poverty and squalor that characterised their daily lives and despite being fully aware of the dangers involved couldn't see any other means of escape. Their leader, Jim Harris (Paul Benjamin) recognised that as an uneducated 42-year-old black ex-con with epilepsy, his job prospects were minimal and the heist was his only chance of a better future. The fear and desperation that Harris and Joe Logart (Ed Bernard) experience is powerfully expressed in Benjamin and Bernard's marvellous performances and Antonio Fargas is also brilliant as their larger-than-life getaway driver.

Anthony Franciosa is terrific as the sadistic D'Salvio who's a nervy man with a point to prove to his superiors and Yaphet Kotto and Anthony Quinn also impress as the mismatched detectives. The use of hand-held cameras and location shots contribute strongly to the very realistic feel of this movie and the musical contributions by Bobby Womack and J J Johnson are the icing on the cake.
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A still undiscovered classic
rufasff26 May 2002
This movie sweats. Early on in the mostly pandering "blacksplotation" film cycle of the seventies, came this incredibly violent, hate filled drama of three small time crooks who stumble on a big score and their hopeless attempt to survive it. The film is utterly dark and features nary a cheap shot or moment of easy cynicism.

In one scene Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto go to the apartment of one of the crooks lovers, already slain, to look for information and break the news. This is one of the most heartbreaking scenes ever put on film, a model of restraint and economy in a film that is busting at the seams. Actors who were probably barely in another movie give magnificent performances. The neglected Kotto was never better.

A very disturbing film that demands to be seen; art.
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Whether or not you call it blaxploitation this is one of the toughest and most powerful crime movies of the early 1970s.
Infofreak25 October 2003
Whether you regard 'Across 110th Street' as a genuine blaxploitation movie or not (I don't) there's no denying it's one of the toughest and most powerful crime movies of the early 1970s, easily as good as the better known 'Serpico' or 'Dirty Harry'. Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto both give excellent performances as the NYC cops who have different approaches to trying to bring to justice some petty crooks who have ripped off the Mob. I was also impressed by Tony Franciosa who I knew from his later work in Argento's 'Tenebre'. I love that movie but always thought Franciosa was its weak point. In this movie he is one of the strengths. Paul Benjamin is also very good as one of the thieves. In fact, this movie is full of great acting, a tough and realistic script, taut direction from Barry Shear (who also made the 60s exploitation classic 'Wild In The Streets'), and a wonderful theme song from Bobby Womack, later recycled by Quentin Tarantino for 'Jackie Brown'. Highly recommended.
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A tough, gritty crime story
NewEnglandPat8 March 2003
This top urban thriller was perhaps the best of the films made during the blaxploitation era. The story is grim, bleak and violent and the grit and grime of Harlem is present in every scene. The theme throughout is black vs. white with no subtle shades of gray. Three black men steal money from the Mafia, with predictable results that follow in short order. Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto are police officers with quite different agendas and their relationship is one of mutual dislike. Anthony Franciosa is over-the-top as the Mafia lieutenant and Richard Ward is a gravel-voiced Harlem crime boss who stands up to the Mafia with a brash defiance. Bobby Womack's vocals accompany the film.
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Sorely neglected classic!
Criminally underrated 70's crime pic.....fully equal to Dirty Harry & The French Connection, but virtually unheard of at least here in the UK- I IMPLORE fans of hardboiled urban thrillers to check this out, you won't be disappointed! 3 black hoods rob $300,000 from the mafia, killing 2 cops and some mobsters in the process. The mob send in Nick D'salvio, a paranoid sadist married to the bosses daughter & desperate to prove himself worthy to his formidable father in law. The two senior policemen on the case are like chalk and cheese- Capt. Martelli is 55 & a corrupt, hardened, cynical veteran of the streets whose time is clearly drawing to a close. Wheras Lt. Pope is a young black detective- ambitious but fundamentally honest & by the book, and therefore appalled by Martelli's violent and sometimes illegal methods. What raises this film above the norm isn't the rather generic plot. The performances are uniformly excellent- but it's really the writing and directing that elevate this film to greatness.....Martelli and Pope (played by Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto respectively) don't become "buddies" like Riggs and Mortaugh in Lethal Weapon, the simmering tension & mistrust between them remains- as it would in real life. The 3 robbers, whilst never glamourised (only one is shown as having any kind of real conscience, and their leader is dangerously & unpredictably violent), are far from cardboard cut out bad guys- they're all three dimensional characters, a realistic mix of good and bad, with understandable motives. The psychopathic D'Salvio on the other hand is a truly nasty piece of work with no redeeming features, but even he is intriguingly multi-layerd- particularly in his dealings with the positively Machiavellian boss of the Harlem crime syndicate Doc Johnson, in his own way the most ruthless and streetwise character in the movie.....On paper D'Salvio is the senior mobster, and so should have the upper hand, but Johnson expertly plays on his insecurities to gain the upper hand in a masterfully played scene. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the film is how well it has aged- made over 40 years ago it still holds up well today. Also the level of violence is very strong, even when compared to the many other tough thrillers of the time, but it's never gratuitous- like The French Connection, this is a film about the seamy side of life in New York's ghetto, and director Barry Shear captures the mood and texture of grim n gritty 70's Harlem in a way few have managed. A must see for those who like their thrillers edgy, realistic and uncompromising!
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One of the greatest crime films ever
PeteStud3 April 2004
The real crime involved in this movie is the bare bones dvd release.Though the print is great this movie really deserves a revival and a special edition....its begging to be re-discovered!!! This film would have to be one of the greatest crime flicks ever. No one dimensional characters here...all of them struggle with good and bad inside themselves and the motivations are clear. Totally unpredictable and full of incredible exciting scenes with great thoughtful dialogue. Not a typical black cop/ white cop movie this breaks rules and has scenes Ive never seen before... you cant do better than this flick.great theme song too which was re-done and updated again by the original composer Bobby Womack for Jackie Brown.check it out!You wont be dissapointed....
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Richard Ward and Paul Benjamin steal this one
KingCoody17 October 2003
Richard Ward as the proud Harlem gangleader and Paul Benjamin as Jim Harris the steel of a trio of smalltime thieves who get in over their heads are the stars of this movie which has gotten lumped into the blaxploitation category. Though Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto are the stars along with Tony Franciosa as a middling hood given his last chance to become somebody of respect in the New York Mob get top billing its the above mentioned actors who carry this excellent crime drama which is a far bloodier and grimmer version of The Killing. Doc Johnson isn't anybody's flunky and Jim Harris would slaughter all the cops on Law and Order and NYPD Blue combined plus pistol whip the CSI crew too. Top rate.
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Central Park North
jotix10029 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
110th Street between 5th Avenue and Central Park West marks the Northern limit of one of the most beautiful parks in any urban setting. To the North of the park begins a vast area better known as Harlem. Of course, the Harlem of today, with its gentrified parts, is a completely different area than it was in the 1970s when drugs were more prevalent and conditions were worse than today.

This story takes us to that era where two Italian mafia men come to get the money from the drug trade. Unknown to them, three black residents of Harlem have prepared a stick up to rob the proceeds from the sale of dope to the mostly black users. One of the two would be robbers, with a machine gun eliminates the two Italians and some of their local dealers. The get away involves killing a police officer on the street.

A local Harlem police, Lieutenant Pope takes charge in the investigation. The appearance of Capt. Mattelli challenges Pope about his authority. Mattelli, a dirty cop, has a lot at stake. He is being paid handsomely to look the other way by Doc Johnson, who controls a lot of the criminal element working for him.

The police get lucky when they find one of the trio who has gone into a bar flaunting his newly found money. He leads them into not only the attention of the police, but to Nick D'Salvio, the son-in-law of the mafia boss. D'Salvio wants to get to the guys that stole the money, at whatever cost. He is a man without scruples who will stop at nothing.

The two remaining robbers are a product of the poverty of the area. Out of desperation they had committed the crime, figuring they were taking the money from bandits that were enslaving the locals with the drugs they were pushing. Eventually, all the men meet their death either from D'Salvio, or the police.

One of the best examples of the blaxploitation genre, the film had values in the way director Barry Shear opened up the film by taking the action into the streets of Harlem with the dilapidated tenements, poverty, filth, and desperation. The result is a film that is exciting to watch today to get a real feeling what those mean streets looked like during a period when lawlessness reigned freely. It also serves as a social commentary about how the whites, in the case of Mattelli and the Italian mafiosi used the black population to push their deathly drugs to people that could ill afford them.

Anthony Quinn does a credible job as Mattelli. Anthony Franciosa was at his best portraying the sadist D'Salvio. Yaphet Kotto appears as Lt. Pope. There are some excellent acting from some of the supporting players like Richard Ward, Paul Benjamin, Ed Bernard and Antonio Fargas, just to name a few.

Jack Priestley took his cameras to a part of Manhattan most people never venture into, capturing in great detail the flavor of the area.
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A Brutal, Unsavory Blackploitation Thriller That Never Lets Up!
zardoz-134 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"Wild in the Streets" director Barry Shear's pulsating blaxploitation thriller "Across 110th Street" is a gritty, realistic crime caper about three trigger-happy African-Americans that heist $300-thousand of illicit drug money from the Mafia during a secret meeting in Harlem. Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto play the two high-ranking N.Y.P.D. officers that scramble to nab the trio before Mafia kingpin Anthony Franciosa can lay his hands on them with help of local black hoodlums. Apparently, it looks like Shear shot about 90 per cent of this white-knuckled actioneer on location in the ghettos of Harlem. None of the settings look like they were constructed on a sound stage. When people are wounded in "Across 110th Street," they bleed bright red blood and the body count is reasonably high for this 1972 movie. The single drawback to this no-nonsense, high-octane, shoot'em up is the shortage of sympathetic characters. Essentially, there is nobody to identify with in Luther Davis's screenplay and nobody emerges as a role model. Quinn gives a gruff performance as a thirty year veteran police captain who would rather beat a confession out of a suspect than coddle him. Kotto strives to stick with the rule book. Actually, Kotto's Lieutenant Pope qualifies as the most likable character. Conversely, Anthony Franciosa steals the movie as the son of a Mafia boss who has to prove his mettle and does he ever. He castrates one of the thieves and dangles another off the side of a high-rise under construction.

The action gets off to a violent start as a group of black and white buttoned down African-Americans and Italians are counting greenbacks in a seedy apartment building. Two N.Y.P.D. cops hammer at the door and warn the occupants about a parking violation. When one of the black gangstas tries to bribe them, the two cops burst into the room. Jim Harris (Paul Benjamin of "Escape from Alcatraz") and Joe Logart (Ed Bernard of "Blue Thunder") masquerade as New York's finest. Harris wields a lightweight machine gun and covers the five mobsters while his partner stuffs wads of cash into a suitcase. Look closely and you see future "Rocky" co-star Burt Young as one of the Italians. One of the African-American hoods makes a play for his automatic pistol, and Harris mows down everybody in sight with his machine gun fire. They plunge down the stairs and scramble into an old checkered cab painted black. Getaway driver Henry J. Jackson (Antonio Fargas of "Cleopatra Jones") careens away from the tenement only to run into trucks that block his route and cops come sprinting out of nowhere. Harris wipes a black cop and a white cop with bursts of machine gun fire before the villains can extract themselves from their predicament.

The Italian Mafia isn't happy about this hold-up, and Nick D'Salvio (Anthony Franciosa of "Rio Conchos") is sent into Harlem to make an example of these three. Initially, Nick runs afoul of local Harlem kingpin Doc Johnson (Richard Ward of "Mandingo"), whose resemblance to legendary Harlem racketeer Bumpy Johnson is unmistakable. Later, the cops arrive in droves with Captain Frank Mattelli (Anthony Quinn of "The Guns of Navarone") heading up the investigation until another officer (Tim O'Conner) pulls him aside and points out that a younger guy, Lieutenant Pope (Yaphet Kotto of "Live and Let Die") has been assigned to the case for political reasons because he is black and the crime occurred in Harlem. A thirty-year veteran who conducts an investigation his own way, Mattelli rubs Pope the wrong way, but he knows the ropes better and gets results that Pope cannot because he doesn't have as well oiled a machine. As it turns out, Mattelli is on the take and likes to take a snort when things get tough. Comparably, Pope doesn't drink and he is honest. Meanwhile, D'Salvio makes more headway than either Mattelli or Pope. He catches Henry J. having the time of his life at a local brothel and tortures the hopped up thug, eventually castrating him. When they learn about Henry J.'s unfortunate fate, both Logart and Harris decide it is time to head off for greener pastures. D'Salvio catches up with Logart and throws him off a building. The more sympathetic of the thieves, Harris, appears to be home free but he forgets to take his medication with him and the mob tracks him down.

Director Barry Shear pulls no punches. "Across 110th Street" is all about paying the consequences for your actions and everybody—but Lt. Pope—has to pay the price before this riveting law & order opus is over. As well-made but unsavory as "Across 110th Street" is, the film didn't do much for Shear's career. He spent most of his life shooting name dropping television series, but "Across 110th Street" holds up for the most part and squeamish spectators should stay away from this bloodbath.
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Gritty Violent Thriller That Deserves To Be Better Known
Theo Robertson21 December 2014
I caught this on BBC 1 one night many years ago . I forgot the title but could vividly remember a number of scenes especially a line of dialogue where two characters describe a third one having his genitals mutilated . This type of movie would be broadcast on television 30 years ago and no one would blink an eyelid but at the same time you can understand why it wouldn't be shown on network TV today . It as also a sign of the times back then that the TV broadcast had the F word overdubbed to something less offensive but the racial slurs against both black and whites remained intact . Perhaps the fact this film is consciously insensitive and hard hitting works against it ? This is a pity because it's not some " Blaxploitation " fare but more of a New Hollywood thriller at its best

The story itself is no great shakes - a couple of black dudes rip off and kill a few members of the Mafia and the black underworld and also kill a couple of uniformed cops in the process and find if not the entire world against them then at least the law enforcers and law breakers of NYC wanting to cap their ass . It's the sort of film Tarantino has been inspired by but unlike Tarantino's work this movie is devoid of post modernism and crippling self indulgence and is a relatively tightly plotted screenplay where lots of nasty things happen to lots of nasty people . There's a subplot featuring character interaction between Anthony Quinn's nasty racist white cop and Yaphet Kotto's not very nasty by the books black cop that might have been clichéd but does seem fresh and realistic , probably down to the fact the performances and writing portraying a rather amoral relationship between the two men and the wider world . And this does feel like an exceptionally amoral film that we never see nowadays more is the pity
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A Parallel Hunt
bkoganbing13 June 2006
Paul Benjamin, Ed Bernard, and Antonio Fargas disguised as policemen raid a mob numbers bank and rip it off to the tune of $300,000.00. But the getaway is pretty bloody. Five gangsters and two real policemen wind up dead.

The film is a race against time because two parallel manhunts are at work for these perpetrators. The captain of the local police precinct Anthony Quinn is under pressure to bring in these cop killers. It's not clear whether Quinn's connection to the local black gangster crew who run the operation for the mafia is going to help or hinder his investigation.

In the meantime the local Don has sent his son-in-law Anthony Franciosa to head his own manhunt for the robbers. Of course they have sources that the cops don't have.

Of course the methods aren't too much different. Miranda warnings were a new thing at the time and Quinn is an old timer who really doesn't believe in them. The way Quinn and Franciosa interrogate doesn't leave too much room for difference, except that Quinn's subjects were still breathing after it was over.

This film probably has more bad people in it than any other that came along until Goodfellas came out. Yaphett Kotto as a cop sent from headquarters to monitor the situation is probably the only decent one among the principal players.

The best performances in the film are by Tony Franciosa who is never bad in anything and Richard Ward who may work for the Italian mob, but is by no means a lackey. He's determined to wind up a winner no matter what happens to Quinn and Franciosa.

It's a gritty look at the seamy side of law enforcement and its also gangsters without the Godfather glamor.
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Tough, noisy, incoherent police melodrama...
Nazi_Fighter_David11 January 2009
Disguised as cops, three black crooks steal a big amount of cash after killing five syndicate runners and two policemen… The New York police and the Mafia react with immediate concern…

Tough police veteran Captain Frank Mattelli (Quinn) resents the intrusion of Lieutenant Pope (Kotto), a black detective, in the case, while Mafia boss Don Gennaro (Frank Mascetta) sends his paranoid son-in-law, Nick D'Salvio (Anthony Franciosa), to reassert control over the Harlem branch and see that the money is recovered…

The black syndicate, headed by Doc Johnson (Richard Ward) and his assistant Shevvy (Gilbert Lewis), rejects D'Salvio, while promising only token help, and accuses Mattelli, who has been on the take from Johnson for years…

Anthony Quinn plays well the ageing detective who has long ago perceived that all his efforts are not going to do more than raise the very small part of the cover of crime, but he is not above taking a bribe from a racketeer… His method of dealing with a reluctant witness is to hit hard first and ask questions later…The rigorously legal approach to police work, as exemplified by Yaphet Kotto, is not for Quinn… This is his territory, his little kingdom, and he keeps the peace as best he knows
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One of the great American films of the 1970's
theskylabadventure3 January 2007
This incredible film was (mis)sold as a blaxploitation piece when it was released and, unfortunately, the label has stuck. (The US DVD is part of a black collection called "Soul Cinema").

Personally, I love blaxploitation movies for their brazen, unsubtle approach and mostly poor production values, but I can also understand why they do not interest a lot of people. Therein lies the tragedy of this great movie, as it bears very little resemblance to blaxploitation other than the fact that it has black people in it. It's pretty low budget, but it's a far cry from the clumsy and mindless tones of Bucktown, the gratuitous titillation of Coffy or the pounding social vengeance of Black Caesar. Even the better received titles like Shaft are unfair comparisons to this. This is no cheap thrill, this is very finely crafted and brilliantly acted piece of cinema.

Across 110th Street is really one third cop character piece, one third Mafia crime/revenge thriller, and one third (black) social drama. This could've been a very clumsy affair but is pulled off extraordinarily well by virtue of having a fantastic script, restrained (almost detached) direction and brilliant performances by a perfectly cast group of very talented actors. I won't single them out, I will simply say that this film boasts one of the best ensemble casts I have ever seen.

Not wanting to give too much away, the story involves three men from Harlem who steal $300,000 from the mob and spend the rest of the film evading both them and the police investigating the robbery. As if the engaging (if somewhat unoriginal by today's standards) story weren't enough, the real power of this movie is in its ability to evoke the bleak, grim and depressing world in which the story takes place. There is an anger and cynicism just beneath the surface of this movie which is held back so painfully that it will literally leave you numb for days. Every character here is ugly, hopeless, sad and resigned, save for the gangsters, but this is never overplayed. The angst never really gets out, and it stays with you long after the credits role.

In my opinion, post-classical Hollywood was American cinema's finest hour. There's a reason it's known as Hollywood's second golden age. What, for me, gives it the edge is that film-makers were suddenly not afraid to present the underbelly of American life - the other side of the American Dream - through real characters that were far from the ideal, wholesome heroes we were used to.

It's interesting that many of the comments here draw so much attention to the violence in this movie. While it is fairly strong, it's hardly abundant and it's never over the top or the least bit gratuitous. The best word to sum this film up, for me at least, is subtle. The subtlety and the almost indifferent way the film is presented allow it to really penetrate and get under the skin. There is a very precise and cynical sense of reality, which not only makes the film totally engrossing and believable but also makes it all the more moving as a consequence.
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Bloody cop show, dated in some aspects but still worthwhile for its damning view of gangland society.
barnabyrudge31 August 2005
The significance of 110th Street in New York is that it is the line where Central Park ends and Harlem begins. This ultra-violent '70s cop thriller wastes no time in painting the streets of Harlem as a hard, gritty, unforgiving pit where the law has little meaning and the only way to earn respect is by fear or money. While the years have slightly diminished the film's power to startle, there's still no denying that for its time this is indeed a strong, raw, bleak piece of cinema.

Three down-at-heel blacks - Jim Harris (Paul Benjamin), Joe Logart (Ed Bernard) and Henry J. Jackson (Antonio Fargas) - disguise themselves as cops and storm into a Mafia-controlled numbers bank where they proceed to steal $300,000. However, the heist turns violent and the three robbers end up killing everyone in the room, including a few Mob guys, several blacks, and even a couple of real cops who happen by. The Mob send in a small-time hood with big-time ambitions, the violent and trigger-happy Nick D'Salvio (Antony Franciosa), to find the three crooks. Meanwhile, Harlem gang lord Doc Johnson (Richard Ward) puts his own guys on the trail of the trio of robbers. Caught up in the hunt too are cops Frank Mattelli (Anthony Quinn) and Det-Lt. Pope (Yaphet Kotto), the former an aging hard-nut who uses violence and intimidation to get results, the latter a young and honest black officer who prefers diplomacy wherever possible.

Rarely has New York been portrayed as such a living hell, certainly for those living in poverty and squalor. Initially, the viewer is repulsed by the three robbers for what they've done, but quickly they are made to look positively sympathetic as the truly repulsive supporting characters are introduced - Franciosa, chillingly psychopathic; Ward, ruthless and manipulative; and Quinn, totally lost in corruption and aggression. Only Kotto's character shows any grain of decency and optimism in this ugly society. Viewed nowadays, the film has a slightly dated feel to it which lessens the relevance of some of the social comment being explored. Quinn and Kotto don't get enough time on-screen either, which is a shame as their volatile working-relationship isn't explored as much as it could be and the twist ending lacks impact because their characters haven't been sufficiently developed. However, Across 110th Street still deserves to be seen for its ground-breaking violence, its hard-boiled action, and its relentlessly damning views of New York's ethnic wasteland in the early '70s.
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'110th' still hard-hitting, still under-appreciated
paul_johnr25 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Remembered as one of the earliest television directors, Barry Shear made occasional visits to the motion picture industry and created a handful of serviceable films dating from 1968. Of this small group, the urban crime drama 'Across 110th Street' will probably remain his best-known, although it seems destined for eternal life in obscurity.

'Across 110th Street' was released on the advent of blaxploitation films and other urban Black dramas, making it cutting edge for its time. However, this nasty, unremitting tale of ghetto life has little of the veneer and stylization that have made other 1970s titles like 'Shaft' and 'Truck Turner' endure in the American conscience. 'Across 110th Street,' for all of its violence and anger, is understated and keeps glamor completely out of the loop.

Borrowing from a novel by Wally Ferris, 'Across 110th Street' is centered on three Harlem men who are desperate to escape their poor backgrounds: ex-convict and apartment super Jim Harris (Paul Benjamin), dry cleaner Joe Logart (Ed Bernard), and playboy Henry Jackson (Antonio Fargas). The three friends barge into a mafia cash count with Harris and Logart disguised as police officers and Jackson driving their getaway car. They speed off with $300,000, leaving behind seven dead men, including two cops.

Harris, Logart, and Jackson spend their time hiding from an investigation by older, White detective Mattelli (Anthony Quinn) and young, Black lieutenant Pope (Yaphet Kotto) while avoiding Black mobster Doc Johnson (Richard Ward) and Italian mafioso Nick D'Salvio (Anthony Franciosa), who are looking to recover their stake. The hunt for these three men becomes a race between two factions, the police and organized crime, with racial tensions being set off along the way.

Unlike better-known blaxploitation films that combine social problems with heroic acts, 'Across 110th Street' uses a completely naturalistic setting, where everyone from citizens to cops are looking merely to stay alive; mob men drive fear into innocent people, cops take kickbacks from drug and gambling rings, and those raised in poverty go to unthinkable extremes for a few extra dollars. The entire atmosphere of '110th' is grim, unsettling, and unremitting, with no one immune from the sickness of modern life.

Barry Shear's direction is strong, bringing out excellent performances by Quinn, Kotto, Benjamin, and the supporting cast. While Shear's style of direction is not very imaginative, he makes use of tight surroundings to create the hot, claustrophobic aura that 'Across 110th Street' needs. Most of the film is shot in confined locations, such as tenements, small businesses, and police precincts, which Shear uses to magnify the friction between each character.

The film (co-produced by Shear, Quinn, and three others) seems to have been made on a limited budget, as indicated by its below-average technical work. The photography by Jack Priestley is quite good, but there are off-moments involving out-of-sync dialogue and poor Foley effects. This in no way spoils the film's impact, but the overall quality is somewhat pulled down. The score by J.J. Johnson (with solos by Bobby Womack) does hold up nicely, always with a feel of menace.

Even with Black dramas from the 1970s being rediscovered, 'Across 110th Street' seems to lag considerably behind other titles. Quentin Tarentino's borrowing of the title song for use in 'Jackie Brown' has helped to give the film some new exposure, perhaps enough to bring a modern-day reevaluation. But for now, '110th' holds its place as a forgotten landmark of Black film-making, still entertaining a limited audience.

'Across 110th Street' has been given a (surprise!) mediocre release by MGM Home Video as part of its Soul Cinema collection. The film is presented in widescreen with Dolby enhancement of the original mono track; Spanish and French 'dubbing' are offered besides three-language subtitles. The film's print is in good condition with some visible artifacts and occasional grain. The audio is poorly balanced, however, with dialogue often muffled by adjacent noise. It seems that the film has been repaired to an extent, but MGM didn't go far enough to make 'Across 110th Street' the pristine film it could be. And once again, Dolby enhancement serves as a handicap, not an improvement, to pre-stereo films. The theatrical trailer, also in fair shape, is offered as an extra.

*** out of 4

Roving Reviewer -
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Excellent Blaxploitation Flik
tgtround21 November 2000
I came to Across 11th Street by a very strange route - I heard the title song by Bobby Womack on the soundtrack to Jackie Brown. When I looked up the film in Halliwell's Film Guide it came highly recommended as one of the finest examples of its genre. I wasn't disappointed.

If anything, political correctness and sensitivities to some extent reduce the ability of modern TV and film to examine racial attitudes - but this film meets them head on. It doesn't condone the criminals but it does try to explain their circumstances and it's study of racism within the NYPD is brutal in comparison with NYPD Blue.

The violence is truly brutal - as it should be.
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110th, not a bad seventies view
videorama-759-85939120 August 2015
Another film inspired by a song, the racier version I didn't so much like, when compared to the one played at the start of QT's Jackie Brown. As for the movie, I did like, where I've seen it now, four to five times. This is an interesting cop drama with an interesting though simple plot, the movie that falls on the verge of a blaxploitation one, a little saggy though in part. Quinn plays a near retiring detective, 55, worn and weary, where he's spent 60 percent of his life in his occupation. His unconventional methods of force, as he says "get's results". After a mob money rip off by three small time ex cons, where a couple of black cops get in the line of fire with some other casualties, being that of the mob boys, he's assigned with a black cop (Yaphet Kotto) who as he says, is "running the show". That he is to Quinn's dislike, where the two form a kind of partnership and mutual friendship. Now we know, stolen money is dead money, and if it's mafia involved, those three thugs lives are dwindling, their fate so foreseeable, the last of three, creating a memorable and honorable death, followed by a shock passing from Quinn's character. We too get into the three black guy's lives, and their conflict with their partners, over their fateful actions, which I liked. Anthony Franciosa (Finder Of Lost Loves, Tenebrae, really is the standout in this and if you push his buttons, the fun is watching in how he responds. Antonio Fargas, an actor I've always liked and enjoyed watching, with his ugly black mug, is fun to here, as he is in other pics, as one of the low life money stealing who meets a short demise. At the other end of this bar, it's always a privilege fine actor Quinn, and here he's top form, giving reality and believiability to this character, even though his unjust methods are kind of reprehensible. This oldie but goodie seventies movie, isn't the best of it's time, but still stacks up pretty well, due to it's story, with some heavy and impactful violence, and it's other asset, Franciosa.
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Hard-bitten Big Apple
NORDIC-230 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Adapted from Wally Ferris's 'Across 110th' (Harper & Row, 1970) by playwright-screenwriter Luther Davis ('Lady in a Cage'), 'Across 110th Street' is often lumped into the blaxploitation genre but is atypical in several respects. Created by white filmmakers, 'Across 110th Street' does not cater to black audiences by featuring the requisite black-urban-outlaw-superhero wreaking vengeance on the white power structure through acts of stylized mayhem. A cross-town street, 110th in Manhattan skirts the northern edge of Central Park and divides Harlem to the north from the upper East and West Sides, i.e., the then-mostly poor black and Hispanic ghetto from the mostly affluent white districts. More than a street, 110th is the city's dividing line between the haves from the have nots. Three black working-class Harlemites—Joe Logart (Ed Barnard), Jim Harris (Paul Benjamin), and Henry J. Jackson (Antonio Fargas)—figuratively cross the line when they rob a mafia counting house in Harlem of $300,000 and, in the process, kill seven people including two cops. The robbery and mass murder naturally trigger parallel pursuits by the NYPD and the mafia; the former determined to bring the trio to justice, the latter bent on exacting vengeance and recovering the stolen loot. Because the crimes took place in Harlem, Lt. Pope (Yaphet Kotto), a young, by-the-book black detective, is put in charge of the investigation, much to the chagrin of Capt. Mattelli (Anthony Quinn), a brutal, racist 55-year-old cop strictly "old school" in his methods and beliefs: the kind of match-up already made archetypal by Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger in 'In the Heat of the Night' (1967). On the mafia side, Nick D'Salvio (Anthony Franciosa), the grinning, psychopathic son-in-law of a mafia don, is assigned the task of catching the three killer-crooks. Further complicating the situation is the menacing power of Mr. Jessup (Joe Attles), a gruff black crime boss who maintains an uneasy alliance with the mafia and crooked cops (including Capt. Mattelli) over the rackets in Harlem. Across 110th Street fails to generate much suspense because the mafia easily bests the cops in getting to each of the fugitives first. On the upside, Barry Shears' direction is surefooted, the film is graced by an evocative soundtrack by Bobby Womack and J.J. Johnson, and features solid acting, relentless action, suitably grotesque violence, and an aura of gritty authenticity that could only be had by filming on location in New York City at one of the lowest points in its modern history. Blaxploitation fan Quentin Tarantino incorporated a version of Bobby Womack's title track, "Across 110th Street," into his third film, 'Jackie Brown' (1997). VHS (1998) and DVD (2001).
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This gritty flick was very good for its time
orangetrucker4 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw Across 110th St. many years ago and to this day it's one of my favorite crime flicks of the 70s, right up there with The Godfather, Serpico, and Dirty Harry. If you're gonna make a movie about the gritty, dangerous hardcore mafia underworld, you shouldn't sugar-coat it in any way. IMHO this is the best thing this movie has going for it: it's realism. There's no Hollywood-style heroism here, just human nature at its worst. Psychopathic Mafia hit-man, corrupt cop on the take, brutal violence, ruthless crime bosses, greedy crooks, all told without soft-core political correctness. Movies of this type really should show the mob society as it is, without coloration, that's how they make an impact on their audience. This one, I must say, does a pretty good job at that. Not perfect, mind you, I also thought Franciosa's character was a little over the top, but good. My rating: 10/10

Also if you don't like sadistic violence, don't see this one. See Law and Order
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