Combustible Celluloid
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With: Burt Reynolds, Catherine Deneuve, Paul Winfield, Eddie Albert, Ben Johnson, Eileen Brennan, Ernest Borgnine, Catherine Bach, Robert Englund
Written by: Steven Shagan
Directed by: Robert Aldrich
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 119
Date: 12/25/1975

Hustle (1975)

3 Stars (out of 4)

All the Wrong Angles

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After pleasing audiences with The Longest Yard, director Robert Aldrich made one for himself. Considered an auteur in France, Aldrich used his clout to make this European-edged film, a grim, yet fascinatingly sleazy look at corruption in the justice system, and even cast Catherine Deneuve in the bargain. The gamble did not pay off; everyone hatedHustle and it failed. Thirty years on, however, its integrity and patience look positively masterful.

Burt Reynolds turns in another great performance as Lt. Phil Gaines, a hardened cop who sleeps regularly witha high-priced hooker (Deneuve). When a dead girl washes up on the beach, the police treat the case with a cavalier disregard because the girl's father is a "nobody." But when the father, a Korean War veteran (Ben Johnson), begins taking things into his own hands, Gaines and his partner (Paul Winfield) begin to dig deeper. The film has an angry, nihilistic edge hidden among its static, darkened cinematography, and even Reynolds' relationship with Deneuve can seem strained -- as if nothing beautiful could possibly exist in this world.

Eddie Albert, also in The Longest Yard, returns as a powerful, sleazy lawyer. Ernest Borgnine and Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke on TV's The Dukes of Hazzard) co-star. Robert Englund, several years before he became Freddy Krueger, appears briefly as a hold-up man. Paramount's DVD release comes in a clean, new, letterboxed transfer with optional English subtitles and no other extras.

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