Saturday, January 12, 2013


Well, might as well spit out a few words about this one, while I'm on a roll.  I recently had occasion to drag out of shallow storage my homemade DVD of a jumpy VHS copy of Freebie and the Bean, complete with 70s Warner Communications logo and all.  I can't remember exactly when I first saw this, but it was after seeing It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Lethal Weapon 2 and 3.  (not on the same day, mind you.)  And somehow, Freebie added a link to the chain.  Great car stunts, and the cop-buddy pic.  There's also a rather direct link in the chain between Freebie and Lethal Weapon 3, mainly when it comes to a motorcycle diving off the edge of a road.
I watched a little bit of Freebie last night with my mom, and she wondered aloud if the whole movie was improvised.  I'm starting to wonder that myself.  Are there any script shops in Los Angeles anymore? (hint, hint)  For me, the movie's an explosive mix of elaborate, city-destroying stunts, and a snapshot into a cop's lifestyle that would even make Jim Kouf sit up and take notice.  James Caan seems believable to me as a cop... and Alan Arkin as well, even though he seems more Jewish than the Mexican he's supposed to be playing.  I know from the DVD commentary of The In-Laws that he didn't like working on Freebie, which I guess means it was an unforgettable experience.  If they filmed it in a city less prosperous than San Francisco, that city would have to declare bankruptcy and its citizens would have to move one state over.
I suppose I should mention Christoper Morley... there.  I did it.  Seriously, though, he does provide the Crying Game-ish twist at the end... damn.  Sorry, SPOILER ALERT.  But everyone knows Bachelor Party is the role he'll most be associated with.  And, why look!  They're BOTH in his top 4 on his IMDb page!
Hard to say what my favourite sequence is.  I didn't have to study the part with the big drunk hick again, but it's well-photographed by Laszlo Kovacs, veteran DP of such films as Ghostbusters 1 and Miss Congeniality?  Sheesh!  The point is, it's in his blood.  Wonder if he's related to Ernest Laszlo?
According to Wikipedia, Stanley Kubrick called Freebie "the best film of 1974."  High praise, indeed, considering it was the year of Godfather, Part II.  Well, when you think about it, that was just a sequel.  The point is, we're in the HD age now.  We've put a man on the moon, and we've put a crystal-clear HD version of Death Wish II on cable.  Isn't Freebie and the Bean due for an overhaul?  I think so.  Bollocks to the 2009 DVD re-release... unless someone wants to send me a free copy?  Just saying.
One last thought.  This is of course probably director Richard Rush's masterpiece, though some say it's The Stunt Man which came next after this one.  I can see why he'd take an interest in stunt men after Freebie.  As for all the critics who say it's just a dumb chase movie, well, I humbly beg to differ.  I say it's a deeply religious tome.  For example, have you noticed how often the people in the movie say "Jesus Christ!"?

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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