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Seven-Ups, The

    Ian Jane

  • Seven-Ups, The

    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: March 27th, 2018.
    Director: Philip D'Antoni
    Cast: Roy Scheider, Tony Lo Bianco, Victor Arnold, Richard Lynch, Joe Spinell, Ken Kercheval
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    The titular Seven-Ups are a 'secret' division of the NYPD led by Buddy (Roy Scheider) and comprised of Barilli (Victor Arnold), Mingo (Jerry Leon) and Ansel (Ken Kercheval). These guys are undercover cops that tend to bend the law to enforce the law. Their movies may be questionable, but they get results - and as their name implies, they go after crooks whose deed are going to land them at least seven years in the slammer for their actions. They answer to Inspector Gilson (Rex Everhart), a stereotypically surly commanding officer who doesn't necessarily want to know what they do to catch the crooks they catch.

    One of the main ways that they're able to get an edge of the mobsters and criminals running rampant across New York City is to lean heavily on informants. Case in point? Buddy's reliance on Vito Lucia (Tony Lo Bianco), a man that he grew up with and who still knows what's going on in the 'old neighborhood.' Vito is basically a snitch and when Buddy starts looking into a case where mob-affiliated loan sharks are being kidnapped for a hundred grand a head, he wants Tony to give him all the info on this case that he can. It turns out that the guys doing this are acting as cops bringing the hoods in for questioning before then suckering them - and the mob thinks it's the actual cops that are up to this. When one of their own is killed in the line of duty by a hood named Moon (Richard Lynch), Buddy realizes that the kid gloves have to come off and he and the rest of his team set out to put a stop to this, consequences be damned.

    A movie that will always live in the shadow of The French Connection thanks in no small part to the fact that it shares a producer, a composer, a stunt coordinator and a cast member or two - not to mention both films feature an intense car chase sequence and were shot on location in New York City - The Seven-Ups is a solid crime thriller. It's pretty gritty, making the most out of the locales where it plays out (most of the movie looks to have been shot in the Bronx) and using the city perfectly as a backdrop for a story of betrayal and double crossings, a place of unpredictability and danger. Those with an affection for the type of natural grit that seventies New York can bring to a picture should find much to appreciate about this film on a visual level. And that car chase? It's pretty intense, maybe not quite as good as Bullitt or The French Connection but damn close.

    The pacing is a bit quirky at times, the movie really doesn't hit its stride until about two thirds of the way through where the action definitely picks up as does the intensity. Before that, Philip D'Antoni - in his only turn as a director - relies on his talented cast to carry the picture. Thankfully, it works. Scheider is great as the lead, he's tough and smart, bit likeable and human enough that he never seems unrealistic. He and Tony Lo Bianco both get quite a bit of screen time here and share an interesting chemistry together. Supporting work from Arnold, Leon and Kercheval is fine, though their characters are never really fully developed the way they could have been, they're basically Buddy's soldiers. Richard Lynch is great as the main heavy in the picture, however. He never chews the scenery or overdoes it but he plays the role well and with a lot of manic energy. Throwing in a small but appreciated appearance from none other than the great Joe Spinell as another sleazy character and an appearance from the film's stunt coordinator Bill Hickman in another small part doesn't hurt things either.


    Twilight Time brings The Seven-Ups to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on a 50GB disc framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Generally speaking, the film looks really good here. Detail is impressive, colors are reproduced very nicely and the film's grain structure looks nice and natural. There's very little print damage, just the occasional small white speck now and then that you won't likely notice if you're not looking for such things, while skin tones look lifelike and natural. Contrast is a bit iffy in spots, but we get nice depth while the image remains free of obvious compression artifacts, noise reduction and edge enhancement issues.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track sounds fine. Optional English subtitles are provided. There are no problems here, dialogue stays up front in the mix and is always easy to follow while the score and the sound effects are mixed nicely, no issues with the levels. There is a tiny bit of hiss in a scene or two but outside of that the track is clean and the movie sounds just fine.

    Extras, which appear to mirror those found on the UK Blu-ray release Signal One Entertainment, start off with an audio commentary featuring Film Historian Richard Harland Smith. As is typical of his commentary tracks, this is informative, interesting and quite listenable. He provides plenty of information on the backgrounds of the cast and crew, discusses the New York of the era in which the film was made, talks quite a bit about the locations that were used and also offers up a lot of details on the stunts, the action set pieces and the editing choices that we see in the picture. This is worth listening to if you want to know more about the film.

    From there we move on to a series of featurettes, the first of which is The Seven-Ups Connection which runs twenty-two minutes. Here producer/director Philip D'Antoni discusses how he got into the movie business, working with Friedkin on The French Connection and then, of course, collaborating with some of the contacts he made on that picture on The Seven-Ups. He also talks about working with the different cast and crew members assembled for the shoot, the script, the music, the locations and of course that amazing chase scene. In A Tony Lo Bianco Type the man himself spends just over twenty-minutes in front of the camera talking about how he landed the part in this film, how his character here compares to the similar character he played in The French Connection, how he got along with the other cast members and his thoughts on the film overall. Real To Reel is a twenty-five-minute interview with the film's technical advisor Randy Jurgensen, who also worked on The French Connection. He speaks about that picture as well as what he brought to The Seven-Ups, his life as an NYPD officer and his working relationship with D'Antoni. In the fourteen-minute Cut To The Chase we get input from D'Antoni, Jurgensen and Lo Bianco share memories from the shoot regarding what went into the iconic chase scene that stands out as one of the highlights of the film. This is also covered in Anatomy Of A Chase: Behind The Scenes Of The Filming of The Seven-Ups, a nine-minute archival making of featurette show while the film was in production in 1973. There's some input from the key cast and crew members here as well as some behind the scenes footage.

    Twilight Time also includes Randy Jurgensen's Scrapbook, which is a three-minute slideshow of images shot on set narrated by Jurgensen, and a seventeen-minute Super 8 Version of the feature which is clearly chopped down a lot from the feature length version but very interesting to see as a curio.

    Twilight Time has also provided an isolated score track featuring Don Ellis's score and a second isolated score option that showcases the unused Johnny Mandel Score, which is quite interesting to hear. Outside of that we get a still gallery of lobby cards and stills, a short introduction by Philip D'Antoni, the film's original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. Included inside the keepcase is a color insert booklet featuring liner notes from Julie Kirgo that discuss the virtues of the film, discuss its origins and pedigree and tie in a specific scene to her own childhood in New York!

    The Final Word:

    The Seven-Ups is a solid seventies cop thriller that benefits from some excellent location work and a really strong cast. Those who appreciate gritty, seventies NYC movies will appreciate this, and Twilight Time's Blu-ray release not only looks and sounds very good but is loaded with extra features as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    • JoeS
      Senior Member
      JoeS commented
      Editing a comment
      Philip D'Antoni wanted a follow-up to his production of THE FRENCH CONNECTION and came up with this gritty tale of NYC cops. Having also produced BULLITT, it seemingly was a given that a car chase would play a central role in the action. Stepping behind the camera to direct for his only time (William Friedkin supposedly turned it down), D'Antoni and stunt legend Bill Hickman certainly came up with a doozy here. An octane fueled 10 minute chase which is a high wire act that 'plays by the rules' - up until a far-fetched finale.
      With so much attention given to that sequence, it also highlights how lacking the screenplay is. The trio of writers have some intriguing themes with police corruption, organized crime and double-crosses, but, it meanders between the set pieces. D'Antoni and his scribes are trying for intrigue and a measure of mystery, but the murky writing is more of a hindrance than an asset. It just seems like a blueprint to get from one set piece to another involving antique shops, car washes, funeral parlors etc.. The title is never even fully defined, the characters are blank, and even the central twist is pretty easy to guess very early on. The acting from Roy Scheider is exemplary. Scheider is usually mentioned as an also-ran when discussing the great actors of the 70s, but, considering JAWS, ALL THAT JAZZ, SORCERER, FRENCH CONNECTION and more, he really was in the front rank. The character actors are also good including Joe Spinell, Tony Lo Bianco and the ever-menacing Richard Lynch. Don Ellis' score is lively.
      THE SEVEN-UPS is worth seeing for the chase and Scheider, but, it takes a back seat to THE FRENCH CONNECTION and BULLITT.
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