Saturday, November 10, 2007

No. 37 - The Choirboys

Macho director Robert Aldrich (The Longest Yard, The Dirty Dozen) turned his attention to police officers in his 1977 film The Choirboys. Based upon Joseph Wambaugh's novel, The Choirboys shows how LAPD's finest blow off steam after a stressful day of keeping the streets safe. It's Animal House with a body count.

The great Charles Durning gets to play the lead in a talented ensemble of actors. Durning, who is usually relegated to supporting roles, makes the most of his part as a good cop trying to hang on to his sanity until he can retire. James Woods makes one of his first screen appearances (almost as great as his turn as a dweeby bank executive in The Gambler who gets strangled by James Caan). Perry King, who appeared in such critically lambasted 70's films as Lipstick and A Different Story, co-stars, along with Burt Young, Randy Quaid, Lou Gossett, and the brilliant Tim McIntire, who memorably plays a psychotic cop named Roscoe Rules.

Excoriated by critics at the time of its release in late 1977, and ignored by audiences who preferred softer fare such as The Turning Point and The Goodbye Girl, The Choirboys holds up today as a great study of hard-working men in an urban pressure cooker. Also, in true 70's fashion, uproarious comedy is interrupted by horrible tragedy.

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