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JOHN THAW AS JACK REGAN IN THE FIRST THEATRICAL 'SWEENEY!'

Poster art for SWEENEY! Year: 1977 Rating: ***1/2

While THE SWEENEY television series spent equal time with John Thaw's Jack Regan and his younger partner Dennis Waterman as George Carter, they worked overtime turning the devil-faced Thaw into a womanizing sex symbol, hence this theatrical feature hybrid of NORTH BY NORTHWEST about Regan turned Wrong Man force-fed booze (to crash his car and lose his badge), and ALL THE KING'S MEN being that SWEENEY! is a paranoiac Political Thriller with a villain in politician's spokesman Barry Foster, taking out anyone in his path (including Woodward/Bernstein style Collin Weiland) by calling a thug service that seems phone-book ready,  far too easy despite the complicated plot involving... not water like another inspiration CHINATOWN... but oil... 

And so, with Waterman benign, Thaw's involved in gun fights with tons of running, ducking and hiding. But it's this film's Eva Marie Saint in hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Diane Keen, working for the villain before reluctantly then willingly not only aiding our runaway rogue, but falling madly and predictably in love: Which is normal since every woman in almost every episode of THE SWEENEY melts for the conventionally unattractive Thaw... but it's England where not only J.R.R. Tolkien writes fantasy. And while SWEENEY! is a violently fun, gritty rollercoaster ride... being based on a series about cop partners, two would have worked better than one: another reason to see SWEENEY 2 instead.   

Diane Keen warms up to John Thaw in SWEENEY!
Diane Keen warms up to John Thaw in SWEENEY!


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