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ROBERT BLAKE AND ELLIOTT GOULD 'BUSTING' CORNELIA SHARPE

Cornelia Sharpe in BUSTING Year: 1974 Rating: ****
Starring Elliott Gould and Robert Blake as determined vice cops BUSTING hookers, making a scene in a sex shop and, as the curtain opens, dogging a high price call girl: Enter the insanely gorgeous Cornelia Sharpe, who the year before played cop Al Pacino's girlfriend in SERPICO...

Liken to a mazy Film Noir, the proverbial shoes stick on her, and eventually stumble upon a monopolizing, untouchable mega-pimp played by underrated Allen Garfield backed by henchman Sid Haig who, it turns out, doesn't have much to do since his boss owns the courts and the cops (Sid stated in our podcast interview that the script was being rewritten the entire time, but on the Blu Ray commentary, a much too soft-spoken Peter Hymans seemed to feel all went pretty smoothly and, other than a lot of deliberate improvising by Gould and especially Blake, production flowed according to his own script: the only trouble he had was with the Gay Community after the release).

Blake, Gould, Slattery in BUSTING Score: ***1/2
To keep it from being as jumpy, there should/could have been more off-course scenes establishing our dusty heroes against lesser villains in the dark city. Instead, the second act rushes a rogue-cop sub-genre (times two) as Gould and Blake go on their own to nab Garfield, which is highlighted by an adventurous climb to the top by hanging around (after being punished) at the bottom...

Meanwhile, their immense hatred for Garfield's Rizzo is more than the audience can feel or relate with given the little time to establish his power and villainy... We have to take their word, which is far too much dialogue about a guy who seems pretty-run of-the-mill in the heavy department... But it's entertaining as they wait, and wait for a lead: like by waiting inside a filthy public restroom to nab random perverts: showing the kind of torturous meantime (vice) cops go through that most movies leave out, or edit down to a springboard for an upcoming action sequence...

Cornelia Sharpe in Busting
But casual viewers, don't despair — there's more than a touch of mainstream thrown in as a long FRENCH CONNECTION-style chase (here on foot) takes place in-and-out of a large outdoor bazaar, which helps make future CAPRICORN ONE director Peter Hyams' grungy exploitation an addictive pleasure, but not a guilty one — while far from sublime, like, say, BULLITT, or even MAGNUM FORCE, it's still a decent entry...

The lovely Cornelia Sharpe
Robert Blake, amazing in IN COLD BLOOD, plays the epitome of a second-banana... sans the usual sidekick comic relief since he and Gould share similarly caustic, world-weary attitudes, with just-enough chemistry to seem more than two actors thrown together...

And, for a device/activity, Blake dangles an omnipresent unlit cigarette in his mouth — warming up for an upcoming cop TV-series featuring a cockatoo? Only it's Gould who (at one point) dons the schlocky costume/fake accent gag. Overall, his performance is natural and easy with some fifth gear intensity when needed...

Fans watched this for years before any disc
And, as usual, maybe wanting to appeal to younger (stoned) audiences who weren't big law enforcement buffs, Gould harbors (beyond "hip threads" and a bushy mustache for undercover purposes) some residual 1960's-era hippie spite, at one point actually referring to two uniformed cops as "Pigs!" And of course the partners work for an irritable, lecturing police chief, and a baffled desk sergeant (Richard X. Slattery)...

Also, for fans of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, Peter Hyams would direct the cold-war-leaning sequel, 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT, and there's a rare glimpse at the original's cerebral centerpiece, Dr. Heywood Floyd ala character-actor William Sylvester (played by Roy Scheider in the sequel) as a defense lawyer in a grungy courtroom displaying all of that decade's cinematic street trash: from junkies to whores to pimps to trannies and, in the previous scene, a hopped-up, sexually-charged homosexual in a gay bar, seeming intentionally overplayed byAntonio Fargas, making a lusty, physical pass at Blake as if political-correctness would never take over Hollywood (Hyams basically apologizes in the commentary) — and such "blatant stereotyping" would not be allowed. Who knows, maybe that kinda thing kept this buried treasure buried for so long.
Busting William Sylvester who played Floyd on 2001: A Space Odyssey, here he's a lawyer for Cornelia Sharpe
Elliott Gould and Robert Blake in BUSTING
Gould does bathroom duty... spelled duty...
Elliott Gould in Busting
Robert Blake and lowrent hood Michael Lerner in BUSTING
Cornelia Sharpe at the dentist's office, where she's about to do her job
Cornelia Sharpe gets the title treatmen
Robert Blake and Elliott Gould in a lobby card for BUSTING
Robert Blake in BUSTING
Antonio Fargas Busting with Robert Blake who he flirts with and onlooker Elliott Gould

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