Hot on the heels of the success of the masterpiece The French Connection, that film’s producer Philip D’Antoni produced and directed this companion film of sorts. Both films star Roy Schneider where he plays effectively the same character who is based on Sonny Grosso who was involved in The French Connection case and gets a story credit for The Seven-Ups. Over the years it’s gained a small cult following which is valid even the film is held in higher esteem than is deserves by some.
The Seven-Ups are a group of NYPD officers who use unconventional measure to apprehend criminals. Roy Schnider’s Buddy Manucci is the leader of the group and when his partner gets killed he goes on a hunt to find the culprit behind his death. Twists and turns throughout, high up criminals are being kidnapped in mysterious ways and there is a police informant who isn’t particularly reliable.
The film’s major problem comes down from the fact the finished script and characterization is seriously lacking. Only Schnider’s Buddy Manucci seems to be fleshly drawn out and the rest of the team are indistinguishable from each other except for the fact one of them is black. One of the screenwriters was the excellent Alexander Jacobs who wrote the game changing script for Point Blank and also Hell in the Pacific and even French Connection II. However it looks like the writer Albert Ruben known only for TV rewrote Jacobs’ script and filled the script with exposition which Jacobs rarely used in his work because it tended to be on the sparse minimalistic side.
However of course given the fact it’s a ’70s crime film is full of great moments. The car chase give the ones in The French Connection and Bullitt (also produced by D’Antoni) a run for their money even if The French Connection still edges it for my money. The chase sequence literally borrows elements of the Bullitt but transfer it to the mean streets of New York instead of San Francisco. The climax of the car chase even has a nod to the death of Jayne Mansfield as well. The shoot outs are exciting and it moves on a solid pace around the 100 minute mark. Schneider is also just one of those actors whose sheer presence on-screen oozes cinematic tension.
The film’s initial release was relatively uneventful probably down to the fact a whole host of other crime films came out around the same time. To name just a few of those films Electra Glide in Blue, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Outfit and of course Serpico and all of them have probably aged slightly better. However the cop turned actor Dennis Farina has been on record saying The Seven-Ups is most realistic depiction of cops ever on-screen he ever saw.
Signal One Entertainment has continued their excellent run of releases. The transfer is film like with the right amount of grain and luckily never feeling cleaned up enough to lose the film’s gritty look. Philip D’Antoni introduces the film and is also interviewed on the disc. The technical adviser Randy Jurgensen gives a newly filmed interview as well and there is a documentary on the much celebrated car chase. The writer Richard Harland Smith does a commentary track, a vintage featurette is included and even a cut down Super 8 version of the film is thrown in there along with trailers and image gallery features. All in all an exhaustive package.