Please imagine that you're a gum-shoe private detective called Diehl Swift, (Richard Roundtree), and recently you have been given some dubious documents which can put crime-lord, Leon Coll (Tony Lo Bianco), away for a very long time. So who do you turn to with this information, just so can earn a bit of money out of it?
himself? Or what about his arc-rival, Primo Pitt (Rip Torn)?
BANG! CRASH! SPLAT!
OK. Let's scratch that, shall well? Please imagine that you're a gum-shoe private detective called Mike Murphy, (Burt Reynolds), and recently you've heard that your silent partner, Diehl Swift, has been made silent forever more by the crime-lord, Primo Pitt. Well, that's what Lieutenant Speer's (Clint Eastwood) tells you anyway. After he has a date with you're secretary, Addy (Jane Alexander).
Now I'm sure that you remember Lieutenant Speer's, don't you? He was once a college of yours whilst you were on the police-force, who now calls you 'shortly', and trails your every move until you can figure out why Diehl snuffed it so suddenly.
You know -- the clubs -- the bars -- the hq's -- and anywhere else your feet may tread, just prior to you get a letter in the mail by Spear's himself; telling you what you have to do next.
Hey! It could be a lot worse, right? You could receive a very alarming phone call -- RING-RING -- make that two phone calls. One from your wealthy girlfriend, Caroline Howley (Madeline Kahn), informing you that she's been kindnapped by Primo Pitts men. Plus another by Spear's girlfriend, Ginny Lee (Irene Cara), asking you for some help.
Still, that's most probably why what next transpires all comes into play when you have a couple of errands to run. As singers sing - hood's go ding-a-ling-a-ling - one time partners reluctantly team-up - and please note that crime bosses can not help but eventually get blown -- BOOM! --- you know what I mean.
Now according to film-critique, Richard Schickel "Blake Edwards -- of 'Pink Panther' fame -- was originally signed to direct this film from his own screenplay, called 'Kansas City Jazz'. But a problem arose when Blake insisted on casting his wife, Julie Andrews, in the role of Caroline Howley. Regrettably Reynolds and Andrews had not gotten along very well during the production of 'The Man Who Loved Women', and of course, Reynolds had major reservations about a reprise of this previous problem. Eastwood supported Reynolds, and to make the long story short, Edwards quit the production, and along came Madeline Kahn".
Well, it is a rather clumsy movie in places. With a rather flimflam through-line that quips and parries all over the place like a monkey with an itch. One minute the story focuses on what Burt is up to. Then it goes to Clint. After that it's back to Burt again. And so on, and so on; making the whole things slightly strained as a story in its own right.
Moreover, another things that is also somewhat strained, is the overall construction of the tale too. It weaves a formulaic pattern of set-up / delay / and execution, to such an extent, that you can second guess what is going to happen next, before it does. Oh! Let me not even mention the bad-guys -- for use of a better word. Heck, even after they killed off Richard Roundtree's character, I was still not scared of them in the slightest.
Listen, I don't want to imply that 'City Heat' is a crap film in any way shape or form. Because its not. In fact, there are a number of redeeming features to it that make it a very enjoyable flick indeed. For example: (1) Clint and Burt. Do I have to say any more than that? Whenever these two giants are on screen together the sparks just fly. Turning this OK-ish film into a magical film at the drop of a hat. (2) I thought that Madeline Kahn and Jane Alexander did a very good job with the 'girl-friend' type roles given to them. Shame they weren't used in a more pro-active way though, huh? (3) I did get a kick out of the penultimate battle scene where Burt said to Clint 'I think that they are four crooks down that alleyway', because I presume it was a filmic-reference to Clint being in 'A Fist Full Of Dollars' [click here for the review]. (4) Whenever Clint twitches his eye in that 'Inspector Dreyfus' way of his, honest to God, chills ran up my spine. It was as if these jovial scenes justified why this film was made in the first place -- Burt and Clint -- together -- say no more.
(3) This was Clint's penultimate comedy movie. His last was 'Pink Cadillac' [click here for the review]. (4) Did you know that Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood share quite a few things in common? They were both sacked from 'Universal Studios' at one time or another. They're respective careers began on the small screen. And they appeared together on the cover of 'Time' Magazine', on
the 9th of January, 1978. The headline
read: ' Hollywood's Honchos -- Good
Ole Burt; Cool-Eyed Clint'. (5) Burt wanted his good friend and co-star on
'Cannonball Run 2' -- Richard Keil -- to play the part of the thug, Troy Roker,
in this film. But Clint didn't. Due to the fact that he was going to use
Richard in one of his up and coming movies -- 'Pale Rider'. (6) This flick
was a joint Malpaso / Deliverance production. 'Malpaso' from Clint's end -- and
'Deliverance' from Burt's end. (7)
Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood were two of biggest stars in Hollywood
at the time this movie was released. (8) Clint's 'love interest' in the
war-time adventure, 'Heartbreak Ridge', Marsha Mason, was originally cast in
the role of Addy. But again -- due to creative differences -- she was quickly
replaced by Jane Alexander.
Overall 'City Heat' is what I would call a so-so film, and a must watch for any Burt or Clint fan out there in movie-land.
THE RATING: B-