Sunday, October 29, 2017

Freebie and the Bean

Another movie that I watched off my DVR since it's available on DVD from the Warner Archive is Freebie and the Bean. I'll be glad to delete it from the DVR and make room for something else.

Freebie (James Caan) and the Bean (Alan Arkin) are a pair of San Francisco police detectives who, at the start of the movie, are stealing garbage out of trash cans. Well, it's not actually stealing; they're looking for evidence that might help them to bring an indictment against Red Meyers (Jack Kruschen), who runs the numbers racket in San Francisco. Eventually they find a document, but they're going to need a witness.

So they go to see Whitey (Paul Koslo), an ex-convict who is now working on a construction crane, suggesting to him that if he doesn't give them the information they want, he might want to make certain his workman's comp is in order. That's putting it mildly; they go back to his place and rough him up because they couldn't use the information they did get from him.

That's also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their violence. The two officers start beating people up willy-nilly, and getting into ever more destructive car chases, trying to find people who might be part of the plot; of course, most of the people are perfectly innocent. Meanwhile, the two detectives also hurl abuse at each other even though they're supposedly best friends.

It goes on like this for about 110 minutes, as the two cops become such overwhelming ****s that I grew to hate them and wondered how the filmmakers thought the viewer would find them sympathetic. It doesn't help that the Meyers character is practically a cipher. Popeye Doyle and Buddy Russo engage in quite a bit of violence in The French Connection, but the bad guy and the whole heroin plot is good enough that it more than carries the movie. Likewise, Frank Sinatra in The Detective has some less than savory methods, but the point of that movie is that he has a crisis of conscience.

Freebie and the Bean is also not helped by a subplot involving Mrs. Bean (Valerie Harper). She plays the character, a Mexican-American, as a Lupe Velez stereotype, and her husband is an abolute jerk to her. The two or three scenes she has all bring the movie to a screeching halt Finally, the ending is a mess.

If you like worshipping cops, then you might actually enjoy Freebie and the Bean. And I've said on a whole bunch of occasions when I watch a movie that I don't like that people should judge for themselves. Some of you may indeed enjoy this one.

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