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  Freebie and the Bean Buddy Buddy
Year: 1974
Director: Richard Rush
Stars: Alan Arkin, James Caan, Loretta Swit, Jack Kruschen, Mike Kellin, Paul Koslo, Linda Marsh, John Garwood, Alex Rocco, Valerie Harper, Christopher Morley, Bruce Mackey, Monty Stickles, Chuck Bail, Eddy Donno, Robert Harris, Whitey Hughes
Genre: Comedy, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Freebie (James Caan) and Bean (Alan Arkin) are two plainclothes cops in San Francisco who tonight are currently emptying garbage into the back of their car. There is a good reason for their actions, which is the evidence they are searching for that will bring down a local, corrupt businessman called Myers (Jack Kruschen), and lo and behold, torn up into a number of pieces is exactly the kind of note they have sought. However, after trying and failing to track down another criminal who may be involved, and as usual not being proud about how they go about assembling their case - violence and threats being mandatory - they are brought in by the D.A. (Alex Rocco) who tells them they can't get their arrest warrant until early next week. This is unfortunate, as Myers has a contract out on his head, and may not survive the next few days...

Until The Blues Brothers came along at the start of the next decade, one of the films that seemed to sum up the feeling of the comedy action genre being nothing more than excuse for lamebrained and wanton destruction was Freebie and the Bean, and the Blues Brothers weren't even cops as our heroes here were. Scripted by Robert Kaufman from executive producer Floyd Mutrux's story, the whole production appeared to be an attempt to pack in as much violence, shouting and, shall we say, broad humour as possible as we were encouraged to revel in the good guys' bad behaviour. Luckily, in the shape of Arkin and Caan, director Richard Rush had a great double act to wring the laughs from material that was unpromising on paper.

The epitome of the buddy picture, this film set a template that has lasted to this day with any number of mismatched law enforcers gracing our screens both large and small. It's not the plotline that's important, indeed it's pretty difficult to follow in this, it's the setpieces and the love-hate relationship between its protagonists that really matters. The bigoted, devil may care Freebie and the uptight, supposedly Mexican Bean (Arkin as a Mexican?) are perfectly suited to one another, if only they could admit it to themselves they could settle down with each other and start a famliy. As it is, they have to remain abrasive, with such scenes as Freebie yanking the buttons off Bean's shirt to demonstrate how cheap it is depicting this.

And then there's the action, which takes the form of chases in their car (whatever their latest model is after the last one has been trashed) and chases on foot, the more destructive the better. These sequences are well handled by Rush, and not as repetitive as the antagonistic character interplay, with the pursuit that ends with the police car smashing into the side of a third floor apartment and the motorcycle chase standing out (although the stunt doubles aren't exactly well hidden). Yet when you get right down to it, Freebie and Bean are idiots, it's a miracle they don't kill innocent bystanders, and when we see them fire a hail of bullets into a toilet cubicle they believe is holding a hitman we realise they are dangerous. In fact, it's difficult to see whose side Rush is on, as the others, authorities and criminals both, are not especially sympathetic either and it's only their sense of humour that allows us to warm to the bumbling lawmen of the title. Music by Dominic Frontiere.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Richard Rush  (1930 - )

Cult American director who never quite made the most of his talents, mainly due to circumstances beyond his control. He spent the 1960s working on exploitation films of increasing stature, some of which have become cult favourites, such as Hells Angels on Wheels, Psych-Out and The Savage Seven, until he gained recognition with counterculture drama Getting Straight. The 1970s followed with one other film, buddy cop comedy Freebie and the Bean, until in 1980 The Stunt Man, which many consider his best work, was released. After that he had just one more credit, for unintentional laugh fest thriller The Color of Night. His fans wish Rush had enjoyed more creative opportunities.

 
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