Skip to main content

A Piece of the Action (1977)

A Piece of the Action. Feature film. (1977, 135 mins) IMDB

...Who would you have over for dinner? Sidney Poitier or Bill Cosby....


PIECE OF THE ACTION is the third film starring Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier. Poitier also directed the films.

(And yes, I would be fascinating to have both them sitting around a table for dinner.)

We're in Chicago and I love the setup for this film. It's clever, fun and interesting.

It starts during the dark of night. Crosby is a cat burglar robbing a vault in a bank. He's by himself, all the tools he needs, and doesn't speak a word of dialogue for at least the first twenty minutes of the film. It must have been killing him. His robbery goes off successfully. (It includes a jump from a six or seven story window. There was a similar scene in their earlier films.) When the cops arrive during the daylight, they haven't a clue and we catch a glimpse of James Earl Jones as a detective. (Interesting this film was released in the same year as Star Wars. Need I say more.)

Off to Poitier's part in this story. He carries out a con on the mob. There's a scene where lots of cash is collected and counted. (Odd given the source of the cash that it's all perfectly flat and crisp!) On Poitier's word, the mafia guys think they're going to be raided by the cops. They panic and ditch any evidence which includes the money which Poitier takes control of. When it's over, they know they've been had.

Thanks to a crocked cop, Detective Jones knows about this scheme.

Poitier has to worry about the mob coming after him but they don't know it was him. Crosby is in the clear. Enter Jones's retirement. He makes an anonymous request of the two: help out at a community centre or you're going to jail. They don't want to, they like their lives as they exists (they only met because of Jones), but what choice do they have? None.

They agree to go to the community centre. Now we're into Act II. The community centre is run-down. Two women run it with the help of others. The focus is on a group of young black adults who are unemployable. The centre is trying to clean up their acts so they can be productive citizens. Fat chance. P&C refer to them as gorillas because they act uncivilized, but with Poitier as their instructor, now there is a chance. (It reminds me of an earlier film he made in the UK: TO SIR WITH LOVE. It's worth watching.)

While Poitier is trying to make something out of these kids, Crosby is tracking down companies who might hirer them. He's also trying to figure out who the anonymous blackmailer is (Jones) and he's falling for the woman who is running the place.

Act III starts with the realization that Jones's late wife the founding administrator of the centre. They have him and confront him, but in the process the mob locates Poitier and are after him. It gets worse when they kidnap his girlfriend Nikki. Give us back the $475K you took and we think about returning your girlfriend.

Poitier doesn't have the money. He's spent a bunch of it. Jones gives them a lead from the crooked cop. They rob a couple of safes. During these scenes a secret is kept: what did they rob and from whom?

The final confrontation. Money for the girl. Girl goes free, but not Poitier. They are going to kill him. They would kill him except for some reason the mafia boss, Bruno, kept incriminating evidence in these safes. Poiter has his out.

There's a fair bit of social commentary in this film, preachy to a point, but even after thirty plus years, it doesn't appear as if anything has changed.

It reminds me of a famous quote by the head of Columbia Pictures, "If you want to send a message, use Western Union."

Having said that I'm not going to fault them on that. If I were in their position, I'd probably do the same thing.

The best scene of the film is the moment when Poitier walks into the classroom full of gorillas and gets no respect. You know something is going to happen to make them change and you want to know why.

Posted 2009/03/07 at 19h57ET in Movie Commentary.


Popular posts from this blog

Day 109: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

Sunday, March 6, 2017 Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.
At 18:47 Office ... I barely remembered anything about this story... H as it really been three months? I guess it has. I put it out of my mind [so much so] that I barely remembered anything about this story. Not even the title. [Unreal!!!!!!] I had the general premise and an ending—enough I thought for a novel. What I lacked was a determination and desire to want to write it. Why bother… I wasn’t enjoying the process and I had no reason to believe the result wouldn’t be anything more than what’s gone before—nothing.
James Piper Kitchener, Ontario Post comments on facebook page. Follow me on twitter. Posted 2017/04/14 at 14h02ET in The Deep Blue Cage | Writing A Novel

Words: Fairy—Ferry

Thursday, September 6, 2012
A homonym.
FAIRY—A fairy tale. A fairy godmother. Fairy—not a long, long way to run.
FERRY—A boat or ship to transport drunken Swedes back home from Copenhagen. It’s the Danish beer.
Fairy Ferry Samantha the Swimming Fairy by Daisy Meadows Evening Ferry by Katherine Towler
Posted 2012/09/06 at 5h02ET in Words, Writing.

Day 2: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

Friday, November 18th, 2016 Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments. ... There’s also poetic justice for this crew for what they did to the women they kept.... I t’s still Friday to me. [Writing early Saturday morning.] I wasn’t in bed until 6h and up at 14h. Then lots of errands. Lots of walking. Felt tired earlier—something different. I haven’t spent much time thinking about this story. I seemed to have put my mind into another lane. Not what I want. I was thinking too much about my future as a successful writer. Not simply being a writer, but a successful writer. One that makes a good living off or from it. That’s a better goal. So what to say about this story. No title. Oh. I did decide on something. She can’t die. Too much of a downer. That would seem to rule out a revenge aspect by the husband. Maybe she does it. These guys [the baddies] have to get it in the end. I was thinking about how she wants to sink the s…