'Hustle' ** 062605
DVD Review (1975)

The Work = **
'Hustle' is a Burt Reynolds vehicle from 1975. He had just worked with director Robert Aldrich on the football flic’ 'The Longest Yard' and here they were working together again. This time the project was a gritty police drama. 'Hustle' has some strong leads in its cast that work well with Reynolds.

Ben Johnson who is probably best known for his work in Sam Peckinpah’s films like 'The Wild Bunch' and 'The Getaway' gives a solid performance as Marty Hollinger. Hollinger is the father of a woman who is found dead. The coroner says suicide and Lieutenant Phil Gaines (Reynolds) more or less wants that as the answer. Sure there may be strange circumstances but she looks to have committed suicide, so case closed.

His partner Louis does not share Gaines views and wants to dig deeper into the cause of the young woman’s death. Louis is played by the much underrated Paul Winfield. It’s tough to say where you might know Winfield from. For me, two roles leap to mind instantly. The first is as Captain Terrell in 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan' and the second is as Lieutenant Traxler in 'The Terminator'. Winfield is always good and has that uncanny ability to breath life into even the most basic of characters. Here, in 'Hustle', he provides a solid counter point and friend to Reynolds’ Gaines.

'Hustle' is not so much a bad movie as it is a slow one. I suspect had say William Friedkin, Peter Yates, Don Siegel or another director who handled gritty crime dramas well directed this film it might have faired better. At two hours, 'Hustle' feels over long and I bet would have played stronger at 90 minutes. When the end finally does come, it is a downer and one that I am not so sure fits with the rest of the movie.

Still, I bet fans of Reynolds will probably dig this film. As it is there is a lot I like in it and I feel a little sheepish since I just gave recommendations to the Sinatra flics’ 'Tony Rome' and 'Lady in Cement' but those films were, if nothing else, a bit less long in the tooth. 'Hustle' has good performances from Reynolds, Winfield, Johnson, and Catherine Deneuve. It has good scenes but as a movie just doesn’t come together.

DVD = ***

The Look
You know, I should probably be giving this one a higher recommendation. Aside from a few shots this film has a great transfer. The film is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.

The Sound
Well here is a snafu. The movie gets a Dolby Digital stereo transfer. I’m glad Paramount put the original audio track on the DVD, it should be on there. The problem is, this movie needs a remixed track as well. Much of the dialogue is very hard to hear, resulting in either turning on the subtitles, or cranking the sound and backing up the DVD to catch the dialogue. Good thing Paramount included the English subtitles.

The Bonus
Well now, here’s hoping that you think chapter stops on a DVD are a bonus feature. That is about all you get. Why couldn’t Paramount at least dig up trailers and featurettes from the film’s release? I mean come on at least try here people. If freaken’ 'Independence Day' gets a special edition DVD than just about any release should.

All together = **
I just can’t recommend this one. If you are a fan of Aldrich, Reynolds, Winfield, or anyone else involved you may want to check it out. 'Hustle' does have good acting and good scenes but for me it was just too long and didn’t come together in the end. I say try a rental first.


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