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Across 110th Street

Where to Watch Across 110th Street

R
1972

Across 110th Street is an American drama film released in 1972, capturing the raw essence of New York City in all its intensity and grit. Directed by Barry Shear and starring a powerhouse cast led by Anthony Quinn, Yaphet Kotto, and Anthony Franciosa, the film offers a snapshot of a city teetering on the edge of social and racial unrest.

Set in vivid, pulsating, vintage Harlem, the film delves into the tense and explosive circumstances that arise when a trio of small-time crooks decide to rob a mafia-run gambling den. The gritty realism of the setting throws the audience into the crime-ridden streets, offering an authentic portrayal of urban decay in the 1970s.

Anthony Quinn, the film’s lead, delivers a stellar performance as Captain Mattelli, an aging, corrupt NYPD cop who, despite his flaws, remains committed to cracking the case. Quinn's portrayal of Mattelli, a man with questionable methods but unmistakable dedication, infuses the narrative with conflict and complexity. His professional journey is juxtaposed with his personal battles as he grapples with racial tensions, police corruption, and his fading knights-in-armor ethos amidst the city's degenerating morality.

Complementing Quinn's performance, Yaphet Kotto gives a powerful portrayal of Lieutenant Pope, an honest, hard-working African-American officer assigned to the case. Pope acts as a foil to Mattelli, epitomizing virtue and integrity, and serving as a beacon of hope amidst the gloomy landscape of crime and corruption. Kotto’s vivid portrayal of Pope enhances the film’s question of moral ethics in the face of adversity and societal decay. The tensions and conflicts between Pope and Mattelli, both personal and professional, contribute significantly to the narrative tension.

Anthony Franciosa, starring as mafia enforcer Nick D'Salvio, brings a ruthless intensity to his role, showcasing the mafia's brutal grip on the city. With an unflinching determination to recover the stolen money and exact vengeance, Franciosa adds an extra layer of menace to the already grim narrative landscape.

The film's title, Across 110th Street, refers to the boundary line between Harlem and Central Park, its grim and vivid portrayal of this section of New York metaphorically suggesting the socio-economic and racial boundaries that characterized the city during the era. The boundary serves as a contact zone where various classes, races, and ideologies collide, underpinning the film's explorations of tension, crime, and conflict.

Amidst its compelling performances and incisive social commentary, Across 110th Street is also notable for its iconic soundtrack, featuring soulful tunes by Bobby Womack and Peace that truly embody the spirit of Harlem’s urban soundscape in the 1970s. The opening theme, “Across 110th Street,” is a particular standout, effectively setting the tone for the film’s gritty, unapologetic take on urban reality.

The film's director, Barry Shear, displays an intimate understanding of the socio-political fabric of 1970s New York, deftly using the narrative to highlight racial and social inequality, police corruption, and the human consequences of crime. Amidst this exploration, the film never shies away from showing the brutal reality of the streets, a choice that makes it a standout amongst other crime dramas of its era.

The screenplay, written by Luther Davis, is tightly constructed and effectively balances the film's many thematic elements. The dialogue is sharp and engaging, holding a mirror to the realities of the time and the struggles faced by the characters. Each character is well-drawn and dimensional, from our leading men to the supporting cast, making the narrative believable and gripping throughout its runtime.

On the technical front, the film is remarkable for its authentic depiction of Harlem's cityscape, its on-location filming giving it a documentary-like feel. Cinematographer Jack Priestley captures the gritty, dreary atmosphere of the city with an unflinching eye, making the city itself a silent character in the film.

In conclusion, Across 110th Street is more than just a crime drama – it’s a stark, gritty portrait of a city in decay and despair, as well as a poignant meditation on racial tensions, social unrest, crime, and police corruption in 1970s New York. It is a testament to powerful performances, a poignant narrative, and visually engaging cinematic craftsmanship. It's a grim journey into the heart of the city that never sleeps, a journey that remains as relevant and engaging today as when it was first released.

Across 110th Street is a Action, Crime, Drama movie released in 1972. It has a runtime of 102 minutes. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.0..

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7.0/10
Director
Barry Shear
Stars
Anthony Quinn, Yaphet Kotto, Anthony Franciosa
Also starring Yaphet Kotto
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