Written by: Christopher O’Neill on January 11th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: USA, December 14th, 1973
Director: Philip D’Antoni
Writer: Albert Ruben, Alexander Jacobs; Story: Sonny Grosso
Cast: Roy Scheider, Tony Lo Bianco, Larry Haines, Richard Lynch, Ken Kercheval
DVD released: August 9th, 2010
Approximate running time: 99 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85.1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Optimum Classics
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99
Buddy Manucci heads an elite team of New York detectives who are notorious within the police department for their unorthodox methods and questionable tactics but the tight-knit group nonetheless get results. They are nicknamed The Seven-Ups since the crimes of the felons they go after are punishable by jail terms of seven years or more. Unbeknownst to the squad there have been a rash of kidnappings in which mafia kingpins are abducted by hoods posing as undercover detectives. To further fuel the confusion and anger, an old childhood friend of Buddy’s is manipulating the police and the criminal underworld by supplying false information and playing both sides off each other. In the midst of this intense atmosphere the Seven-Ups get caught in the middle of an attempted ransom exchange resulting in the death of one of the team. With the squad’s reputation laying in tatters and Buddy vengeful for the murder of his colleague, the disgraced detective ruthlessly goes after the men responsible and eventually uncovers the betrayal by his close friend.
Following the tremendous success of William Friedkin’s The French Connection, Hollywood studios were hungry for further exploits of the detectives who were portrayed in that film – Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso. Each were offered solo projects that took their real-life personas and placed them in entirely fictionalized situations with Egan becoming ‘Eddie Ryan’ in the loud and garish Badge 373 while Grosso becoming ‘Buddy Manucci’ in the low-key and calculated The Seven-Ups. With the latter film The French Connection producer Philip D’Antoni made his only directing credit and gathered around him many credible people not only involved in the Friedkin picture – actors Roy Scheider and Tony Lo Bianco, composer Don Ellis, stuntman Bill Hickman – but also Point Blank and Sitting Target screenwriter Alexander Jacobs and Shaft and Shaft’s Big Score cinematographer Urs Furrer. These production credentials ensure that D’Antoni has a faultless and technically proficient picture: The acting is dependably strong, the music score effective, there’s an exciting car chase, the screenplay taut and visually the film is crisp and atmospheric. Unfortunately, what the film ultimately lacks is an edge. As a filmmaker D’Antoni lacks the intensity that William Friedkin brought to The French Connection and one cannot escape the feeling that The Seven-Ups is a by-the-numbers committee project. While on its own merits the film is an enjoyably solid 70s cop thriller, ultimately it pales in comparison to the pictures it is trying to emulate.
Optimum Releasing bring The Seven-Ups to DVD via their Classics devision and the visual and audio presentation is top-notch. Letterboxed at its correct aspect ratio of 1:85:1, the image quality is excellent with healthy moderate grain and no notable wear and tear. Originally a 20th Century Fox presentation, that studio’s logo has been removed from this DVD and replaced by the Studio Canal emblem. Likewise, the original mono soundtrack is clear and free of hiss or damage. The only extra is a theatrical trailer (2 minutes) which is an presented anamorphic at 1.78.1 and is in rough, incredibly grainy condition. The American DVD release from 20th Century Fox also contained an additional theatrical trailer plus a vintage making of featurette called Anatomy of a Chase (8 minutes). Neither of these are present on the Optimum Classics DVD.