Where’s Friedkin when you need him?: The Seven-Ups (Philip D’Antoni, 1973)

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The Seven-Ups is a competent 70s thriller that has little unique to offer. The title refers to an expert team of New York Cops, led by Buddy (Roy Scheider), who use undercover and surveillance methods to get results. A group of men who are kidnapping Italian mobsters for ransom money complicate the Seven-Ups’ operations.

Although this film has a complex plot, it doesn’t have much else to fill it out. Scheider puts in a good performance, but the script doesn’t quite push this decent cop’s moral dilemmas far enough. The other characters, and actors, are not particularly interesting.

Sonny Grosso, the cop upon whom Scheider’s role in The French Connection was based, devised this film’s story. His influence seems clear in Buddy’s affinity for his Italian neighbourhood, something that was important to Grosso but wasn’t relevant in The French Connection. It’s more significant here.

With Philip D’Antoni (The French Connection‘s producer) directing, The Seven-Ups also has something of that film’s attitude towards the audience, explaining little and expecting them to try to keep up. Although The French Connection has a sensibility that can’t be replicated in a film that’s made safely and legally, not to mention without the sheer nerve of William Friedkin (look no further than The French Connection 2), The Seven-Ups does hold its own in presenting New York in a gritty and realist way.

This film’s standout sequence is a car chase lasting about ten minutes. Unfortunately, it closely resembles the iconic chase from Bullitt, right down to the size difference between the cars and the same stunt driver. This chase is exciting and superbly filmed, but it’s no coincidence that D’Antoni also produced Bullitt.

The Seven-Ups feels blatantly similar to more famous cop thrillers of its era. For this reason I’d only recommend it to to people who like these films, and are looking for more of the same.

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