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Hipster Holy Grail: The Big Score (1983)

The Hipster Holy Grail is a weekly experiment where I try to find and review a movie that's at least 10 years old and has less than 5,000 ratings on IMDb. I always hope to discover something amazing. Sometimes I don't.  This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews

The Big Score is a run-of-the-mill 1970s-styled cop movie from 1983.  It stars luminaries of the blaxploitation movement like Fred Williamson (who also directed) and Richard Roundtree, but despite their presence, it just ends up being the same "tough cop on the edge" movie that's been repackaged dozens of times before.  It's fine for what it is, but there's nothing special here.

My Rating: 3 / 5

The Plot Summary

Detective Frank Hooks (Williamson) is a cop on the edge.  He's out to bust a big-time drug dealer named Mayfield (Joe Spinell), but any time he or his partners (John Saxon and Richard Roundtree, neither of whom are much of a presence, to be honest) make any progress, Mayfield gets the better of them and evades capture.

The movie opens when Hooks busts a low-level dealer named Goldie, but then he (predictably) gets released on bail.  There's all the old cliched stuff where Hooks and his Chief squabble about justice and Hooks is a loose cannon, et cetera.  Then Hooks visits his girlfriend (Nancy Wilson) at a Jazz Bar and they make sweet, sexy love.

Then Hooks puts pressure on an informant to get a fresh lead on Mayfield.  The informant tells Hooks that a huge, $100 million drug deal is in the works with Goldie at the forefront.  Hooks tails Goldie to the deal, then breaks it apart and ends up killing Goldie in the process.  It would be a huge victory except for one problem: the money is gone.

The police think Hooks stole it and has kept it for himself, so Internal Affairs starts harassing him and he's suspended from the force.  In the meantime, Mayfield also thinks Hooks stole it, so they start threatening him and his girlfriend.  This is around when Bruce Glover enters the movie as Koslo, Mayfield's psychotic Number Two.

Many more cliches ensue, including tough guy scenes where Hooks and Koslo take turns trying to out-man the other and Hooks's girlfriend weeps in panic/terror.  Then Hooks goes on a murder rampage and kills Mayfield and all of his goons.

I'm not really sure what happened to the money, though.  I missed that part altogether.

The Part Where I Struggle to Think of Things to Say

So... this sure is a movie.

It's so rote and cliche that literally the only thing setting it apart from any other random cop movie is the blaxploitation element of the hero being black and the villains being white.  It's like it was trying to achieve racial equality through mundanity.

You know what, I'm not going to pretend like I have anything insightful to say about The Big Score.  The honest truth is that if I had enough time this week to watch and screencap another movie, I'd have done it.

The Big Score is such an average movie I can barely muster the enthusiasm or creative juices to give it more than two paragraphs' discussion.  What really am I going to say that you wouldn't understand by watching it?  What can I, some random white dude in the 21st century, say about a cop movie from thirty years ago that isn't even all that extreme or different from any other cop movie of its time?

I'm not gonna bother.  Let me regale you with an unrelated anecdote instead.

That Time I Yelled at a Traffic Cop

Speaking of racial dynamics and white people who don't know their limitations....

I may have mentioned this only once every other week, but I live just outside of downtown Baltimore.  Living in a city is a surefire way to remind you that parking your car is a privilege and not a right.

My situation isn't as bad as I'm sure it can be for others - usually we can find a spot within 4 blocks of our house - but it's enough of a pain in the ass that any trips that require the car need special planning and foresight.  If we know we're going to bring Lulabelle or if we have to carry lots of groceries, we do our best to schedule those trips when everybody else is at work or church and we have a greater chance of finding a parking space closer to home.

Otherwise, we have to do what every body else in the city hates you for doing until they have to do it themselves: put on your flashers and block traffic while you load and/or unload.  We're fortunate enough that the road in front of our house is a one-way street with two lanes, so we can't really impede traffic too much.  Nevertheless, it's still a hassle for us and everybody else when we do it.

Back when we were first figuring out our limits with parking (including the revelation that, yes, even just a millimeter over a crosswalk or past the "no parking" sign is enough justification for a ticket), we found ourselves trapped in one of those shitty situations where we had a bunch of heavy stuff we needed to pack into the trunk, but there were no spaces out front.  So we did the ol' flash-and-run.

While hoisting the first of two forty-pound boxes into the car, a traffic officer (one of those not-really-a-cop-but-still-has-authority types) pulled up behind us and started honking.  At that moment, there were no other cars on the street besides the officer and us.  I finished loading the box, and right as I did, the officer got out to tell me that we had to move.  I mentioned that I had another box I needed to load, and she started filling out the little ticket book thing.

Traffic officers follow the tow truck driver philosophy of "if I've already started, then I'm not changing my mind," which is only practically applicable to firing a gun and shoving a piano off a cliff.  In all other circumstances, you can totally stop what you're doing after you've started.  Unless you're an asshole.

Between the fact that our car was the only one on the street, the frustration of having nowhere to park, and the ache in my shoulders from having another box to load, I started sputtering and whining about the ticket.  She informed me that I had to move my car off the street.  So I started shouting at her, because somebody once told me that bitching like a child was the way to get things done.

Needless to say, this didn't help matters.  She just repeated that I had to move my car off the street.  So I did - I moved it into the bus stop at the end of the street to stop impeding traffic.

She parked her car next to mine so that the lane we were in was still blocked, then gave me a second ticket for parking in a bus stop.

And that's why you don't yell at cops, kids, even the fakey traffic ones who can't arrest you.  It is unsurprisingly ineffective.

Where You Can Watch

If you're looking for a way to kill 90 minutes and you'd like to check it out, you can watch The Big Score for free on Youtube.

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