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Rookie Los Angeles policeman Roy is being taught the ropes by Kilvinsky, an old pro who is about to retire and wants to train Roy to take over for him when he leaves the force. But Roy is not at his best due to his recent divorce, so takes extra work on Kilvinsky''s part.
In Los Angeles, police rookies Roy Fehler, Gus Plebesly and Sergio Duran complete their training and, partnered with senior officers, begin patrolling city streets. Roy, a part-time law student with a wife and young daughter, plans to go into criminal law and hopes the police experience will provide invaluable lessons along with a much-needed salary. Also a father with three children, Gus simply longs to prove himself worthy of being a good cop. Serge, a Chicano former gang member, intends to leave behind his street life. He tells his new partner, Galloway, that he finds it ironic that he has been assigned to the East L. A. Hollenbeck division located in his former neighborhood. Roy, assigned to night patrol with senior officer Andy Kilvinski, discovers that the veteran has several unorthodox methods in dealing with the constant crime of the streets. One evening in a police paddy wagon, Roy and Andy pick up numerous prostitutes and although it is illegal not to arrest them, drive around for several hours before releasing them, thus disrupting one night of their trade. To keep the women content, Andy provides them with liquor and snacks. Meanwhile, Gus is paired with Whitey Duncan, an old-timer who efficiently handles a complaint about a drunken brawling couple by convincing them that as a policeman, he has the ability to provide them with a divorce. Several nights later, Gus and Whitey respond to a burglary call at a small corner store. While Whitey takes the details of the robbery from the owner's son, Gus searches an alley behind the store and, seeing a figure with a gun, calls out, then fires twice. Examining the dead victim in the light, Gus is horrified to see he is the middle-aged black storeowner and remains in shock as the man's distraught son curses him. Later in the squad car, Whitey assures Gus that he would have responded the same, but Gus is still unnerved. The men continue their night patrols, dealing with drunken, abusive parents, petty thieves and violent gang members. At home, Roy's wife Dorothy, initially supportive of Ray's job, grows gradually disenchanted with his increasing obsession with the work, his decision to drop out of law school and his growing detachment from their young daughter. On one evening patrol, Andy tells Roy how much he loves working the streets. When the men drive by a convenience store, they notice some unusual activity and pull over to investigate. As Roy watches the front of the store from across the street, Andy investigates the back entrance. Huddled by cars parked on the street, Roy notices a couple cuddled together in one car and opening their passenger door, advises them to drive away. He is stunned when the man, who is part of the robbery, abruptly shoots him. Painfully wounded, Roy recovers slowly over several weeks and initially allows only Dorothy and Andy to visit him in the hospital. Dorothy pleads with Andy to talk Roy into quitting the force, but Andy tells her Roy must make his own choices. Later, Gus confides to Serge his great fear of being wounded and his admiration of Roy's courage. Andy is reassigned with Serge and the team answers a complaint by a white landlord of a slum apartment who insists the tenants are illegal immigrants who owe him two months back rent. Discovering the small apartment crowded with frightened men who eagerly provide a receipt for the rent, Andy is angered to realize the landlord is charging excessive rent because the men are not citizens. Returning to the landlord, Andy demands he lower the rent and threatens him. Several weeks later, Roy returns to the division and after a period doing desk work, returns to the street partnered with Galloway. After the men are involved in a robbery-hostage shootout, Roy expresses relief that he was not afraid to be back in action. A year after the rookies began, Andy retires on his twenty-fifth anniversary with the force. At a strip club farewell party, Andy tells Roy he is disappointed that the constant modifications in the law make it increasingly difficult for police to do their work. He accuses judges and courts of being too removed from the victims to realize that evil exists and must be constantly battled with strong methods. Roy insists that despite the continual restrictions, police serve a necessary function in society and always will. Some months later, Roy joins the undercover vice squad, but is dismayed when the night patrol assignment consists of going through a suspected bookie's garbage and baiting possible homosexuals. At home, Roy relates the practices to Dorothy only to have her announce that she is leaving him because he has continually placed his work ahead of her and their daughter. A few weeks later, Roy returns to street duty at his request. The men are delighted when Andy, who had moved to Florida to live with his daughter, returns for a visit. Early one morning, Andy telephones Roy to reflect on his life with the force, which he admits meant everything to him. After the phone call, Andy shoots himself, traumatizing Roy and the other patrolmen. Under the pressure of Andy's suicide and his impending divorce, Roy, now teamed with a young rookie, Johnson, begins drinking while on patrol. One evening the men answer a burglary call and the victim, nurse Lorrie Hunt recognizes Roy from his stay in the hospital. Later that night, a tipsy Roy confronts a prostitute as she gets in her car and, fearful of arrest for the marijuana she is carrying, the woman brazenly drives off with Roy hanging on to the car. After being slammed into other cars and the side of a building, a battered Roy finally tumbles off the car and makes his way to Lorrie's where he pleads for help. Receiving three weeks suspension for drinking on the job, Roy takes the time to begin dating Lorrie and the two fall in love. Reflecting on Andy's death, Roy tells Lorrie that for the first time in his life, he realizes personal relationships are the most important thing to him. Soon after, Roy accompanies Serge and Gus on patrol and is pleased to learn that Gus is going to night school and Serge is engaged. Roy admits he is thinking of marrying again when a woman in the street flags them down to say that her husband struck her and is behaving irrationally. The three officers approach the upstairs apartment and as Roy climbs the steps toward the front door, a man comes out with a gun and shoots him. As Serge disarms the man, Gus cradles the dying Roy who laments that he had just learned what was important.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||R||Premiere Info:||World premiere in Los Angeles, CA: 1 Aug 1972|
|Release Date:||1972||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Eastmancolor)||Distributions Co:||Columbia Pictures|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Chartoff-Winkler Productions, Inc.|
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good, generally entertaining, but no real plot and lots of contrived incidents, like a popourri of cliches.good acting by leads, but no real opportunity...