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When an African American lawyer runs for mayor, a racially divided community erupts into violence. Bigoted white people clash with black citizens, members of militant black groups retaliate, and no one is safe.
In a mid-sized industrial city suffering from racial unrest, police shoot and kill a black radical while he is bombing a bank. Learning of the death, idealistic black attorney Randy Johnson decides to run in the upcoming mayor's race in the hope of addressing the city's underlying problems. Meanwhile, Randy's white campaign staffer Carolyn Schneider is distraught that her convictions about working for social equality conflict with the beliefs of her lover Ron Carton, an apolitical television news producer. Unwilling to tolerate Carolyn's political work, Ron is openly having an affair with Cindy, the promiscuous, spoiled daughter of Alex Cartwright, a financier who controls Ron's television station and mayoral incumbent Ben Atkinson's campaign. In the days leading up to the election, Randy and Carolyn enlist two radicals, one black and one white, to perform deliberate acts of sabotage to scare the public into voting for Randy. Although the militants' ultimate goal is to destroy the whole political system, they reluctantly agree to help. Days later, Randy holds a news conference to announce his bid for mayor as an independent candidate concentrating on equality, housing, education and jobs. He also promises to stop the escalating violence, explaining that he understands the frustration that leads the public to lash out. Soon after, the radicals, following Randy's orders, blow up the Carlyle building construction site and murder the watchman. That night, Ron questions Randy and Carolyn, insinuating that the violent act is suspiciously well-timed with Randy's claim that he can solve the unrest. That weekend, Ron and Carolyn vacation together in the country, where Carolyn asks Ron to respect her political ideals, but Ron remains unmoved by her pleas. Meanwhile, the Johnson campaign plasters the city with posters and makes loudspeaker announcements announcing Randy's slogan, "Victory over Violence." As the election draws near, Randy begs his mother to move from the poor neighborhood where he grew up, but she advises him to be patient and seek change by starting a family rather than risk his life campaigning for office. Walking the derelict streets that night, Randy stops a young boy running from the police and questions him. The boy explains that he plays unmonitored during the night because his mother works the evening shift to support the family. After Randy advises the youth to play during the day instead and sends him home, the policeman suggests that children from the neighborhood have little hope. That night, another bomb explodes in the city, prompting the mayor to accuse Randy of inciting violence with his radical rhetoric. Realizing that Atkinson is losing the race, Cartwright orders him to make more public addresses, starting with an audience of city and construction workers. After Atkinson reminds the men that he has created jobs and development for the city, Cindy flirts with the cheering crowd, flashing her underwear and telling them that men with real jobs are sexy. Meanwhile, Randy, during a television interview, points out the city's neglect while Carolyn addresses liberal academics, warning them that the citizenry will revolt without a new mayor like Randy. Back at the television station, Cartwright vows to cut back Randy's television coverage and cancel the probe Ron is producing about the candidates, prompting Ron to threaten to quit. Ron returns home to find Cindy, who offers him sex and suggests he drop the probe. On the street that night, Randy and Carolyn successfully fight off three black attackers and then watch from the shadows as several photographers gather at the scene only moments later, hoping to catch them beaten and bruised. Randy assumes that the attack was a set up by the mayor, who meant to publish the pictures to insinuate that Randy cannot save himself, much less the city, from the violence. The next day, as Randy climbs in the polls, Ron asks Cartwright to allow televised debates and continue the probe about the continued violence in connection with the candidates. The financier sagely notes that regardless of whether Randy is involved in inciting the violence, he will be unable to stop it if elected, then orders Cindy to stop seeing Ron. Independent and rebellious, Cindy moves in with Ron despite Cartwright cutting off her funds. The couple immediately marry, shocking Carolyn, to whom Ron had earlier proposed. Meanwhile, Randy decides that one more dramatic guerrilla act, killing the socially prominent Cindy, is necessary to sway the voters. On election eve, the two radicals kidnap Cindy as directed by Randy, but take her to his office, wanting to confront him with the consequences of his own orders. After delivering a rousing public speech pledging to end the violence, Randy and Carolyn return to the campaign office to find Cindy, bound and gagged. Trying to justify his own brutality, Randy states that Cindy is purely a symbol of omnipotent wealth and hopes that with her death the public will understand that even the rich are not protected from violence. While the two militants drive Cindy to a park, where they rape and stab her to death, Ron airs a television report about the results of his probe, in which he endorses Randy's candidacy, thus ensuring his victory. Realizing Cindy's death is now unnecessary, Carolyn races to the park to save her. Meanwhile, Ron has returned home to find his apartment empty and, spotting Cindy's robe on the floor, suspects foul play. Learning from the television station that police are answering a disturbance call at the country club park, Ron races to the scene only to find his new wife brutally slain. As he covers Cindy with his jacket, Ron spots Carolyn following the radicals into an abandoned building, where the two men begin shooting at the police. When Ron tries to save Carolyn, they are both shot and killed by police, who suspect them of being in league with the radicals. Soon after learning of their deaths and his own victory, a somber, guilt-ridden Randy wonders if he can bring about the change he has promised.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||NC-17||Premiere Info:||Los Angeles opening: 7 Jun 1972; New York opening: 15 Jun 1972|
|Release Date:||1972||Production Date:||
dubbed from EB
|Color/B&W:||Color (DeLuxe)||Distributions Co:||Avco Embassy Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Derio Productions|
|Duration(mins):||101 or 103-105||Country:||United States|
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