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Following the trail of a private eye in a 3-piece suit who pilots a mean Lincoln Continental.
In Los Angeles, an African-American private detective known as Mr. T, short for "Mr. Trouble," goes to his "office," a billiards parlor run by his friend Jimmy. The cocky, well-dressed T, known throughout the neighborhood for being able to "fix" any problem, angers a young pool shark by easily besting him. Watching the game are two racketeers, African-American Chalky Price and his white partner, Pete Cockrell, who ride along with T as he investigates a crooked building management firm. During the journey, Chalky and Pete explain that their illegal craps and card games are being raided, always by silent bandits wearing masks and gloves so that it is impossible to discern their race. The two racketeers want to hire T to stop the robbers, although they balk when he demands a fee of $10,000. T orders them to call him when they decide, and after they leave, they go to the building where their next game will be held that night. Chalky and Pete, along with their henchmen, Billy Chi and Frank, have invented the robbery story and kidnapped Abbey Walsh, a collector for rival gangster Mr. Big, and intend to frame T for Abbey's murder. They hope that after framing T, Big will retaliate and either get killed or arrested, thus clearing the way for them to take over his territory. After finalizing the arrangements, they call T to give him their location, at which T plans to observe the game. During the craps game, several masked, gloved men enter and rob the players, who quickly scatter. As the robbers leave, Pete puts a hood over Abbey's head and shoves him into the hallway, where he is shot in the back by Chalky. Because one of the robbers was wearing a distinctive, blue sports coat exactly the same as Abbey's, T assumes that Abbey was one of the culprits. Curious about why Abbey would be involved, T goes to the Main Street Gym, where he asks boxer Bobby Golden, a friend of Abbey, if the dead man would participate in the stick-ups. Bobby asserts that Abbey would do so only if he had been ordered to by Big. Meanwhile, Chi has dumped Abbey's body and called the police to inform them that T murdered Abbey, and where the corpse is located. Police detectives Paco Valdez and Tim Millers come to the gym to arrest T, who protests his innocence to Capt. Joe Marx. Although there is no physical evidence linking T to the murder, Marx, who hates the belligerent T, is still suspicious. Upon his release, T is picked up by Leroy and Pindar, two of Big's hoodlums. T knocks out the men and gets the drop on Preston, Big's bodyguard, then confronts the black gangster, who controls much of the crime in the community. T convinces Big that he is being framed for Abbey's murder, then persuades him that because a gang war will bring unwanted police attention, he must negotiate with Chalky and Pete. T goes to the commercial laundry facility where Chalky and Pete have their office, and after they assure him that they are not behind the frame-up, they agree to meet Big at Jimmy's. The next night, T goes to Jimmy's and tells his friend to close early and then leave, before the meeting occurs. When Preston and Big arrive, Big reveals that he found two players at the fateful game who confirm T's version of the events. As they talk, four hoodlums dressed as policemen arrive, take away Preston and Big's other bodyguard, then shoot Big with T's handgun to make it look as if he is responsible for another murder. After the men leave, T retrieves a hidden gun and arranges the scene to look as if he had been forced to kill Big in self-defense. He then calls Marx, who disparages T's narrative of the shooting and arrests him, even though he knows that the evidence will not support a murder charge. T is released soon after being booked, and when he returns to the pool hall, he tells Jimmy to leave town for his own protection. T also calls his girl friend, singer Cleo, to tell her to pack. Meanwhile, Chalky complains about T's release, although Pete asserts that they can now kill T with impunity, as the police will assume that Big's vengeful men did it. Chalky is still nervous, however, prompting Chi to go after T. Chi and two of his men grab and beat Jimmy before he can reach Cleo's, but a roving patrol car prevents them from killing him. T stops by the police records and evidence room, where the affable Sgt. Koeppler is distracted by a phone call from Cleo, allowing T to slip into the locked evidence room and retrieve both of his handguns. After Chi reports to Chalky and Pete that he cannot find T, Chalky declares that he is leaving town, but Pete, who lives in Century City, a white, upper-class area of Los Angeles, insists that T will not be able to get to him there. Chalky goes to his own office to empty his safe but is surprised by T, who demands his fee. Chalky pays, then pleads that framing T was Pete's idea, but T knows that he is lying. When Chi bursts in, T pushes Chalky toward him, and the hot-headed hoodlum shoots Chalky before being killed by T. T then drives to Century City, where Pete's apartment building is being protected by his many thugs. T outwits and outfights them to reach to the penthouse, and after leveling his gun at Frank, makes the hoodlum take him to Pete. Pete is locked in his mirror-lined bedroom and accidentally shoots Frankie to death before T knocks over the lights and, gun blazing, kills the racketeer. His mission accomplished, T changes into a clean suit then heads back to the evidence room. There, he sweet-talks a black policewoman into distracting Koeppler long enough for him to return the handguns to the evidence locker. With the handguns seemingly having been in police custody the entire night, T knows that he cannot be connected to the killings of Chalky and Pete. T then leaves with the young policewoman, who flirtatiously admits that she knows who he is.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||R||Premiere Info:||World premiere in New York: 31 Oct 1972; New York opening: 1 Nov 1972; Los Angeles opening: 29 Nov 1972|
|Release Date:||1972||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (DeLuxe)||Distributions Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono (Westrex Recording System)||Production Co:||JDF/B Productions, Inc.|
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