CRIMEWATCH: Straight Time

In Ulu Grossbard’s crime film/character study Straight Time (1978) Dustin Hoffman stars as Max Dembo a career criminal who is newly released from prison. Max tries to stay on the straight and narrow, he even starts a relationship with a woman (Theresa Russell) he meets at an unemployment office but when his sadistic parole officer Earl Frank (M. Emmett Walsh) finds some traces of drug use left by his friend Willy (Gary Busey) while making his weekly visit, Max is thrown back in jail. When Max is released again he snaps, beats up Frank, steals his car and goes back to a life as a professional criminal. Max is good at what he does but he almost seems to have a compulsion to commit crimes and get caught, which makes the character even more complicated. The supporting cast features notable actors Kathy Bates (Misery) and Harry Dean Stanton (Alien).

The reason Straight Time feels especially authentic, like a semi-documentary, is because screenwriter Eddie Bunker (who makes a cameo as one of Max’s old buddies) was a criminal himself and knew all about the people who inhabited the underworld. Younger film fans will know him best as Mr. Blue in Writer-Director Quentin Tarantino‘s Reservoir Dogs. The amazing script, along with Dustin Hoffman’s brilliant portrayal of the reckless, desperate Max (one of his most underrated performances in my opinion) make this late 70’s crime film a real treasure. It’s one of my all time favorite movies as well. NOTE: Look for an early appearance by Gary Busey’s son Jake (Starship Troopers). 

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Peter

Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database/Furious Cinema contributor. Pete is a rabid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation/cult flix to big budget mainstream classics. His other interests include: graphic design, cartooning and music.

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4 Responses

  1. Lee Ann says:

    Straight Time is a fave of mine…..I love the cast, especially the beautiful Miss Russell. The scene when Max is trying to rob a store and the bullet falls out of the gun is great, as well as when he handcuffs the rotten parole officer to the fence. This is an underrated 70s film.

  2. Peter Roberts says:

    this mini review i wrote doesnt get to how much i love it. its actually now in my current top 10 fav films of all time.

  1. January 16, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Grindhouse Database, Cult & horror movies. Cult & horror movies said: A gritty 70s Dustin Hoffman crime drama that I've yet to see. RT @furiouscinema: FURIOUS FLIX: STRAIGHT TIME (1978) http://nblo.gs/d3Xb6 […]

  2. June 20, 2011

    […] Straight Time (1978, Dir: Ulu Grosbard/professional criminals) […]

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