Hard to imagine today that you could get a movie made with that title, or that it would be cast with non-Latino stars like Alan Arkin and Valerie Harper playing characters named “Bean” and “Bean’s Wife.” Still, lazy racial stereotyping aside, the 1974 movie was actually a decade or so ahead of its time. The title characters (James Caan is Freebie) are partners on the San Francisco police force, hunting down a racketeer before a hit man does the job for them.
The movie is full of the over-the-top slapstick set pieces that would characterize buddy-cop movies like the Lethal Weapon series in the late ’80s and ’90s. Richard Rush, a director fond of vehicular mayhem (from Roger Corman biker movies in the ’60s to the cult favorite The Stunt Man in 1980) stages some spectacular chase moments, including the film’s best-remembered scene, where the partners’ car flies off an elevated highway and into the living room of an elderly couple’s apartment. (“Television is getting too violent,” is the punchline grumbled by the oldsters.) The movie spawned a short-lived TV series of the same title in 1980, starring Tom Mason and Hector Elizondo.
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