Grindhouse Fest: Night of the Juggler (1980)

-Grindhouse Fest is the special section in Celluloid Dimension where you can discover all the goodies from the golden age of exploitation cinema. Have fun!

Night of the Juggler (1980) Directed by Robert Butler

Social realism amidst a histrionic, sleazy thriller filmed in New York City pandemonium. Robert Butler’s Night of the Juggler offers a searing look at social stratification in American urbanism while steering the pragmatism of a raucously ridiculous, nail-biting chase thriller. James Brolin convincingly plays the desperate working-class ex-cop and beloved father of a teenage girl, who embarks on a propulsive search for the latter when he witnesses her abduction at the hands of a psychotic man, a child of the dysfunctional first-world society played by Cliff Gorman. The plot as seen on film is a grand, nerve-racking chase in which Brolin’s character stumbles through all sorts of corruption and obstacles to rescue his helpless daughter from the hands of a madman demanding a million dollars for her ransom. The execution of the more frantic sections is somewhat jerky – replete with haphazard cuts, and a poor sense of physical coherence. Butler – an expert in the TV medium – opts more for detailed, close-up action than epic action seen in broad, complex compositions. At times this lends more psychological qualities to the thriller than taut emotions; nevertheless, the pacing is extraordinary, the kind of film that is over in the blink of an eye, leaving you with a gratifying sense of having seen superlative cinema. The descriptive, grimy footage of New York suburbia does the trick as a social critique, the rest is pure action mayhem of the highest order. Gripping, underrated piece of exploitative realism.



Matteo Bedon

Written by

Editor and Official Film Critic at

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