Street Smart (1988)
With this film Morgan Freeman launched himself into the Oscar night celebrations and one could argue he has never left since.
Morgan stars here as the subject of an expose written on pimps by newsman Christopher Reeve. It’s all purely accidental as Reeve pitched the idea to his editor who thought it would make for a good article. The problem is he couldn’t find anyone to co-operate so he fabricated the entire story.
It isn’t long before the police read it and assume the whole thing is based on Morgan Freeman’s rather psychotic character who has ladies working the streets on his behalf. The police want all of Reeve’s notes and transcripts of any interviews he has conducted with Freeman.
Reeves problems are compounded when he is summoned into Morgan’s world by one of his girls, Kathy Baker. Freeman too assumes that he is the basis for the article. At least loosely. This whole scenario doesn’t sit well with Reeve’s wife Mimi Rogers
There’s an uneasy alliance here and it isn’t long before Morgan spins a web of deceit around Reeve. He needs Reeve to make up the notes and hand them in as an alibi for a murder charge leveled against him. Reeve would rather not and finds himself in contempt of court for not turning over documents that never existed in the first place.
The film becomes somewhat of a cat and mouse affair between our two leads who are lent fine support from Baker as a long in the tooth lady of the night who wants out. This leads to a rather terrifying confrontation with Morgan who expects her to continue working the streets to keep money coming in.
It’s Freeman and Baker who rise to the occasion lifting this Cannon film from Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus a cut above many of their other titles throughout the eighties. Where Reeve is concerned, I have generally found him to be stiff in films and best suited to the Clark Kent/Superman roles that made him famous.
As with many Cannon films, there are plenty of exploitation scenes included here with Jerry Schatzberg directing. Not to surprising considering the subject matter. Supposedly Reeve agreed to Superman IV provided he could appear in this title.
This was the first of Freeman’s five Oscar nominations of which he took one home for his role in Million Dollar Baby. For those accustomed to the gentle side of Morgan, beware as he isn’t exactly lending his voice to a penguin documentary this time out.