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The Police Connection (1973)

aka The Mad Bomber

 

Director Bert I. Gordon forgoes monsters of Colossal proportions to bring this shower inducing cop movie that features two separate psychotics whose paths will cross while Detective Vince Edwards sets out to kill the two criminals with one stone….. excuse me, bullet.

The Mad Bomber of our film is played by an aggressive yet nerdy looking Chuck Connors. He’s a stickler for procedure and has little use for anyone breaking minor laws such as littering or running stop signs. That doesn’t stop him from roaming around L.A. setting off time bombs in schools and women’s liberation meetings. The opening explosion he triggers at a high school is well done for this low budget production that leaves blood and carnage in it’s wake.

When Chuck enters a hospital in the dead of night the tone of the film shifts dramatically when serial rapist Neville Brand brutalizes a mute woman and sees Connors in the building just before the explosion. Vigilante styled cop Edwards puts the two crimes together and comes up with the fact that there were two criminals in the same place on the night of the bombing and there is a good chance that his sexual predator may have seen the Mad Bomber.

The introduction of the Neville Brand character into the film brings with it a large amount of full frontal nudity from his intended victims and the dancing girls plying their trade in the clubs where Edwards questions ladies of the night. It also brings a cruelty with it that only an actor of Brand’s forceful screen presence can carry out. While I’d like to think he was a big pussycat when the director called cut, these actresses cast as his victims don’t look like they’re acting. They just look terrified.

As the bombings continue, Edwards puts out a full force of women cops on the streets at night to bait the Brand character and when he does catch his man, Brand will slowly come around to helping the police come up with a sketch that begins to resemble Connors. To hear Brand’s crazed sexual deviant say, “The Mad Bombers sick. He should be locked up.” is actually comical considering the psychotic it’s coming from.

Letting it slip to the news media that a man is being questioned for the serial rapes terrorizing the neighborhoods, the police also let it be known that he may be able to identify the Mad Bomber. This will hopefully flush Connors out and that he’ll attempt to kill the one man who can identify him. Detective Edwards who has no sympathy for Brand may get both of his criminals in one well timed sting operation.

While Brand is of course correct in stating that the Connors character should be locked up, I like the way Chuck is presented here. He has a past that continues to haunt him throughout the film using intercut flashbacks and family photographs. It should also be noted that the music works well during the film. Chuck’s character frequently has a folk song playing when he’s on screen called Reaching Out. It’s sung by Nancy Hannold who also plays his daughter in the quick cut images that invade his memories.

On the flip side the grinding score that accompanies Brand’s brutal rapist is worthy of most any slasher film.

This would be as close to playing Dirty Harry as the former Ben Casey would get. Having moved to the small screen for the latter part of his career, this cop vs. killer flick represents the only theatrical release of the decade for Vince Edwards.

I would think that most film buffs associate the director Bert I. Gordon with his slate of monster films that usually featured some sort of atomic testing resulting in an oversized man or insect stomping on us regular folk. When he couldn’t quite use that theme, he’d make movies like Attack of the Puppet People or Village of the Giants to get the same results and employ the same F/X trickery.

A time capsule of the seventies, this proved to be my first viewing of Gordon’s perverted film with all three actors handling their duties admirably. I do know this was a film that could usually be found in bargain bins during the early days of the VHS tape and probably is still out their on low budget DVD labels. Recently acquiring the Code Red release on blu ray known as The Police Connection offers the film in full uncut glory. I’ll have to take a look at the edited version to see just how it differs from this R rated cut. I suspect the nudity has been trimmed as well as a rather obvious scene of Neville Brand taking a certain amount of pleasure in his home movies. No fooling.

For those that love that seventies feel, have a look at this one and enjoy three performers who had seen their glory years pass them by but still knew how to bring it to the set and deliver some memorable bits and pieces strung together here for an enjoyable drive in thriller.

Trivia? How about this tidbit. Chuck Connors played the Apache Chief Geronimo back in the 1962 big screen western while Vince Edwards plays a detective named Geronimo here hunting down the Mad Bomber as essayed by the former Rifleman. A stretch for trivia this may be but, at least I’m trying.

Who knew Gordon could direct a movie without the Amazing Colossal man popping in for a bite sized snack?

3 Comments »

  1. Strange seeing film noir vet Neville Brand older and in color! And I wonder if they used ‘The Police Connection’ as a title to capitalize on ‘The French Connection’, which was released two years earlier. And based on your review, I now want to check this out just to see how deviant it is!

    • I would think that’s a good guess on the title. Pretty common for the low budget efforts to manipulate whatever is hot at the box office. Roger Corman made a career out of it earning mega bucks and an Oscar in the end.

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