Charles Braverman first made a name for himself with acclaimed short films telecast on CBS-TV's SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR and the trippy 1974 Fab Four animated featurette BRAVERMAN'S CONDENSED CREAM OF BEATLES, only to radically shift gears with his narrative directorial debut. Based on the 1975 novel "Eighty Dollars to Stamford" by Edgar Award-winner Lucille Fletcher ("Sorry, Wrong Number"), this somewhat clunky New York City neo-noir about an innocent man mixed up in sex, deception, murder, and (of course) a beautiful dame initially arrived in theaters with a hokey new title, REVENGE SQUAD, and a misleading ad campaign which made this PG outing look like an addition to the then-popular gritty, urban-vengeance genre... Brooklyn school teacher, father and recent widower David Marks (Paul Perri) suffers from recurring nightmares about the hit and run accident that took the life of his wife. Moonlighting as a NYC taxi driver, he begins his night shift and picks up a stunning young woman (Claudia Cron) in a full-length fur, who requests a round trip from Manhattan to an estate in Darien, Connecticut -- 45 miles, each way -- then repeats the journey the next night, without telling her driver the purpose of these lengthy, enigmatic rides. Although this fare, Diana, is totally out of his league, the two end up screwing in his vehicle, with inquisitive David soon stumbling upon a dead man, who also happens to be the multi-millionaire responsible for the demise of his wife! Since Diana has conveniently vanished, there's no one but our cabbie for the police to blame... Obviously aspiring to be a BODY HEAT-style thriller, the film is well-intentioned but lacks any distinctive style, as Don Enright's script veers into increasingly contrived territory after David convinces his taxi colleagues to scour the city for Diana. Perri makes a convincing 'everyman patsy,' but is less effective once David goes on the run from the cops; Cron (DINER) lacks steamy femme fatale charisma and is better suited to playing a generic blonde on a daytime soap; but there are also welcome appearances by character actors like Will Lee (SESAME STREET's beloved Mr. Hooper) having fun as a connected acquaintance helping out desperate David, THE SOPRANOS' Dominic Chianese is a city sanitation boss, E. Brian Dean plays a dispatcher, Mike Starr is barely recognizable as a Copacabana doorman, and Joey Lawrence makes his feature debut as David's five-year-old son. The director's younger brother, Bart Braverman (a castmember on TV's VEGA$ and THE KROFFT SUPERSHOW's "Magic Mongo"), also pops up as a television newsman covering this murder. In addition to an eerie, discordant soundtrack by Brad Fiedel, this includes loads of atmospheric footage of Midtown Manhattan after dark, graffitied subways, and scenes inside the long-defunct Munson Diner, located at 11th Avenue and 49th Street.
© 2022 by Steven Puchalski.