freebie1Excited as cinephiles are about Warner Brothers brilliant move to make their entire catalog available online, I and others hoped that one of the titles to be made available soon would be Richard Rush’s anarchist cop satire, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN (1974). Here’s a snippet of my review from Quentin Tarantino’s 1999 Film Fest:

FREEBIE & THE BEAN is still disturbing after all these years. Amid some of the greatest car chases in American film history, our heroes are crude, bigoted and oblivious to their swath of destruction. The film is particularly homophobic, or the attitude is, with lots of “fag” putdowns and the major bad guy is a transvestite. But Caan and Arkin are PERFECT as the bickering team. I’ve never warmed much to Caan, but this might be his loosest and funniest performance. Arkin is as Mexican as Chuck Heston, but he’s always watchable and even funnier. Rush said that the pair did not get along, which doesn’t seem surprising, but that tension fits the combative duo. And Quentin was right, when Arkin grills his wife, the interplay between him and Valerie Harper is magnetic.

What makes the film problematic at first glance is the cavalier way the pair run people over, including a school marching band, or even shoot a nurse bystander. However, the people around these maniac cops actually do see them as dangerous, especially their captain, well-played by Alex Rocco in a terrific scene. Even Loretta Swit verbally slaps down Caan at the end for his brutish idiocy, and she’s right. But honestly, the reason this was a hit and still holds up is the fantastic action, a tribute to the long-gone Hoopers of the era. The car chases are still jaw-dropping, and would never be done today. The gun battles are filmed with quick violence and are very effective, particularly a hardcore “shoot-in” at a bowling alley bathroom. Even Freebie’s homophobia is offset by the fact that “The Transvestite” (as labeled in the credits) kicks the total shit out of him at the climax.

And word from Mr. Beaks over at Ain’t It Cool News confirms our joy. Just to get you in the mood, here is 42 violent seconds of FREEBIE AND THE BEAN:


11 Responses to “FREEBIE AND THE BEAN!”

  1. classic! (love the soundtrack music as those glass lifts descend, so highbrow and jaunty amidst the gunfire!)

  2. I love forward to finally seeing this. Like many, I love The Stunt Man.

  3. Christian Says:

    It’s a must see, preferably on the big screen with Lazlo Kovacs great Panavision photography.

  4. Quite frankly, this DVD should be in every home.

  5. Warner’s is actually missing a big payday on this by not releasing a proper version with packaging and extras. I figger they’re still scared of the film’s anti-PC ambience. But this was their biggest hit of 1974 after THE EXORCIST, so….

  6. That same bank of elevators is featured prominently in Mel Brooks’ “High Anxiety”. “That kid gets no tip.”

  7. christian Says:

    “You shall receive no fruitcup.”

  8. Joe Simiana Says:

    Freebie And The Bean a Warners Classic Is Now Available on DVD in 720p Widescreen Stereo 2 Channell Audio in Australia, maybe i’ll upload a portion in HQ on YouTube In Coming Weeks

  9. christian Says:

    Thanks for the info Joe. Good to know the Aussies are keeping it real while us hicks in America get the download dregs. I’ll have to order that version….

  10. Finally. But it’s download only rather than a DVD? I guess this is the wave of the future.

    (I downloaded some Mad Men episodes and was looking into buying a cord that would attach my Macbook to my TV. Anyone ever tried this?)

    I wonder if these characters were intended as a parody of Dirty Harry. The cop who does more harm than good as he trashes everything in his path…

  11. christian Says:

    Richard Rush said at the Egyptian screening here tha it was intended as a parody of DIRTY HARRY, but sometimes I’m not so sure. But Rush is a trickster and seems too aware to not be aware of the film’s cavalier bloodletting.

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