The Police Connection (1973)
By: Devon B. on November 14, 2013 | Comments
Code Red | All Regions, NTSC | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 mono | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Bert I. Gordon
Starring: Vince Edwards, Chuck Connors, Neville Brand, Hank Brandt, Christina Hart
Screenplay: Bert I. Gordon
Country: USA
I've been hearing about The Mad Bomber for years, mostly from the film's self-proclaimed number one fan and guerrilla filmmaker Frank Daft. Mr Daft is the twisted genius behind such films as The Dog Sex Killer and Final Faeces, so when he says that a film is sleazy even in its censored version that's something to take note of. I nearly got a private screening of The Mad Bomber with Mr Daft, but a six pack of Guinness required our immediate attention instead. Fortunately Code Red have released the film uncut as The Police Connection and rescued the movie from obscurity.

The movie wastes no time in introducing the viewer to the bomber, and also shows right away that he is indeed an angry fellow. He's terrorising Los Angeles with a series of explosions, and his targets seem random at first but eventually a pattern emerges. When he places a bomb at a mental hospital he gets spotted by someone who can then identify him, but unfortunately that someone is a serial rapist who was lurking in the hospital just waiting for the opportunity to sexually assault a patient. A detective wants to catch the rapist in order to bring the bomber to justice, but his commanding officer doesn't think he's got his priorities straight.

The Police Connection is without question an amazing film, and from that synopsis alone it's clear it's not going to be a bog-standard police procedural movie. The hero has a double investigation to conduct, and this leads to some interesting points about different squads having blinders on when it comes to crimes outside their sphere. In fact the overall attitude displayed by the police towards victims and potential victims of rape is pretty disturbing. The bomber himself, based loosely on a real life bomber who blew up bits of New York, is an unsettling character. He's disgruntled about the corrosion of society, and some of his gripes are justified, but sometimes he's just being a bit of a dick. Like when he decides to blow people up. The character, played exceptionally well by Chuck Connors, has obviously gone to extreme measures, but his mentality and reasoning are believable, which give his actions and motivations more depth than expected.

Having one good character or performance in a movie this obscure is of note, but this film actually has two more. Vince Edwards does a good job as the focused and troubled police detective, and Neville Brand as the rapist is one of the sleaziest characters I've seen outside of the realm of totally gratuitous exploitationers, and again this character resonates more because of a solid performance from the actor and an overall believability that there are people out there like this guy. Some of the other acting is a bit rough, but these three guys really elevate the quality of The Police Connection with their powerful and credible performances.

But just as The Police Connection is not a standard police procedural movie, neither is it a standard movie of any genre. Coupled with some really fine dramatic work are some elements of extreme sordidness and laugh inducing silliness. While the bomber never gets to the point of saying he's the mad bomber what bombs at midnight, there are other things that aren't far off that level of zaniness. One of the rape victims is so startled she becomes completely passive, to the point I thought she was chloroformed. The police have some intriguing theories on their ability to track different types of criminals, like say a bomber and a rapist, and their suspect personality analysis technique may have seemed futuristic and high tech at the time of the film's release but is now utterly ridiculous. There is also some intentional hilarity, like when the bomber berates anyone that irks him (provided said person doesn't upset him enough that he blows 'em up real good), however the moment that really had me cracking up was a fairly incidental questioning scene with the detective. It's pretty straightforward in terms of dialogue, but while he's asking his questions there's some wacky nude dancing going on behind him. The movie might work better as a character study without its gratuitous nudity, but the combination of sleaze and serious social commentary truly make the film a wonder. It's not quite at Humanoids From the Deep's level, but it's not far off.

The Police Connection might be called misogynist by some, but I think the men are portrayed pretty poorly as well, so in the end it's just misanthropic, much like the bomber. It's a fascinating and entertaining film that almost defies classification and that I suspect will only improve with repeat viewings.
The Disc
There is one complaint with how The Police Connection looks, so I'll get that out of the way first. There are several minutes of the film that are plagued with blotches that can appear as light flickers, almost like patches of telecine wobble. This problem may be source related, as I know there were film stocks and cameras used in the 70s that could cause issues somewhat like this, but it was distracting enough that I thought an explanation would've been good, like the one Code Red included on their Night of the Demon release. It seemed like only one reel of the film early in the movie was affected by the blotches, but they did reappear for a shorter time later in the movie. It'd probably be less than 15 minutes in total, but it is something to be aware of. Other than that, the transfer is great. There is a little edge enhancement and I spotted a few artefacts, but otherwise the movie looks fantastic for a film of this calibre. Sometimes the image is a bit soft, but I'd say that's definitely down to the source materials, but the movie can look absolutely amazing at times. The print is pretty clean, and I'd say given the age and previous obscurity of the film Code Red have made an outstanding effort on its restoration. The audio is a 2.0 track that is a nice, clear, clean representation of the film's sound. The extras include a trailer that plays on start up for Family Honor and a trailer reel with Just Before Dawn, The Folks at Red Wolf Inn, Class of '74, SPLITZ, The Girls Next Door and Gold of the Amazon Women. There's also an isolated score track for those that can't get enough of the soundtrack.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
While I wish this had been Code Red's Blu-ray debut, the company have stated that Blu-ray may not be a financially viable option for them. Fans of The Police Connection should be rapt to have an uncut, scrubbed up DVD release of this overlooked and forgotten gem, and curious newcomers have a great way to check the film out. The DVD only seems to be for sale from Code Red directly, and their store was a little buggy for me. I was told that the disc was sold out one hour and available the next, so before people cry themselves to sleep thinking they missed out if they're told the DVD's out of stock, I'd say just keep trying. This one is certainly worth any extra effort it takes to track it down.
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